Writing by

Tania Melnyczuk

Planning the QAnon ARG: What was it like to be there?

Planning the QAnon ARG: What was it like to be there?

Understanding that QAnon was a psyop pitched in a PowerPoint presentation in a meeting, paid for by a client, and then designed and run in fulfilment of a contract like a marketing campaign makes my mind go to the scenes where the ARG designers decide what to put into the game.

I wonder who the voice of doubt was who said, “Dude, you can’t put lizard people and face-swapping and celebrities drinking babies’ blood into there, that’s just too crazy, only a few nutcases will fall for that!”

And who was the straight-faced experienced mindf*** specialist who looked them in the eye said, “I know my job. We throw every f***ing bogeyman story into the mix. If you keep it too close to reality, you lose them. You gotta take them all the way down the rabbithole.”

QAnon apophenia map with masses of words and arrows connecting things like it's a huge conspiracy.
A popular conspiracy map used by QAnons for figuring out clues in the ARG

Was there any point at which they broke into laughter from the belly, as people fell for it, and giggled naughtily after agreeing on the wording before putting out the next Q-drop, like any creative team may feel mirth about the outputs of their own creativity?

Or was it just humourless formulaic work, done acccording to a calculated recipe, because after all, it’s a serious paid-for terrorist psyop run by specialists in the field?

QAnon is not magic.

Qanon is not free thinking.

It’s not deeply philosophical libertarian or honestly anarchic.

It’s not even a bona fide cult.

It’s just a psyop sponsored by a kleptocracy.

It’s as banal as that.