Saturday, April 30, 2005

holy crap what a rabbithole, right?

So I was simply going back to the beggining of this blog and followed ONE link, to cloudmakers, which I had checked up on probly a year ago (more I guess), and found this whole new niche world of "ARG" (which I think is a pretty funny acronym, but hey).

I don't have time to properly explore all the links I just posted, when I found context I posted it, just in case these are transient sites. Perhaps I will have time to explore more, but if these things interest you and you find more stuff, please leave comments or email me.
Adventure Gamers: Pervasive adventure games feature
As far as I can tell, Majestic was the first pervasive adventure game. Its publisher EA advertised it as being The Game: the game – it would essentially "take over your life" for ten dollars a month (the reference is to the David Fincher movie). By blurring the lines between fact and fiction, Majestic was designed to induce high levels of paranoia. Players had to take clues from mysterious midnight phone calls, anonymous e-mails and faxes, and fake websites. However, it turned out few people were actually interested in paying for that. EA pulled the plug not long after its launch. The reason for its failure may have been that gamers were uncomfortable with allowing a game to intrude their daily lives. On the other hand, most players reported that the game didn't deliver on its prime selling point — the mysterious phone calls and e-mails were quite obviously part of the game. Regardless of whatever the reason was for Majestic's quick demise, it was an adventure game, although not recognized as one at the time. The gameplay focused completely on research and clue gathering. Majestic was much like an X-Files mystery, where players could peel off layer upon layer of a big conspiracy. Although Majestic was a little self-obsessed so to say with its focus on technology angst, it was the first commercial experiment in pervasive gaming.

In Memoriam is another pervasive adventure, but it's very different from Majestic both in its commercial success and its contents. Whereas Majestic's story dealt with UFOs and an all-encompassing government conspiracy, In Memoriam casts you in the role of a simple investigator, tasked with finding a serial killer. The game combines full motion video clips and in-game puzzles with web research and e-mail. In Memoriam's marketing campaign was decidedly more successful than that of Majestic. Instead of claiming that its pervasive gameplay would 'spook you out', it said it would draw you in and compel you to solve the puzzles.

In his review of In Memoriam, Jim Saighman explains that there's no apparent exploration or character interaction in the game, which leaves many in doubt whether In Memoriam is a true adventure game. Jim says that it is an adventure game — and I agree. In Memoriam is founded upon puzzle solving and story development, two essential components of adventure games. While there is no exploration in the sense of moving an avatar on the screen, the player is sent on a trail hunt through various websites (both fake and real ones). Although the browsing of a website may appear to be unrelated to adventure gaming, I wouldn't say it's very different on a conceptual level. The pervasive elements of In Memoriam are an integral part of the game world which players have to explore. You could even consider the e-mail correspondence of In Memoriam as an equivalent of character interaction in a traditional adventure game.

There is more pervasive gaming to be found outside of the game industry. As part of a guerrilla marketing campaign for the movie A.I., Microsoft and Dreamworks designed and operated a web-based game in 2001, known by its players as “The Beast” or “the A.I. Game”. The game was never officially announced, nor did it require any form of subscription. Instead, the movie's trailer contained a hint leading to the game, causing curious viewers to stumble upon the game by accident. Although no one told the players they were playing a game, everyone knew the events were orchestrated by an anonymous team of developers — the “Puppet Masters” — who updated the game every Tuesday.

A.I. was different from In Memoriam and Majestic in that it was inherently collaborative. Most puzzles in A.I. were so difficult that they required the involvement of the entire player community to be solved. Puzzles had players reading Göedel, Escher, Bach, translating from German, Japanese, and an obscure language called Kannada, decrypting Morse and Enigma code, and performing a range of operations on sound and image files downloaded and swapped between players. A.I. was, essentially, a collaborative multiplayer adventure game — perhaps even the first one. (E-mail me if you know of an earlier example.)

However, pervasive games can be taken one step further. Uncle Roy Is All Around You is an experimental location-based game that was funded by Microsoft Research and a number of academic sponsors, such as the University of Nottingham. During May and June 2003, street players — working alone, equipped with PDAs and wireless connections — explored the city of London in search for clues that would get them closer to the location of a mysterious Uncle Roy. Meanwhile, internet players could either collaborate or interfere with the street player's effort through an online 3D modeled map of the city. Street players had to make their location known at certain intervals in exchange for hints — dots on the 3D city map represented the positions of the various street players.

