Image: Public domain image of a Honey Bee, Jon Sullivan, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bees_Collecting_Pollen_2004-08-14.jpg
Why i love bees: ARG and collective intelligence
Why I love bees Alternate Reality Gaming Taken From: Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming, Jane McGonigal, 2007Alternate Reality Gaming, Kim, Allen & Lee, 2008 Jordan Weisman, Edge Interview, 2009
ARG 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.(Wikipedia, emphasis mine)
The Hidden Game“A typical ARG would not even acknowledge or promote the fact that it is a game, yet every Web site or discussion group may contain and reveal a potential clue”, Kim et al.
Features• Compelling Narrative• Collaborative Gameplay• Multiple communication channels: – Web pages, email, phone calls, print media, ...• Game players create own channels – Discussion boards, email, meetings, ...• Developers can respond to players actions – Performance not product
I Love Bees• First major successful ARG was The Beast – a game tied to the Spielberg film AI, and seeded through clues in movie posters• Second was I Love Bees – a game tied to the release of Halo 2 – Seeded initially with jars of promotional honey sent to journalists – ilovebees.com URL shown at end of Halo 2 cinema trailer
Ilovebees.com• An apparently hacked bee lover’s web-site – Mysterious meaningless messages – Ominous count-down timer – Message from the amateur web-site admin asking for help • Goes into hiding after exchanging around 100 emails with players• No stated goals or rules
Backstory• From the Halo universe, a ship controlled by a sentient ‘good’ AI has crash landed on Earth – Hiding on the internet – Web admin deletes part of the AI memory• Other sentient AI programs and one Covenant AI are also on Earth• Players have to work out what is happening first – before they can help
Collective Intelligence (CI)• Challenge: “To create puzzles and challenges that no single person could solve on their own” (Elan Lee, director)• Solved by approx 100,000 active players over 4 months (3 million players in total) – One million message board posts – 33,000 chat messages/day
Responding to Players• Community discussion boards, fan pages and IRC channels were monitored• Story adapted to respond to player actions – E.g. When the good AI’s hiding place was given away by some players – Can also push more clues as needed, or add extra puzzles if players progress is too rapid• Key sections planned ahead, but adapted as needed
Participatory Design“Players assumed that the ILB design teamknew exactly how the game would unfold andtherefore would always be a step ahead of theplayers. When the game concluded inNovember 2004, ILB gamers were genuinelysurprised to hear the design team say thegamers themselves had control over how theplot unfolded.” Kim et al.
Building CI• Collective problem solving of gamers in ARGs is a key feature• Serious applications? – As a teaching tool – Large scale role play (“real play”) problem solving: generating novel solutions for real problems
References• Weisman, J. (2009, December). Traveller: Interview with Jordan Weisman. Edge, (208), 78-83.• Kim, J. Y., Allen, J. P., & Lee, E. (2008). Alternate reality gaming. Commun. ACM, 51(2), 36-42. doi:10.1145/1314215.1314222• McGonigal, J. (2007). Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning, (The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning), 199-227. doi:10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.199• ARGOSI, http://argosi.playthinklearn.net/index.htm