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Asek Core ARG


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The highlights of the Asek Core ARG produced with Flint Dille through UCLA.

Published in: Entertainment & Humor
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Asek Core ARG

  1. 1. ASEK CORE ARG<br />The Experience <br />
  2. 2. The project<br />The ASEK CORE Alternate Reality Game was an experimental ARG developed through UCLA’s media lab with the collaboration of trans-media veteran Flint Dille. <br />
  3. 3. The goal<br /> To develop and launch a 3 week online game experience that would culminate in a 2 hour Real-World experience on campus. <br /> Following a classic ARG structure the game was to unfold across various platforms including websites, blogs, facebook, forums, emails and text messages.<br />
  4. 4. The challenges<br /> Pre-launch:<br /> Selecting a theme for the game, developing the characters and story around it and creating the numerous assets required to tell the plot across multiple platforms in less than 7 weeks.<br />Going live: <br />Creating a successful rabbit hole to recruit players and interacting with them on a continual basis through email, facebook, message boards and text messages.<br />Establishing clear online game mechanics.<br />
  5. 5. The Rabbit hole<br /> The approach was to recruit players through flyers posted across campus. <br /> The first version using a mysterious “Live the Game” tag line showed little results. <br /> The second version specifically asking for Beta players drew more attention but the most successful one was the “Zombie alert” flyer later defaced with a “Stop the Game” message. <br />
  6. 6. Introducing the asek core<br />The link found on the flyers lead the players to the asek core website where they were asked a series of strange questions to “ascertain their asek core validity”. <br />
  7. 7. The Questions<br />Who did you root for in 'Terminator'? <br />Of all of the video game characters you’ve played, which one liked you the best? Why? <br />Have you ever used cheat codes to advance your game play? Do you feel guilty about it? Why or why not? <br />Do you believe a computer can be held responsible for a crime? Under what circumstances? <br />An image exists at the bottom of this page. What do you see in this picture? <br />
  8. 8. First contact<br />Players who answered the questions received an email from the mysterious asek core. <br />The email also contained the first puzzle. <br />
  9. 9. The forum<br />As players were trying to solve the asek core’s puzzles they were contacted by a “fellow” player named Macloud who had set up a forum to beat the game together. <br />
  10. 10. Tapping into the Hive mind<br /> The forum became a central location for players to discuss theories and share clues or new elements of the plot.<br />
  11. 11. Enter Allyson Aurora<br />Allyson is your regular student who likes to hang out with her friends, chat on facebook and blog about her daily life. She exchanges Valentine’s wishes with her boyfriend Brian and teases him about spending too much time playing “the game”.<br />
  12. 12. But all is not well…<br />Something strange happens to Brian while playing “the game” and one of Allyson’s friends captures the moment on camera. <br />Brian disappears and Allyson is now concerned that something happened to him.<br />She posts the footage on youtube warning people about the game and asking them for help.<br />But someone seems to be after her…<br />
  13. 13. Enter the players<br />Allyson goes into hiding.<br />She contacts the players on the message boards urging them to stop playing the game before they also get “brainwashed”. She asks them to send her an invitation on facebook but only if they can solve an enclosed riddle to prove that they are human and not part of the game. <br />But who is behind the game and what really happened to Brian?<br />
  14. 14. So the Game begins…<br /> As players are lead to various blogs, websites and videos they uncover the mystery behind Brian’s disappearance. <br />
  15. 15. The characters<br />Allyson Aurora: a girl on the run<br />
  16. 16. The characters<br />Brian Collyns: the missing boyfriend who was playing “the game”.<br />
  17. 17. The characters<br />Macloud: a “fellow player” on the message boards.<br />
  18. 18. The characters<br />Edgar Wright: <br />a Doctor with a dark secret<br />
  19. 19. The characters<br />Robyn McFaddin: an inquisitive journalist<br />
