Obviously we care about the technical—we wouldn’t be at a conference on Information Technology if we didn’t recognize its importance.But we care about the tangible, as well, even (or perhaps especially!) in the context of the technical—the iPhone is an obvious example. It feels good. It looks good. We want to touch it, hold, caress it. (The Google phone? Not so much.)Apple understands the importance of the design of physical objects—Jonathan Ive’s role in the company is evidence of that. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kitcowan/731269699
Once things can interact with the Internet and with each other, they become inherently social objects. Increasingly, the technology to create these kinds of social objects is becoming affordable and usable.
“In conference call noone can hear you knit” – by permission of Patrick Barber, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollyandpatrick/1908914304/“Knitting” – CC Licensed by Tim Ducket, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tim_d/558954300/ (need larger version if there is one available)
RIT’s president and the D&C’s publisher organized a meeting in the spring of 2008 to discuss innovative partnerships, and in one of the meetings that followed I suggested to the editor of the paper and the head of multimedia that an ARG would be an ideal thing to collaborate on.
Like the kids in Babes in Arms, we had lots of enthusiasm, but not a a lot of knowledge of what we were undertaking. That’s a good thing, because if we’d known we probably wouldn’t have done it!
I knew just enough about ARGs to think that my interest in technical, tangible, social, boundary-blurring games would make it relatively easy to make one.
Then I sat down to start building the design document for the game, and suddenly things didn’t look quite so clear.
As the plans became more substantial, I did panic. I’d never done this before, and hadn’t a clue how to get started. So I convinced the paper to hire a consultant.
Elan Lee is one of the founders of the ARG genre, as well as a friend and an RIT alum. I convinced him to come out and consult with us for a ridiculously low fee. (No, I can’t tell you how much. No, he won’t do it for you. )
With Elan’s help, we identified the kinds of activities we wanted our target audience (young professionals) to engage in. Later, with Jane McGonigal’s help, we focused in on the VERBS that we wanted to associated with our game play.
LEARNWorking with a professor from RIT’s history department, we brainstormed key figures, events, and inventions associated with Rochester’s history.
EXPLOREWe looked at the neighborhoods that we thought our players would enjoy exploring, and the events happening in the fall that we could coordinate with.
SOCIALIZE We knew we wanted a party, held in RIT’s beautiful new Innovation Center. We decided that given the fall timeframe, a closing masked gala ball on Halloween made the most sense.
Then we fit our various themes into the space between classes starting and Halloween
Spring was planning.Summer was develoment.2 of their in-house developers work
One of our marketing students hit on the idea of tieing the name of the game itself to the community service aspect of the game, and we decided to work with our local public television station to film some promos.
They turned out to not be as compelling as we’d hoped….
So we approached a local animator to build us a more compelling promo
We also started a facebook page to build enthusiasm for the game.
All these paper models were created by Elouise. Full size versions of the newspaper couple will be placed around town next weekend for photo ops!
Need gears here
Coded tickets provided at 5-6 locations related to weekly themeCustom coupons can be printed on ticketAdvertiser location can be located near a landmark if it’s not related to themeCost: $500 per week
Donated laborDonations for basic technical functionality: $13K from BingDonations for charities: $14K from a local foundation
Technical/Tangible/Social Elizabeth Lane LawleyRIT Lab for Social ComputingMCLSOctober 2009
“One day we will look back with embarrassment on this era when all of our virtual experiences were trapped behind a screen. This advance will have great implications for the role of games within society, and the wider possibilities of tangible game experiences could make the word ‘game’ insufficient to describe what we are doing.” - Game design legend Masaya Matsuura “One day we will look back with embarrassment on this era when all of our virtual experiences were trapped behind a screen. This advance will have great implications for the role of games within society, and the wider possibilities of tangible game experiences could make the word ‘game’ insufficient to describe what we are doing.” - Game design legend Masaya Matsuura (pioneered the rhythm-based music genre)
“One day we will look back with embarrassment on this era when all of our virtual experiences were trapped behind a screen. This advance will have great implications for the role of computing within society, and the wider possibilities of tangible computing experiences could make the word ‘computing’ insufficient to describe what we are doing.”
Can you picture an entire community coming together to play a game? A game that helps you learn about your city? A game that encourages you to support local charities? It may sound impossible, but we don’t think it is. And we’re asking you to join us in picturing the impossible…
Challenges Huge investment (time, money, energy) Need early connections with local groups Selection of charities needs to be balanced, and charities need to be fully on-board Partnerships between organizations with different cultures are really hard Selling sponsorship and advertising in something so new is also really hard