July 22, 2013 saw the release of a landmark hip hop-based indie game. Made with RPG Maker, Kanye Quest 3030 lets players take on the role of a time-traveling Kanye West. The game sees Kanye transported to the year 3030. Here, he must defeat an evil clone of influential outsider rapper Lil B the Based God. Also appearing in the game are MF DOOM, 2pac, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan. (Clearly, the game’s developer—who went by the name Phoenix—had an awareness of the emerging confluence of hip hop and internet cultures.)
Underneath the game’s lightheartedness, however, players found something dark.
Kanye Quest Player Makes Shocking Discovery
In January of 2015, an anonymous user—who we will refer to as the OP (original poster)—posted to Pastebin an infodump regarding their personal experiences playing Kanye Quest 3030. The OP discovered a secret level that seemed to tie the game to the real-life cult of Ascensionism.
“In the game, there are Based Information Systems that tell you how to play, tell you your current task, tell you to praise Lil B, etc…” the OP wrote.
“In the first future area of the game, Bay Area 3030, you can walk into an abandoned building and find a trashed Based Info System… I hit “view current task” on it, and it showed a message that said:
—-/–.—.-Bas.d Inf.rmati/. Sy.tem—/-..–/—-
ASC/N. a/d wo..hip T.e Ba//dG.d.
After thinking for a minute, I realized it said ‘ASCEND and worship The Based God.’ I thought ‘oh, cool fluff messages’ and just kept walking.
Later on, you meet a BasedGod Taskforce cultist in the street who randomly asks you ‘What do you want to do?’ You’re given a six blank space prompt where you can put in any characters. For shits and giggles, I put in ‘ASCEND.’”
And here is where things took a very strange turn.
A Hidden World Within Kanye Quest
Kanye Quest 3030 (2013) pic.twitter.com/HOrj5sbz4M— No context easter eggs (@EggsNoCntxt) January 10, 2021
After OP entered “ASCEND,” their character was transported to another level. They were no longer playing as Kanye but as a butterfly. The soundtrack shifted from cheery to dark and ambient. On screen, there appeared a text box that read the following:
“Congratulations! You have proven yourself to be an open-minded and curious thinker. We must apologize for deceiving you, but we can reveal that the game you were playing until this point was a ‘front’ constructed to protect what you are currently accessing… the following is a thought exercise designed to teach you something beneficial. By undertaking this exercise, you will hopefully be affected in a positive way. Due to the nature of the exercise, this ‘something’ cannot be revealed immediately.”
While obviously creeped out, the OP continued playing. When they moved their character forward, they were met with a Based Information System that required a password to proceed. With no knowledge of what that password may be, they decided to move backward, which led them into a room containing a QR code. This QR code led to a website called q4i.co/FM, which turned out to be a dead link.
If OP wanted to proceed with the game, they needed to figure out all of the passwords needed to progress. To do this, they did some digging through the game’s files. The passwords were words that seemed nonsensical: jagatai, petuntze, eyen, etc… However, a quick Google search for these words revealed that they used within the cult of Ascensionism (more on that later).
Kanye Quest’s Final Message
Using the hacked passwords, OP managed to complete the hidden level, after which they were met with another message:
“You have proven your worth once again. You have ascended. However, further ascension is always possible. If you do not wish to ascend further, your journey ends here. If you do not wish to ascend further, your journey ends here, so please close this program by pressing ALT-F3 or selecting the NO option above. By selecting the YES option, you agree to participate further, and you grant us permission to interact with your possessions. Would you like to participate?”
While the insistence that the makers of the game would “interact with your possessions,” was obviously frightening, OP couldn’t resist selecting the YES option, after which another text box appeared.
“Over the following two weeks, we will interact with you and your possessions in several ways. Keep an eye out, as some of these ways may be subtle. Others may not be. We may attempt to contact you directly…”
Following this message, there appeared a prompt that asked the OP to enter their real-world address. It should be noted that no one who has played Kanye Quest reported actually being contacted by Ascensionists.
What Even Is Ascensionism Anyway?
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “What even is Ascensionism, and what do Ascensionists believe?” To answer both of those questions, Ascensionism is a New Age cult that originated some time in the mid-2000s. According to Ascensionists, there are two spirits within us all: the physical spirit (the body) and the ethereal spirit (the soul). Souls live many lifetimes until they reach judgment day. Once they have been sufficiently good, they are finally destroyed, becoming primordial soulstuffs through which new souls are formed.
Additionally, Ascensionists believe that any negative action taken against a person was agreed upon in a past life and is therefore justified.
Was Kanye Quest 3030 Just an ARG Using Ascensionism as a Front?
If Kanye Quest 3030 was indeed a recruitment tool for Ascensionism, it succeeded. Most had never heard of the cult prior to learning about the game. Still, many believe that the game’s mysterious developer Phoenix had no ties to Ascensionism at all and was merely trying to drum up controversy. Since no confirmation of this has come from Phoenix, we can only speculate.
Whatever the case, Kanye Quest 3030 remains one of the internet’s most iconic oddities.