  20. 20. The characters<br />A mysterious “friend” who appears on Brian’s wall.<br />
  21. 21. The characters<br /> and … the asek core ??????<br />
  22. 22. The plot<br />The internet gained consciousness.<br />Its goal is to control humans to “better their lives”.<br />It discovered Dr. Edgar, a scientist who devised a brain-driving device.<br />With the help of this device it turned humans into “flesh puppets”. <br />It now uses “the game” to draw more humans into its web.<br />It already turned Brian into one of its agents.<br />Now it is after Allyson who is trying to stop the game.<br />
  23. 23. The twist<br />But how trustworthy is Allyson?<br />Why did she secretly meet with Dr. Edgar?<br />Is she part of the asek core?<br />
  24. 24. The clues<br />Clues were found in emails, websites, eCards, profiles, images and blogs.<br />
  25. 25. The tools used<br />
  26. 26. Online<br />Facebook<br />Character accounts<br />Secret Facebook group<br />Youtube<br />Tumblr<br />Gmail and yahoo accounts<br />Gmail voice<br />Google earth<br />eCards<br />Forumotion<br />Dedicated websites<br />
  27. 27. Real-World event<br />The team had to work with a minimal budget ie find creative solutions to bring the cygents (humans controlled by the AI) to life. We used flashlights and headsets to create our brand. <br />
  28. 28. Real-World event<br />Physical items were used as clues in various locations.<br />
  29. 29. Real-world event<br />Nearly 40 players showed up for the final confrontation.<br />Players had to text in answers to the onsite puzzles to receive further instructions from the asek core while avoiding the cygents. <br />
  30. 30. The resolution<br />In the end the players rescued Allyson and Dr. Edgar, retrieved a secret password to return all the flesh puppets to normal (including Brian) and defeated the asek core.<br />
  31. 31. What worked<br />Zombie flyer: It was the most successful version of our rabbit hole.<br />Intriguing story premise: a game that goes wrong, cygents and flesh puppets, a missing boyfriend and a girl that needs to be rescued.<br />Extremely flexible team, quick implementation of the various assets.<br />Presence across multiple mediums brought the story alive.<br />An active forum to keep players engaged.<br />Corroborative evidence in the form of external links.<br />Players loved the cygents.<br />
  32. 32. What didn’t work<br />Needed to have the story and assets in place before going live: missed opportunities, inconsistencies in the messages.<br />Troll on the message boards: needed to patrol them and potentially ban disruptive players<br />Privacy concerns: had to walk a fine line between TINAG and scaring players off. <br />The mechanics for the interaction with the cygents were not clearly defined.<br />Inconsistent location based puzzles: some worked well, others didn’t (math, sudoku)<br />
  33. 33. Lessons from a writing perspective<br />Think of how a story can be best told across various mediums and which medium to use for which story element (a blog, a facbook update, group notification, message board post, email, video…)<br />Learn to develop a multiple personality disorder because that’s what it will feel like when you keep logging in and out of various accounts, responding to yourself or to players as various characters.<br />Players will try to contact you when you least expect it. Example: I was logged in as Allyson, responding to messages she had received when a player realized I was online and started messaging me.<br />Fine line between being responsive and not losing the TINAG factor: <br />The many levels of a character: in one of the message board discussions a player posted a message for Macloud, stating he was his brother Fox. I went along with the joke, thinking this would be part of Macloud’s personality but one of the players perceived this as breaking the illusion. <br />
  34. 34. All is well that ends well<br />
  35. 35. Links for a first hand experience<br /> core website (Rabbithole)<br /> (article on Dr. Edgar’s research)<br /> (Edgar Wright website)<br /> (Allyson’sblog)<br /> (Dr. Edgar’s blog)<br /> (Robyn McFadden’s blog)<br /> (forum)<br /> (asek core phone message)<br /> (Brian’s eCard)<br /> (google earth file)<br /> (UCLA neuroscience article)<br /> (“Why I’m hiding” footage)<br /> (“Stop the game now” footage)<br />
  36. 36. Turn inturn onPlay hardlive the game<br />The Game isn’t over….<br /><br />@richard_dorian<br /> <br />