I'd known about Uncle Roy for some time, probably (but not sure) through locative academics such as or I hadn't made the connection b/w those types of games and immersive/web/nonlinear games, but damn if it ain't obvious.

also: Adventure Gamers: The Future of Adventure Games feature


Main Page - ARGFestNYC (a wiki)

The Trail of the Heist

The Trail of the Heist

Grand Text Auto

Grand Text Auto: procedural narrative, games, poetry, and art.

sean stewart

sean stewart


Vital Interactive Media-Alternate Reality

Vital Interactive Media-Alternate Reality
In addition to music and audio, VIM is also involved in the development of dynamic media experiences known as pervasive 'alternate reality' games.

In these types of games, a dynamic online world is created, consisting of multiple websites, interactive characters, live phone numbers, emails, phone calls to the players, instant messages and realworld clues. It's the job of the player to follow clues, respond to realtime challenges, and solve puzzles to progress in the story.

This is a very new, cutting edge genre that has attracted the press as well as earned an interested player base in the hundreds of thousands, with more interested every day. Gaming experiences have effectively been used for promoting games, films and television shows, as well as for corporate teambuilding and training.

The experience can provide additional story elements, run parallel to an existing storyline, or stand completely on its own, all the while building momentum and gaining the attention of players in a variety of demographic markets as well as the press.

With an effective stealth launch and no 'official' tie-in admitted to by anyone, the mystery of what's going on adds to the fun and addiction for the players. In addition, this air of mystery inevitably leads to media coverage, as well.

Here is the entry point to a recent game. Start poking around and see if you can find out how deep the rabbit hole goes! Or, if you'd like a shortcut to more, click here.

jadedmedia experience 2

jadedmedia experience 2
jadedmedia is an online project put together by a team of collaborators. the intention is to keep you guessing by helping you see what you already know. the project has been put together by friends, colleagues, and allies. it is an alternative to what you would normally do in a place that is not even there.

jadedmedia started out as a lie. it evolved into a half-truth. in its present form, it can hide the lies through half-truths, or it can expose the half-truths through lies. it's all up to the eye of the beholder.

jadedmedia is a beautiful thing in the ugliest sense. it is the high, the low, the far, the near, the up, the down. it is a veritable fountain of information, but it's really not saying much of anything,

jadedmedia is what you make of it. you are the beholder. #

ReGenesis Extended Reality

regenesistv's ReGenesis Extended Reality

developed by xenophile media

EpiGuide: Web Entertainment

EpiGuide: Web Entertainment

From her bio:
I'm a Ph.D. candidate in Performance Studies with a designated emphasis in New Media Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.  I'm also a member of UC Berkeley's Alpha Lab in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and a resident game designer for the Berkeley Institute of Design.

Outside of academia, I am an active game designer (high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech), currently with 42 Entertainment (named Most Enterprising New Business in the 2005 Best of the Bay).  I specialize in massively-collaborative game models and games that are played in everyday public spaces. Some of them have won awards (I Love Bees won the 2005 Innovation Award from the International Game Developers Association and was honored by the New York Times' 2004 Year in Review; the Go Game was named "Best Way to Rediscover Your City" in 2002.) Most of my creative projects are covered by strict Non-Disclosure Agreements or secret blood pacts, or both. However, I give away some of my secrets here.

...and lots of pictures of herself. {aside: is there some inverse relationship between academic tech/design involvement and actual well designed personal/public websites?}

4 o r t y 2 w o

~4 o r t y 2 w o~ . . . Capabilities & Approach
At 42 Entertainment, we help our clients bring their brand and product message to consumers through immersive, entertainment-based alternative marketing campaigns.

Our aim is to carve the client's world into today's cultural landscape, so that, like Middle Earth or Hogwarts, it becomes a priority destination for the American imagination.

We tell our stories in the form of 'search operas' -- narratives that spill off the page, the screen, the web, the phone--and into peoples' lives. We don't send an advertising message into the maelstrom of other competing messages: we reverse-engineer the process, so that the consumer comes looking for our campaign and our client's product. We create communities passionately committed to spending not just their money but their imaginations in the worlds we represent.

Ok, what I find really interesting is that I was thinking toolset and obviously a lot of people were thinking marketing/design firm. I wonder what Hugh would think of these co's.


VirtuQuest.Com: "Where Reality and The Internet Converge"

Pretty cheesy again, but from their about page:
VQC is an Internet Design Company specializing in tailor made Internet Adventures. These "NetVentures" can be based on any storyline desired to suit your needs.

