Q is thought to have stemmed from Alternate Reality Games (ARG) and internet hoaxes. ARGs are interactive online networking games and marketing gimmicks that rely on multiplatform narratives, where players are left to work together to amass clues and solve puzzles to immerse them in a fantasy “world” of the film or video game they were created to promote. Online ARGs began with the infamous Ong’s Hat in the 90s but quickly developed into an elaborate marketing tool a decade later, with Spielberg’s A.I., the Blair Witch Project, the videogame Halo2, and even Audi releasing famous examples of ARGs to create hype around their products release. Famous Internet hoaxes such as “John Titor”, whose anonymous posts claimed he was a time traveller sent back in time while making predictions of future events that failed to materialise, are likewise thought to have been a precursor to Q.
When compared to its precursors the QAnon movement is nothing new, it's just the latest in a history of internet hoaxes that has managed to hook a massive amount of moral-panicophiles into a conspiratorial ARG, one that they do not even realise they are playing. In this way it is just the latest sad development that demonstrates the unhealthy disconnect that a sizeable minority have from a political landscape that is so toxic they would rather languish in delusion than enter into serious political research, thought or debate. This does not represent a threat to honest political debate, it is just online silliness that has happened again and again and will continue, as will horoscopes and “end-times prophecy” cults and extremist religions sects, which stem from a similar distaste for reality.