This Is Not a game : Derek Heath presents the world of args in 6½ minutes slide notes

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This Is Not A Game : Derek Heath presents the world of ARGs in 6½ minutes

  1. This Is Not A Game : Derek Heath presents the world of ARGs in 6½ minutes

  1. What is an Alternate Reality Game (ARG)? I'll tell you what!

    1. A STORY GAME!

    2. relatively new method of interactive storytelling

    3. immersive gaming experience that creates a narrative faux-reality intertwined with the real world

    4. YOU ARE YOU! WORLD IS REAL WORLD! “THIS IS NOT A GAME!” (suspend disbelief voluntarily) (so no “rules” other than those naturally created by the in-game reality) (David Szulborski)

  1. What led up to ARGs? Conceptually

    1. capers

    2. Choose your own adventure

    3. flash mobs

    4. geocaching

    5. mmorpg’s (entirely fictional, wouldn’t it be more visceral if it was real!!)

  1. What led up to ARGs? Technically

    1. Dawn of networked technology!

      1. People have access to a huge range of media and ways of looking at info

      2. People are much savvier as far as navigating their way through the media

      3. Cheap to develop content for!—You don’t have to actually be a professional to create very professional looking websites, newsletters, videos, etc (b/c of programming languages, photoshop, after effects, etc.)

  1. Promotional

    1. ARGs were born out of corporate promotion

    2. People get obsessed with things (like Star Wars for instance) and really want to be a part of that world

    3. ARGs play off people’s wish to immerse themselves in something magical in the real world—advertising that literally sucks the player in.

    4. Often have big budgets, are officially sanctioned, so maximum realism can be achieved

  1. Promotional Example

    1. The Dark Knight

      1. immersed the player in the fictional world around the time of Harvey Dent’s election (in between movies) - players are citizens of gotham

      2. begins with website supporting Harvey dent, then a mock website in support shows up and is revealed to be run by the Joker

      3. whole network of sites branched out from this that players had to keep track of

      4. Throughout the game players had to do things like go on scavenger hunts across the city in joker masks, pick up cakes from bakeries based on phone numbers they were given and find cell phones in the cakes, follow “gotham” newspapers to rat out crooked cops, etc.

  1. Grassroots

    1. Often much cheaper since designed by individuals or groups, but also need to work harder to hook enough people to move gameplay forward

    2. Create a community of gameplay followers (people begin to know each other and designate tasks because there are fewer of them)

    3. Games often made simply for the enjoyment and challenge sought by the creators

  1. Grassroots Example

    1. Lockjaw

      1. Created by Cloudmakers, an online community that grew out of fans of The Beast game made for AI

      2. Cloudmakers helped to create a new forum specifically dedicated to Lockjaw called JawBreakers where people helped each other solve clues and discuss the game

      3. This pioneer forum eventually led to forums like the hub of ARG community discussion

  1. Productized/Commercial

    1. ARG isn’t made to promote a separate product, but rather to sell elements essential to the ARG

    2. Less emphasis on “this is not a game,”—the game itself is sometimes even advertised

    3. ARG as a new business model!

  1. Productized/Commercial Example

    1. Perplex City is an ARG developed by Mind Candy (alternate reality game company)

    2. Ongoing

    3. Ultimate goal (of first “season”) was to find the Receda Cube which was an important artifact stolen from the fictional Perplex City--£100,000 reward

    4. Along the way players had to buy cards with puzzles to advance in the game (funded the game)

  1. Single-Player

    1. Designed to be played by oneself at one’s leisure

    2. Often are not constrained to as strict a story timeline (not as many major events that only happen once, but more individual puzzle solving)

    3. Players who come midway through the game can catch up by reading previous solutions (much more linear gameplay)

  1. Single-Player Example

    1. The LOST experience

      1. used to advertise Lost

      2. put players in the world of Lost, finding clues and being led along via websites, tv, newspapers, & books

      3. people could essentially play the games from their home, and just follow along with what had already been discovered if need be.

  1. Training/Educational

    1. Corporate training/team building under the guise of an ARG

    2. Plays on the need for collaboration in ARG’s to teach collaboration within the workplace

    3. Intended to provide knowledge, not a prize or advertise a product

  1. Training/Educational Example

    1. SMB: Missed Steaks

      1. Designed by Brooke Thompson for her alternate reality game design company

      2. played utilizing the company intranet, it was intended to foster team building by creating an alternate world where miscommunication led to much more outrageous results

  1. In designing an ARG, 3 main things must be kept in mind

    1. Exposition + Interaction + Challenges

    2. Exposition

      1. story has to be very rich and often complex since much of the gameplay is about piecing together a story rather than simply playing a game in a traditional sense.

      2. Designed usually to begin quite vaguely and unfold as more info is discovered by players

      3. Current world and backstory often created with things such as character blogs, in-world video segments (such as the humorous intro video to “This Is My Milwaukee”), in-world websites for corporations, etc.

  1. Interaction

    1. This really immerses the player in the story

    2. Interaction can be with

      1. in-game characters

      2. more importantly OTHER PLAYERS!

    3. KEY: players need to feel as if their actions have some effect on the events and outcome of the game

    4. Commonly done through chats, phone calls, email, blogs, and live events!

  1. Challenges

    1. Core of gameplay itself (what the players DO)

    2. Random gameplay highlights in short

      1. scavenger hunts

      2. mini-games

      3. being led to real items

      4. meeting actors playing characters in the game

      5. paranormal encounters

      6. solving puzzles

      7. codebreaking

      8. hacking into source code of websites

      9. decoding and traveling to coordinates

      10. attending events where events in the ARG story unfold

  1. Problems do arise when designing ARGs--difficulties run into are characteristic of upstart media types

    1. too expensive

    2. not mainstream enough (only geeks play)

    3. getting an ARG to catch on is kind of a crap shoot

    4. skill level of players

  1. Future of ARGs

    1. Getting away from ARG clichés (secret society, decoding source code for a website, etc.)

    2. Greater focus on solid, understandable storytelling and immersion (what I’ve been doing in designing my ARG)

    3. More focus on interesting LIVE events (creates an intensely visceral impact) as more technologies arise that allow these to become more spectacular and realistic.

  1. Sources

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