NetVentures are designed as intriguing mysteries where participants help unfold the story. As a participant you search the internet for clues, use your intellect to crack coded messages, interact with real characters within the storyline, solve cutting edge technology based puzzles and communicate with other individuals that are involved in the mystery. The point of the adventure is to bring reality and real life interaction into the game. That is of 'course, if it is a game?

A NetVenture is an integrated Internet experience where players participate in a story that unfolds through a series of Clues, Puzzles, Contacts and Research. Storylines can range from simple missing persons to corporate espionage. Players begin a NetVenture by being prompted to a web site via an Email, Fax, or any other way of communication. Flyers, Newspaper Ads and Billboards have been used for large NetVentures.

The fun in a NetVenture is the progression of events and information that a player discovers. By decoding a secret message or discovering a password to a blocked Internet node, players reveal story components to solve the NetVenture.

VirtuQuest can create an interactive Internet experience "Net Venture" for individuals or groups to participate and become part of the adventure. Through a wide array of interactivity, such as Flash, Shockwave, Java Script, Online Video, Online Voice Mail, fax machines, Personal Cell Phones, and even real life contacts / "dead drops", participants will be immersed in an adventure story developed specifically for them.

Imagine being part of an adventure where you are the covert operative searching out mysterious contacts or being the first participant contacted by a secret informant with information about your adventure. Participants visit and search real Internet Web Sites, Data Bases and Message Boards to gain information in order to solve puzzles, decode messages or post information.

VirtuQuest designs NetVentures for all types of needs:

* Corporate team building activities
* Internet education awareness
* Group technology experience, i.e. Boy Scouts
* Publicity or Ad campaign

Perplex City

Perplex City

As referenced in the prior post/site.

...on 5/5/2005, "massively multiuser online entertainment · biology · space" the personal weblog of Adrian Hon, featuring articles on massively
multiplayer online entertainment and science. The 'middling' and 'tiny'
sections include more general posts and links.

When someone asks me what I do, I used to be able to say that I was
a neuroscientist. This was a wonderfully simple and, as it turned out,
apparently very impressive answer, especially when backed up with the
whole Oxford-PhD thing.

Unfortunately, those days are now gone. I left my PhD at Oxford in August 2004 to work in London on something called Perplex City
(formerly named Project Syzygy). Gone was the easy answer to that
standard question. For the first few weeks in my new job, I actually
attempted to give an accurate answer, which went something along the
lines of:

"Well, do you remember the movie A.I. by Steven Speilberg? See, Microsoft and Dreamworks SKG did this marketing campaign for the film..." and so on.

This wasn't an answer that could last. Not only was it too long, but
people still didn't understand what it was that I did. So I changed it

"I work in a multimedia entertainment company developing a new type of cross-platform game."

Slightly better, but not really any more informative since I
generally ended up explaining the whole thing all over again. I then
made a radical change to it and now when asked, I simply say:

"I'm a puzzle designer."

If they want to know more, fine, if not, at least we've both saved
some time. It's not a particularly accurate answer but it'll have to do
until Perplex City launches and I can just tell people that I work on

I do other things apart from being a 'puzzle designer'. I'm the editor of New Mars

(which I have been horribly neglecting of late) and a member of the
Mars Society UK steering committee, and I hold several other positions
within the Mars Society International. In 2001, I was a moderator for
the Cloudmakers community following Microsoft's AI online immersive game and wrote the Guide for the game.

I still retain a healthy interest in neuroscience and recently I
contributed a chapter to 'Mind Hacks', a neuroscience book being
published by O'Reilly.

Most recently with the very interesting The Reality Artificers: "How the BBC, Orson Welles, ancient Egyptian scribes and alternate reality game designers all follow the same 3900 year old tradition." This Is Not A Game.

Pretty cheesy site promoting the book "This Is Not A Game."
Imagine a world of mystery and excitement, adventure and fantasy, waiting for you to explore. A world that reacts to your every move, with characters and companies that talk to you, send you messages, and even give you items to help you in your quest. A world so immersive that you can no longer tell where the reality ends and the fiction begins. Welcome to the world of Alternate Reality Gaming. This Is Not A Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming by Dave Szulborski is the perfect introduction to the unique and exciting world of Alternate Reality Games. Written by the creator of five successful and critically acclaimed ARGs, This Is Not A Game features detailed sections on the theory and history of Alternate Reality Gaming, as well as a “How To Guide” for aspiring game creators. The book also includes Dave’s personal reflections on creating some of the most popular ARGs ever developed, and essays on gaming and cooperative writing by award winning authors Ben Mack and Joseph Matheny.

