Alternate Reality Games and an idea for mobile gaming

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) take a cross media approach to game play and attempt to bring the action more into the player’s day to day life. Wikipedia says that:

An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions.

The form is typified by intense player involvement with a story that takes place in real-time and evolves according to participants’ responses, and characters that are actively controlled by the game’s designers, as opposed to being controlled by artificial intelligence as in a computer or console video game. Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and often work together with a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities. ARGs generally use multimedia, such as telephones, email and mail but rely on the Internet as the central binding medium.

There is a new game in the field apparently, tied in to the Terminator based tv series The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It revolves around a revolutionary new type of camera which can photograph events from 1191 days in the future.

This video that I found on Boing Boing sets the scene

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/Atl6DcL3cwQ” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]

This “rabbit-hole” takes you on to the website for the company which is developing the camera – EniTech Research, where you can find more videos and presumably more ways of playing the game. (I haven’t looked into it yet)

Slightly off topic, I’ve been thinking about other options for “real-world” gaming – having a bit of a fascination with the sport of cyclogaining (a derivative of rogaining), which is kind of like a big bike based treasure hunt.

I was thinking (having been influenced by the mobile-obsession of my friend and colleague Len 🙂 that an addition to this might be to introduce some element of hunting your competitors by setting up a shared Flickr account and having everyone photograph the opposition on mobile phones and uploading these to Flickr. This would give a time-stamp of who got their pix up there first and thus who got the “kill”.

Haven’t really finished thinking that through yet but I reckon it has promise.

This entry was posted in activities, activity, ARG, experience, fun, game design, genres, missions, mobile games and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Alternate Reality Games and an idea for mobile gaming

  1. Marg says:

    Col, This is a fabulous idea! Love the mobile game idea – we must try it out one time! 🙂
    How would you structure the rules?

  2. colinsimpson says:

    Hmm, good question.

    For a fun game, you might take the scavenger hunt idea – say a list of locations – and have people moblog the image with a funny/clever/informative caption or use uploading mobile video to YouTube.

    Rules might include that the image needs to come from a specific phone – if Flickr doesn’t support this (by showing you the number of the phone that sent it), they could be sent to gmail. I guess ulimately the goals of the game would determine the rules.

    Fashion students might go out and shoot what people are wearing, marketing students might look at in-store displays, OHS might have to find 5 potential hazards (or examples of good hazard management) – the snapping each other part is a bit of an add-on I guess. (Although you could have a game which runs similar to the life-sized “Scotland Yard” type games that have been run in cities for a while now – the “criminal” has to moblog their location every 5 mins and the “cops” use this to track them? – http://www.culturehole.com/article.asp?blog_id=14

    (I think basically I just like the idea of running around the city playing spies 🙂

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