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Mobile Social Technology & Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG)


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Originally presented to the Australian Film Television and Radio School in April 2009. Examines some emerging mobile social technologies, and how they can enable new forms of story-telling. Also covers my personal journey into a Star Trek Alternate Reality Game that involves me sending pictures of sheep to strangers in Paris using Twitter.

Published in: Business, Technology

Mobile Social Technology & Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG)

  1. 1. Mobile Social Technology & Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) Bob Hitching Director of Technology, Xumii 22 April 2009 Twitter: @hitching A presentation to the Australian Film Television and Radio School
  2. 2. Story or technology? <ul><li>The story comes first </li></ul><ul><li>However, “ the medium is the message ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New stories become possible using new media </li></ul></ul><ul><li>So let’s look at some mobile social technologies that will enable new forms of narrative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>My objective today: convince you that some of your time should be invested in keeping an eye on emerging mobile social technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Then: m y personal journey into an ARG </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why I have been sending pictures of sheep to strangers in Paris using Twitter </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Twitter - <ul><li>Twitter is the simplest way for anyone to publish stuff </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A Tweet is a 140 character update via SMS originally, then web, IM, email, iPhone </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other users follow your tweets if they value your content. Tweets get published out to followers in real-time (originally by SMS) </li></ul><ul><li>The hockey stick surprise is that many people are now sourcing lots of their information in this way </li></ul><ul><li>Old media is struggling to keep up. E.g. Susan Boyle, Ashton Kutcher, Oprah. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Truth or Fiction? <ul><li>Big challenge for old media </li></ul><ul><li>Big opportunity for ARGs? </li></ul>There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy. Steve Jobs was rushed to ER after severe heart attack
  5. 5. Twittervision <ul><li>One example of a real-time publishing medium </li></ul><ul><li>Adds geography, but lacks any narrative threading </li></ul>
  6. 6. twitpic <ul><li>Adds pictures & credibility to Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Mostly mobile </li></ul><ul><li>Extract GPS position from EXIF data </li></ul><ul><li>450k views of Hudson River plane crash </li></ul>
  7. 7. iPhone accelerometer <ul><li>Adds roll, pitch and yaw </li></ul>
  8. 8. Photosynth <ul><li>2007: a Microsoft Labs demo that many thought was smoke and mirrors </li></ul><ul><li>2008: it actually works </li></ul>
  9. 9. Google Latitude <ul><li>Adds user location </li></ul><ul><li>Adds lots of privacy issues and controls </li></ul>
  10. 10. Xumii - mobile social networking platform <ul><li>Plugs you into all your social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live, Google Talk, Yahoo Chat, more soon) </li></ul><ul><li>… and lets you real-time chat and share stuff (photos, gifts, videos, more soon) with all your friends using your phone (Nokia, SonyEricsson, Motorola, iPhone, Android, Blackberry) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Video - and <ul><li> does what it says on the tin </li></ul><ul><li> is real-time mobile video streaming </li></ul>
  12. 12. Video synth <ul><li>Synthesis of multiple user generated videos into a single coherent visual thread </li></ul><ul><li>… probably coming sooner than you might think </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remember the surprise of Google Earth, and Google Maps Street View? </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Checkpoint <ul><li>The medium is the message </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeping an eye on emerging mobile social technologies will allow us to create new forms of narrative </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Now, my personal experience with StarTrekARG </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The narrative is still surfacing as I write this slide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>My interpretation of characters and events is possibly totally wrong, and probably influenced by me writing this presentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I’m now addicted so don’t take the piss </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let’s focus on h ow the technology has influenced the story so far </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Star Trek Dance Party <ul><li>Photos posted on the internet </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Some photos have been airbrushed to include website addresses, e.g. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>This website plays a flash movie of mostly static, but including some imagery from the upcoming movie </li></ul><ul><li>and codes: Fe Ca Si Al which translate to more websites </li></ul>
  17. 17. Ca = <ul><li>Variants of the flash movie, including an encrypted message which resolves to the IP address of another website … </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>This site (after a few days) displays a chat room conversation </li></ul><ul><li>PHPChatUser2 mentions an intersection in Paris </li></ul>PHPChatUser1: テスト中、テスト中。誰かいる?僕が時間より早いのはわかってるんだけど、誰か応答もらえた? ____PHPChatUser1 has disconnected____ PHPChatUser2: Carrefour de la Rue de la Fédération et Rue de Presles ____PHPChatUser2 has disconnected____
  19. 19. <ul><li>Someone called Malak0 posts on that he has found a strange device at that precise location </li></ul><ul><li>Bob’s contribution: it’s all about Kronenbourg lager (my link got 1,200 clicks over 3 days) </li></ul>
  20. 20. Lost & Found <ul><li>Malak0 asks for the owner to email him to arrange the return of the device </li></ul><ul><li>Emails reveal Malak0 could be playing the character of The Little Prince </li></ul><ul><li>Bob’s contribution; according to the Twitter API, Malak0 has a Twitter account @MaLaK0 created at the same time, and is a student at Boston </li></ul>
  21. 21. Meanwhile, @ aliceforrest700 <ul><li>Character is Alice through the Looking Glass </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter seeded with hashtag #StarTrekARG </li></ul><ul><li>Bob’s contribution: if an ARG agency wanted to create some viral (and measurable) buzz around a movie in Q1’09, of course they’d use Twitter! </li></ul>
  22. 22. updated <ul><li>@PHPChatUser5 is common Twitter syntax </li></ul><ul><li>PHPChatUser1 … 5 are found to have Twitter accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Talk of posting locations and time … real-time mobile geo social  </li></ul>PHPChatUser5: I’ll post locations as I find the key fields. I’ll need you to go them exactly when I say. … PHPChatUser5: Pictures are tough here, but we must start sending each other the access points - @PHPChatUser5 . Not sure yet how to get Ca’s – but the input site will soon be live for all our fixes, hopefully generates something that works.
  23. 23. Some observations <ul><li>Truth of Fiction: is Malak0 in-game or OOG? </li></ul><ul><li>Audience struggling with “old new media” forums for communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Signal / noise ratio is not good </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Setting up wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Setting up live chats to talk faster </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bob’s contribution: suggesting everyone move the conversation to Twitter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Actually FriendFeed would be better but Twitter is a good first step into real-time social media </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Game moves inside Twitter <ul><li>Game characters talking to each other on Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Profile image contains an image of Johann Christoph Bayer, plus a watermarked QR code which decodes to the message “APUS01:05” </li></ul><ul><li>APUS is a constellation of stars discovered by Johann Bayer </li></ul>
  25. 25. Audience moves inside Twitter <ul><li>Game characters talking with audience </li></ul><ul><li>Massive viral distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Measurable </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for pictures, video, mobile, geo, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>New forms of narrative? </li></ul>
  26. 26. [updated 22 April 8am] MaLaK0 posts a video of the device on YouTube <ul><li>The device has a QR code visible underneath… </li></ul>
  27. 27. Mobile Social Technology & Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) Bob Hitching Director of Technology, Xumii 22 April 2009 Twitter: @hitching That’s all for today – any questions? Stay connected by following @hitching and #StarTrekARG