Note: This site is archived. You can read the whole book online, or you can order the paperback version (Project Mu Archives) on

About Us (and then some)


MetaUrchins Home

The Short Version

The Long Version

- What is a MetaUrchin?

- What is an Alternate Reality Game?

- So what's this site for?

The Short Version

This website was formed as a hub for the creation of a book chronicling the recently concluded "MetaCortex" Alternate Reality Game (ARG).  "MetaUrchins" is just a name we came up with to identify the many players of the ARG. As you may have already seen, the book is still a work in progress, and we're always adding to and changing it. Once we finish it and decide it's ready, we may publish it through CafePress Publishing.

That was my boring intro... If you'd like to find out more (and read some hilarious stuff), scroll down to read joebrent's (much better) intro.

-Peter Magenheimer

What is a MetaUrchin?

If you’re here, this is probably what you’re trying to figure out (unless you’re a marine biologist, in which case you probably want to go here). Is it animal, mineral, or vegetable? Some would say a little of all three. Is it fish or fowl, or perhaps some foul type of fish? Or Fish? Maybe. Let’s start with a dictionary and go from there:

meta-: prefix ur·chin: noun
1 a : occurring later than or in succession to : after <metestrus> 1 archaic : HEDGEHOG 1a
  b : situated behind or beyond <metencephalon> <metacarpus> 2 : a mischievous youngster : SCAMP
  c : later or more highly organized or specialized form of <metaxylem> 3 SEA URCHIN
2 : change : transformation    
3 [metaphysics] : more comprehensive : transcending <metapsychology> -- used with the name of a discipline to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original one <metamathematics>    
4 a : involving substitution at or characterized by two positions in the benzene ring that are separated by one carbon atom <meta-xylene>    
  b : derived from by loss of water <metaphosphoric acid>    

Thanks, Merriam-Webster, thanks a lot, that clears it right up. So apparently, we’re either a highly organized or specialized form of mischievous youths (as much an oxymoron as “jumbo shrimp”, or “Microsoft Works”), or we’re hedgehogs occupying two positions in a benzene ring. Although, that second one does sound kind of kinky.

Alas, in actuality a MetaUrchin is something a bit more mundane. It’s a mostly nocturnal creature, anywhere between five and seven feet tall, inhabiting all climates and continents from Anchorage to Oz. Bipedular during migration, the MetaUrchin actually spends most of its time with its backside firmly planted in a supportive device of some sort, preferably one that reclines and comes with a beer cozy, whilst praying to the silicone god. At birth, the MetaUrchin can have any number of complexions and hair colors; however, upon reaching “maturity”, most of them are cast of a languid pallor sans soleil, and have torn their every hair from its root out of aggravation (see: Oct. 1 paintover).

The MetaUrchin mates whenever it can, or at least it used to.

In the summer of 2003, a fascinating socio-zoological development in the MetaUrchin sub-civilization occurred. Hearing a beacon call previously known only to birds preparing to migrate for the winter (or perhaps demonstrating characteristics commonly found in another red-eyed, furry creature, the lemming), hundreds of MetaUrchins began congregating around the vicinity of Unfiction, a formerly pristine and untouched wilderness of the internet, whose ecosystem soon buckled under the weight and pure bandwidth-consuming power of these resource-sucking byte monkeys.

In numbers far too great to be tabulated by any hit counter, they came. No cyberscape was left unsullied, no stone was left unturned, no Flash was left undecompiled. And what was the clarion call that beckoned these fair travelers to their voracious feedings? Sustenance? Wealth? Manifest Destiny? No. They came to play an Alternate Reality Game.

What is an Alternate Reality Game (ARG)?

al·ter·nate: adjective game: noun
1 : occurring or succeeding by turns <a day of alternate sunshine and rain> 1 a (1) : activity engaged in for diversion or amusement : PLAY (2) : the equipment for a game
2 a : arranged first on one side and then on the other at different levels or points along an axial line <alternate leaves> -- compare OPPOSITE   b : often derisive or mocking jesting : FUN, SPORT <make game of a nervous player>
  b : arranged one above or alongside the other 2 a : a procedure or strategy for gaining an end : TACTIC
3 : every other : every second <he works on alternate days>   b : an illegal or shady scheme or maneuver : RACKET
4 : constituting an alternative <took the alternate route home> 3 a (1) : a physical or mental competition conducted according to rules with the participantsin direct opposition to each other (2) : a division of a larger contest (3) : the number of points necessary to win (4) : points scored in certain card games (as in all fours) by a player whose cards count up the highest (5) : the manner of playing in a contest (6) : the set of rules governing a game (7) : a particular aspect or phase of play in a game or sport <a football team's kicking game>
re·al·i·ty: noun
1 : the quality or state of being real
2 a (1) : a real event, entity, or state of affairs <his dream became a reality> (2) : the totality of real things and events<trying to escape from reality>
  b plural : organized athletics
  b : something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily   c (1) : a field of gainful activity : LINE <the newspaper game> (2) : any activity undertaken or regarded as a contest involving rivalry, strategy, or struggle <the dating game> <the game of politics>; also : the course or period of such an activity <got into aviation early in the game> (3) : area of expertise : SPECIALTY 3 <comedy is not my game>

I’ll tell you the truth, I kind of skimmed over those, same as you did. Anyway, Alternate Reality Games, or ARGs, are online interactive stories, told through the use of puzzles, riddles, and deductive challenges, requiring various skill sets such as hacking chops, Jeopardy!™-style esoteric minutiae, and a smattering of grit and guile. Oh, and patience. Lots and lots of patience. As far as I’m concerned, there ought to be some sort of Patience Bill of Rights or something at the beginning of every ARG so you have something to refer to when addressing your grievances at the end.

And this ARG was no exception. It all began with a Flash countdown at the Metacortechs site which went live on October 1st, and ended November 22nd when the Project MU Credits were revealed. In between was an escalating series of frustrations, triumphs, and general skullduggery, after which was heard a multinational proclamation from boy and girl, young and old alike: it was good. Maddening, but good. And yes, I just used skullduggery in a sentence. Deal with it.

[Peter's Note: If you want to find out more about ARGs, or if you're still confused, head on over to, a good source for all things ARG.]

So what's this site for?

Problem with the last page of a book is, sure, you find out the butler did it in the study with the wrench, but now you got no more book to read. And it’s not like you can just check out a new ARG from the library. So the MetaUrchins, deprived of their usual winter slumber by the various withdrawal symptoms endemic to the end of great story, decided to write their own story. Read it as a cautionary tale if you must, but we think it will provide a little insight into what goes into the making and playing of an ARG. Enjoy, enjoy. And if someday we see you down the rabbit hole, don’t say we didn’t warn you.


Unfiction Profile


stol: noun, verb, adj., adv., int.
1 a greeting, salutation, common to MetaUrchins <stol to you> <I say stol to you sir>
2 a (1) : acronym for Short Take-Off and Landing; used in aviation (2) : a semi-nonsensical interjection used by MetaUrchins, possibly while taking off and landing in an airplane <Stol! I think we just sucked the Pink Floyd pig through our left engine!>
  b : a description of something or someone either pleasing or grating; what is notable in its utterance is the fact that someone actually made up a word for it <I was feeling pretty stol when Schilling shut out the Yankees>

MetaUrchins Home