QAnon is an ARG (Alternate Reality Game). It was set up that way and is managed that way. QAnoners are playing an ARG and refuse to stop for the very reason transreality gaming can be hazardous: you can forget what's game and what's reality. QAnoners are lost in a dangerous game.
The reason this matters is that Trump and his agents aim to expand the gamification of reality beyond the confines of QAnon's ARG mythology. Now they're turning the finding of evidence of "election fraud" into a transreality game with its own mythology. All of this is dangerous.
When we think of the far right as a space of "fake news" rather than the gamification of reality, we falsely accept the notion that Trumpists are interested in news. They're not. They're interested in tailored escapism, and in redefining reality as a mythology they can live with.
When you misdefine someone as simply an indiscriminate "news consumer" rather than deeming them a LARPer—Live-Action Roleplayer—you erroneously analyze their characteristics and erroneously model their behavior.

Trump himself is an ARG—and people enjoy the game too much to stop.
Trump and his agents are deliberately creating a new intelligence theater, in which intelligence agents must "enter the game"—yes, a bit akin to entering a Matrix—to combat the seditious ends Trump, Flynn and others intend to direct their ARG to. It's all weird digital-age stuff.
By this same logic, QAnoners cannot be reached by *real* news presented to them in *conventional* terms.

Instead, intelligence agents will end up infiltrating the Trumpist QAnon ARG with the "real" using scenarios in which the "real" *momentarily* seems to be part of the "game."
This is why I described the Trump era as the First Reality War, and urged folks in intel to treat reality as an active combat theater. Government will need many more digital-age cultural theorists than it anticipated. Not cyber folks—I mean world-builders and their interlocutors.
The good news: the generation coming up gets transmedia, transreality, XR, ARGs, pervasive gaming, immersive theater, reality mining, gamification, collaborative OSINT and the like far more than their elders. Which is key, as much of the Trumpist threat will come in such spheres.
For instance, "Communism" exists in Trumpist mythology the same way Shinra did in Final Fantasy VII: as an in-game construction defined by narrative utility and seamless integration with a UX. Trumpists have no idea how the term connects to anything actually happening in America.
So Trumpists can't be deprogrammed from their sense of what Communism—or for that matter socialism—means in meat space, as their (false) consciousness of these terms is the product of an in-game "economy." You either change their game or get them to stop playing. Both are *hard*.
But put aside intelligence and counterintelligence.

What this means for the average American is that you may have members of your family or certain acquaintances who you can no longer speak to because *even when they are talking to your face* they are playing a transreality ARG.
My advice to those with Trumpists or QAnoners they still want to interact with: you have to find ways to get them to *put the ARG aside* momentarily. Which is hard, because Trump and his team are daily expanding the size of the ARG to try to make it *roughly the size of reality*.
The best many of us can do right now is to try to draw these LARPers into non-game spaces in which they have non-game interactions with non-game participants—and to try to make such spaces and interactions of such high entertainment value that the game begins to seem unnecessary.
But you don't address the situation by trying to introduce "real news" (qua news) directly into the situation, as you are dealing with someone whose interest is in entertainment rather than news—and whose fundamental complaint is with reality itself, not with information streams.
I teach digital-age cultural theory, XR literacy, mass communications, post-postmodernism, digital journalism and transmedia worldbuilding at the university level—while my recent books are classified as being on the subject of intelligence and espionage—so these are my interests.

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More from @SethAbramson

Aug 12
(📢) So Trump was hiding nuclear secrets in a space in Mar-a-Lago almost no one knew of—and lied to the FBI about it. In 2019 I published a bestseller about Trump secretly working with America’s enemies on... nuclear tech. You may want to check it out now.…
(PS) I wrote this tweet about Proof of Conspiracy—a book about Donald Trump secretly negotiating nuclear tech deals with America’s enemies—being two years ahead of the news...

...a little over two years ago. Just saying.
(PS2) Here’s a thread I published over two and a half years ago on my research for Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019). Proof of Conspiracy is a 600-page book with thousands of citations—so this is only the tip of the iceberg—but it’s about nuclear tech.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 11
(📢) PROOF OF COUP: HOW THE PENTAGON SHAPED AN INSURRECTION—a new book in the NYT-bestselling Proof series—drops Sunday. This 240-pg. Substack book ($5 subscription) holds breaking news. If you’ve considered subbing to PROOF, this is a great moment for it.
1/ The premise of the book, supported across two dozen chapters and hundreds of major-media citations, is that the Pentagon was a key player in what was originally—and throughout—conceived as a highly unusual and idiosyncratic military coup that was to play out in January 2021.
2/ This is a terrifying topic that has thus far received only scattered attention. Because most journalists covering this beat have largely taken quotes from Mark Milley—who wasn’t involved in any coup plotting at the Pentagon—they’ve missed the evidence that others there *were*.
Read 12 tweets
Aug 11
(📢) To be clear, it was the far-right group Judicial Watch that moved to have the Trump search warrant unsealed, and the court gave DOJ until 5PM today to respond.

It responded that it didn’t object to the motion, so the court set a deadline of 3PM tomorrow for Trump to object.
(📢) I believe those on cable saying that DOJ was the moving party here have it slightly wrong. DOJ actually was under a tight deadline to respond to a motion another party filed—and decided not to oppose it because the third party involved (Trump) already made the search public.
(📢) Trump can now offer full-throated opposition to the Motion to Unseal; ask for more time to litigate what should be redacted from the search warrant first; or inform the court that he has no objection to the unsealing. Who knows what’ll happen. My money would be on Option #2.
Read 11 tweets
Aug 11
You did this, @GOPLeader and @GOPChairwoman and @GOP. And you did it with your eyes open. Stochastic terrorism is real, and you are complicit in it.…
I haven’t seen a single call for peace and calm from an elected Republican official since the entirely legal search of Mar-a-Lago conducted several days ago.

Every message I’ve seen so far has intended to incite dangerous domestic extremists to violent and other illicit conduct.
What we long ago lost is a common understanding of just how easy it’d be for the Republican Party to do the right thing.

All they had to say after the search was, “No one is above the law, but we certainly look forward to evidence from DOJ as to why this search was appropriate.”
Read 4 tweets
Aug 11
The main thing we’ve learned from this search already is that Trump was hiding 12 boxes of mixed classified/unclassified documents at his home after pretending to have turned everything over—and was keeping them in a place only half a dozen people knew about. That looks VERY bad.
The second thing we’ve learned from this search is that Trump doesn’t want anyone to know what he was hiding in Florida, which is why he wants to talk about the search and wants everyone talking about the search but won’t just release the warrant return revealing what was seized.
The third thing we’ve learned from this search is that Trump reps were lying to the FBI—a federal felony—about the documents they were helping Trump hide in Florida, which suggests both that the documents are enormously significant and that Trump probably orchestrated their lies.
Read 11 tweets
Aug 9
(📢) This is serious—and fully explains the Mar-A-Lago search. Amidst an investigation seeking documents implicating national security, the FBI found that Trump’s agents were lying—a federal felony. And why were they lying? To *steal classified documents*.…
What we don’t know yet is who directed these Trump agents to lie—though I’ll give you one guess who it’d probably have to be for them to willingly commit a federal felony the FBI routinely arrests people for—and why Trump desperately needed to hold onto these classified documents
It goes without saying that even a career criminal like Trump wouldn’t seek to steal classified documents unless those documents in some way incriminated him in a larger crime than the stealing of classified documents in the first place constitutes, so this is extremely serious
Read 10 tweets

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