Serious Games - ARGs

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Alternate Reality Games Chad Haefele Reference Librarian for Emerging Technologies, Davis Library [email protected] Slides online:

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Transcript of Serious Games - ARGs

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Alternate Reality Games

Chad HaefeleReference Librarian for Emerging Technologies, Davis Library

[email protected] online:

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The Beast 2001, A.I. Movie poster:

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What is an ARG?

An immersive storytelling experience Multimedia The real world is the publishing medium Collaborative

“No one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity”

Pierre Levy, Collective Intelligence

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Example: I Love Bees 2004, promoted Halo 2

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Example: Last Call Poker

2005, promoted Gun

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Example: The Dark Knight


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Grassroots/Self Sustaining ARGs

Metacortechs – 2003 Perplex City – 2005

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“Rabbit Hole”: The method of an ARG’s launch

“Puppet Master” (PM): A person running an ARG

“This is not a game”: Many ARGs don’t explicitly admit they are games.

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Tiers of play


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Real-world crossover

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Anatomy of a puzzle

Mysterious audio file: rf992388ls.mp3

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One spectrograph later…

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Anatomy of a live event

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Synchronous vs. Asychronous

Players can come together

Players can collaborate apart


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‘Viral’ vs. ‘Experience’ vs. ‘Game’

Same tools used in all three

‘Viral’ is often a one-time event or production

‘Experience’ is a trail of puzzles & interactions, linear, repeatable

‘Game’ is more collaborative, longer term

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Why participate?

Swag! Recognition Immersion ‘Wow’ factor Interesting stories

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Serious Game: Year Zero

2007, Nine Inch Nails Civil Resistance

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Serious Game: World Without Oil

2007, non-promotional Asychronous, collaborative, explicitly

educational Worked on a limited budget See also:

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Serious game: Skeleton Chase

IU Bloomington, Fall 2008 Structured around physical


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Serious Game: Ghosts of a Chance

Smithsonian, 2008

Final report:


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Teaching about issues

Players re-interpret their lives Imagining the issues inspires real thinking


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Information Literacy ACRL Info Literacy standards (in part): Students should be able to…

"Recognize that existing information can be combined with original thought, experimentation, and/or analysis to produce new information."

"Identify the value and differences of potential resources in a variety of formats (multimedia, database, website, book)"

"Create a system for organizing information"

"Utilize technology for studying the interaction of ideas and other phenomena"

"Validate understanding and interpretation of the information through discourse with other individuals…"

"Apply new and prior information to the planning and creation of a particular product or performance."

"Manipulate digital text, images, and data, as needed, transferring them from their original locations and formats to a new context."

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Tangential Learning

Expose a player to new ideas and potential for learning, without forcing it on them (source: )

ARGs can take it even further: learn new skills along the way

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So you want to play an ARG…


Community: Unforums:

Ongoing ARG:

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So you want to make an ARG...

Allow far more time than you think Complete everything in advance Target a core audience to start Structure around the tiers of play Story is key Monitor your community of players

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For further reading

Dena, Christy. "Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games." Convergence 14.1 (2008): 41-57.

Kim, Jeffrey Y., Jonathan P. Allen, and Elan Lee. "ALTERNATE REALITY GAMING. (Cover Story)." Communications of the ACM 51.2 (2008): 36-42.

Szulborski, Dave. This is Not a Game : A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming. [Pennsylvania]: New-Fiction Pub., 2005.

IU Bloomington gets $185k grant-

The Power of Tangential Learning -