I'll leave the rest of my negative comments to myself, but I'm still considering laying out the 25 clams at lulu for the book.

Immersion Museum

Miramontes Studios / Jim Miller: Immersion Museum
Interested in immersive techniques in entertainment marketing? We're collecting examples here in the Immersion Museum -- summaries, links, and opinions on the latest uses of immersive techniques. And, as befits the term museum, you'll also find here the most innovative uses of immersive techniques from the past. - Your Source for ARG Humor

MetaUrchins Book Project

MetaUrchins Book Project

Creating a book from an ARG. Similar to what I proposed here.

The online book requires the Flash plugin. Will have to look at that later.

Check out their very readable About Us (and then some).
This website was formed as a hub for the creation of a book chronicling the recently concluded "MetaCortex" Alternate Reality Game (ARG).  "MetaUrchins" is just a name we came up with to identify the many players of the ARG. As you may have already seen, the book is still a work in progress, and we're always adding to and changing it. Once we finish it and decide it's ready, we may publish it through CafePress Publishing.
In the summer of 2003, a fascinating socio-zoological development in the MetaUrchin sub-civilization occurred. Hearing a beacon call previously known only to birds preparing to migrate for the winter (or perhaps demonstrating characteristics commonly found in another red-eyed, furry creature, the lemming), hundreds of MetaUrchins began congregating around the vicinity of Unfiction, a formerly pristine and untouched wilderness of the internet, whose ecosystem soon buckled under the weight and pure bandwidth-consuming power of these resource-sucking byte monkeys.

In numbers far too great to be tabulated by any hit counter, they came. No cyberscape was left unsullied, no stone was left unturned, no Flash was left undecompiled. And what was the clarion call that beckoned these fair travelers to their voracious feedings? Sustenance? Wealth? Manifest Destiny? No. They came to play an Alternate Reality Game.

I'm not sure about this one, but they're using Mambo, which has some interesting features, it seems...
With the successful relaunch of the website, deaddrop has redefined its mission. Our goal is to be the definitive resource for experienced and prospective PuppetMasters.

ARGN - Alternate Reality Gaming Network

ARGN - Alternate Reality Gaming Network

I love bees

I love bees



Networks & Narratives Networks & Narratives
Models and theories from disciplines like complex adaptive systems should be deployed in this regard, Davis and Alleyne recommended. Organisations like IBM's Cynefin Centre have developed classifications of knowledge work into categories like known, knowable, complex and chaotic, focusing not just on storytelling but on narrative analysis for collaborative sense-making and decision-making inputs. Tools like participatory observation, anecdote circles, deep immersion, organisational metaphors and naive interviews are useful in this regard.

Storytelling is used to promote knowledge sharing at NASA, via Transfer Wisdom Workshops and Project Management Shared Experiences Program conducted by the Academy of Program and Project Leadership (APPL).

In terms of narrative structuring, tools like 'knowledge blogging' (or k-logs, a term coined by John Robb, president of Userland) have a lot of potential. Stories are a good framework for sharing information, meaning and knowledge. Blogs encourage story-telling and foster understanding because they usually offer context,' according to Darlene Fichter, library coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan Library.

'Knowledge blogs help encourage brain dumps, exploration, and think-aloud behaviour. They create connected content, break down silos, allow comments, and can also be treasured as useful searchable archives,' she observed.

Besides, over time, blogs are self-rewarding. 'Often bloggers report that they discover their own interests and refine their perspectives. It leads to peer recognition,' according to Fichter.

Klogs are also a useful, low-cost and flexible tool for competitive intelligence (CI), said Arik Johnson, managing director of Aurora WDC. Well-designed CI blogs can help collect, analyse, package, and deliver current awareness and early warning of competitive and regulatory developments for sales staff and top managers.

Blogs help write thought pieces to guide the organisation on a strategic path. Bloggers can collect and connect information and provide useful overlays of context. 'Blogging has enough critical mass and momentum, and will soon be integrated with other KM tools,' predicted Johnson.

Monitoring, metrics and measurement are important requisites to understanding the effect of KM networks and narrative databases, but companies often confuse technology, process, knowledge, employee and business metrics.