Designing Reusable ARGs


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CHI 2013 Presentation on Paper titled "Designing Reusable Alternate Reality Games"

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  • Just what are Alternate Reality Games?
  • It’s helpful to compare them to traditional video games first.In videogames, players interact with the game-world using joy-sticks or controllers and they are typically limited to one interface. ARG players are not limited to a single controller or interface. 
  • An ARG is played across many media, not just one, so ARGs are pervasive – their game space extends beyond the boundaries of most game interfaces.Also,ARG participantsusually play as themselves, using everyday tools like phones, texts, blogs, videos, wikis, email, snail mail….
  • In fact, in some ways, an ARG is not really a game at all. It’s an Interactive Story whose pieces are scattered and hidden in many different media. The core game mechanic of an ARG is that the players have to work together to find the story fragments and assemble them back into a meaningful narrative – so they’re really Story Archeologists.
  • If Sherlock Holmes were turned into an ARG, you might get a Facetime message from Holmes in which he shares the GPS coordinates of a location where you and some other players find an encrypted clue. Once you all decode it and email the evidence of your answer to Watson, he posts a blog about it to advance the story
  • Because of the way that the story fragments are scattered across various media– players have to work together to make sense of all the pieces.
  • Resource-IntensiveGreater ReachBigger Impact – especially for “serious ARGs” that aren’t meant as one-time advertising events (e.g., educational ARGs)DEREK starts Here
  • To some extent, reusable ARGs seem like an oxymoron. How can a genre that prides itself on the improvisational interplay between game designers and players be replayed? How can those replaying ARGs, which require online research and participation in online communities, shield themselves from the puzzle solutions and story spoilers that are scattered across the web? How can ARGs that rely upon geography be authentically ported to other locations? Is it possible to individually experience ARGs when their very nature requires collective problem solving and experiences? Can an ARG be “repackaged” or even archived in the first place, given that it plays out in such a multitude of media platforms? One example is that there’s no point in replaying the Sherlock Holmes’ mystery if everyone knows how the case was solved…..?
  • Use Sherlock Holmes Example to introduce each one:Replayable: A person may replay it and the ending may even come out differently depending on what choices they made.Adaptable: The story may play out in Paris instead of LondonExtensible: A spin-off story may be created using the characters from the original story
  • Replayable games can be replayed by the same user multiple times, or be produced several times.Challenges:1) Reducing spoilers and keep game fresh for those replaying it.2) Reducing narrative pointers to specific places or events (e.g., something that happens on June 6, 2013).
  • A game is adaptable if it can be reasonably modified to better meet the specific needs of a particular player, group of players, or context (e.g., location, time). Challenges include: - Designing narrative and content in a way that it can be easily modified and adapted to different audiences. For example, not tying things to specific geographic regions.- Keeping different player communities distinct from one another so that each can play without infringing upon the others’ experiences.
  • A game is extensible if it can be legitimately added to in a way that retains the authenticity of the original game, while extending it to do something else. Such games are not entirely reusable, but some aspects of them (e.g., characters, mythology, content, gameplay elements) are reusable. Challenges include:- Maintaining the canon; assuring that extensions are consistent with the existing canon, are integrated into the canon, and don’t limit future extensions.- Assuring that extensions meet a minimum quality.
  • DH still….
  • You – and 57 other classmates -- decide to take the Junto Oath.
  • Beth….you could simulate your life in a world caught in a global oil shock?This image is from the alternate reality game, World Without Oil, which sketched out the conditions of a realistic oil shock that about 2000 people played in hopes of developing feasible solutions for policy makers and educators to consider before an oil shock really happens. Its tagline was “play it – before you live it.”
  • DEREK closes…. Last 2 slides
  • In conclusion, if you’re interested in designing replayable ARGs and/or replayable mixed-reality games and transmedia storytelling experiences, take a look at our framework and add to the collection of design strategies and patterns we’re currently developing.
  • Designing Reusable ARGs

    1. 1. Designing Reusable ARGsDerek Hansen, Elizabeth Bonsignore,Marc Ruppel, Amanda Visconti, Kari KrausCHI 2013
    2. 2. Alternate Reality Games
    3. 3. Video GamesNOT
    4. 4. PervasiveAn ARG is…
    5. 5. An ARG is…Storytelling as Archeology“Alternate Reality Games.” Wikipedia.
    6. 6. Sherlock Holmes… as an ARG
    7. 7. An ARG is…Collaborative Sensemaking
    8. 8. Why make ARGs reusable?
    9. 9. Challenges to Reusability
    10. 10. MethodsInterviews15 ARG & TransmediaStorytelling expertsARG review
    11. 11. Framework: Types of ReuseReplayableAdaptableExtensible
    12. 12. ReplayableGames Stories
    13. 13. AdaptableGames Stories
    14. 14. ExtensibleGames Stories
    15. 15. Replayability Design StrategiesCyclical, event-driven playOngoing ExhibitPre-scripted TransmediaTouchesMultiple Story Paths
    16. 16. Adaptable Design StrategiesSecret Player CommunityOpen-ended ParticipatoryPre-enactmentLocation-based Gamewith common structure
    17. 17. “Play it – before you live it.”
    18. 18. Extensible Design StrategiesMultiple seasonsFrame NarrativeIn-game missionsSpin-off Products
    19. 19. Implications & Future WorkDesignPatternsFieldTestsPreservation
    20. 20. Framework + Design Strategies