Where Reality And Fiction Overlap: Alternate Reality Games A


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Slide show presentation by Mela Kocher of April 20th, 2011, at the Mobile Life VNN Excellence Center in Kista, Stockholm (Sweden).

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Where Reality And Fiction Overlap: Alternate Reality Games A

  1. 1. Where Reality and Fiction Overlap: Alternate Reality Games as a Space of Real Virtuality Mobile Life Presentation Mela Kocher April 20 th 2011
  2. 2. Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) <ul><li>Multi-platform games / Transmedia storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Games traditionally form a “magic circle” with boundaries to the ordinary life; are defined in space and time; participation is voluntary (Huizinga) </li></ul><ul><li>Fictional constructs usually show signs of fictionality (enactment, dramatic elements, language, perspectives, genre attribution) </li></ul><ul><li>Both concepts emphasize the “as-if”: people can immerse, pretend, dispense their disbelief </li></ul>
  3. 3. Alternate Reality Games and the Blurring of Reality and Fiction <ul><li>ARGs deliberately attempt to blur the lines by their aesthetics of TINAG : This Is Not A Game. </li></ul><ul><li>Transmedia storytelling, multi-platform game, variety of technologies and game spaces: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>interaction with fictional characters and among players </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>online, via E-Mail, chat & mobile phones, in physical spaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tie-in of movies, books, websites... </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Alternate Reality Games and the Blurring of Reality and Fiction <ul><li>“ A pervasive game is a game that has one or more salient features that expand the contractual magic circle of play socially, spatially or temporally.” (Pervasive Games. Theory and Design. Montola, Stenros, Waern 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Alternate Reality Games attempt all three dimensions of temporal, spatial and social pervasion. </li></ul><ul><li>ARGs attempt to create a 360 º illusion where there is no outside (seamless). </li></ul>
  5. 5. Research questions <ul><li>Interpretation of players along the lines of reality and fiction </li></ul><ul><li>ARG design: how to successfully implement the reality-fiction blurring? </li></ul><ul><li>How could this ARG analysis be useful for understanding similar developments in media culture? -> Real Virtuality </li></ul>
  6. 6. Player Interpretation <ul><li>Need for distinction between fictional/fabricated and non-fictional/”real” content – how to? </li></ul><ul><li>Despite the TINAG and attempt of 360 º illusion, an ARG is still a game, constructs a space of “as if” and is at least partly fabricated, even if it does incorporate elements of “reality”. </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation by detecting and discussing sign posts that point towards a game. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Fictional markers <ul><li>Semantic : content is improbable, impossible or unreal </li></ul><ul><li>Formal : aesthetic principles of composition (Webpage Design), style (messages from fictional characters), orchestration (events in physical spaces) </li></ul><ul><li>Para-textual : genre conventions: codes (page source, anagrams), mentioning of PM, disclaimers like TINAG tag, link to wikipedia article on ARG on websites... </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of individual knowledge and media/game literacy for successful interpretation </li></ul>
  8. 8. Fictional and reality markers: Game Design <ul><li>Fine line between a marker being too obvious (possible immersion obstacle) or not perceptible </li></ul><ul><li>There will always be someone who doesn´t get (part of) it (Example: Krobler Fone). Not possible to prevent, but how to react? </li></ul><ul><li>Viral distribution: you can even mark one piece of content but it can be ripped out of context and be distributed all over the internet -> cannot be avoided! Be careful with using ambiguous material. </li></ul><ul><li>Different production and staging contexts (corporate, institutional or grassroot-games // advertising, education or entertainment) need different kinds and modes of fictional markers, in respect to legal and ethical matters. </li></ul>
  9. 9. In Game vs. Out Of Game <ul><li>Distinction between what´s part of the game (IG) and what´s not part of the game (OOG) </li></ul><ul><li>Transformations: former OOG elements can be turned IG as well </li></ul><ul><li>Indicators: unclear, procedural, temporal </li></ul><ul><li>Example: “Charlotte is becoming real” (fone call) </li></ul>
  10. 10. IG vs. OOG: Game Design <ul><li>Either you use clear fictional markers or: </li></ul><ul><li>Leave it ontologically uncertain but give an In Game feedback after a certain amount of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Problematic: how long to wait to confirm IG or lead players back when they drift into OOG? </li></ul><ul><li>Confirmation possibly in a intradiegetic way, IG, not to break the 360 º illusion. </li></ul>
  11. 11. ARGs as multi-user games / participatory dramas <ul><li>The players play together and use their individual skills to contribute to riddles, character interaction, events in physical spaces etc. - “hive mind” </li></ul><ul><li>The same applies to reality-fiction-interpretation where ideally all knowledge on semantic, formal and paratextual markers comes together. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Krobler Fon (volunteer), Charlotte is becoming real: roadside grave </li></ul><ul><li>importance of peers </li></ul>
  12. 12. Participatory Community: Game Design <ul><li>Community Design: How to structure an ARG (knowledge) community, how to improve the player interaction, how to deal with experienced vs. new, more careful vs. experimental, strictly ARG vs. RPG-players </li></ul><ul><li>Design a meta-space, a safe zone (Example: unfiction ), if specific ARG forum: specify if IG or OOG. </li></ul><ul><li>Flat hierarchies, no secrecies among player (groups), open structures, incentives for sharing and posting, moderators. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Player Interpretation
  14. 14. Other media with reality-fiction-blurring <ul><li>Flash mobs </li></ul><ul><li>Reality TV shows </li></ul><ul><li>Street performances and street art </li></ul><ul><li>Nigeria letters </li></ul><ul><li>Mockumentaries </li></ul><ul><li>TV news </li></ul>
  15. 15. Spatial Pervasion <ul><li>Huizinga´s game concept: magic circle which is spatially defined </li></ul><ul><li>ARGs spatially pervade our ordinary life, may this be online or in physical spaces. </li></ul><ul><li>Distinctions on real/fabricated and IG/OOG are difficult to make, confusion at least for a certain amount of time </li></ul><ul><li>Very obvious in physical spaces where the game interface overlaps the RL interface. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Real Virtuality <ul><li>Example: Trip to Berlin in “Charlotte is becoming real ” </li></ul><ul><li>Real Virtuality: fully immersed experience, encompassing all senses, same interface as RL, being part of a fiction/game in the “real world” </li></ul><ul><li>Virtuality not confined/defined by being online or digital but having a much more real quality. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Real Virtuality: Inception App <ul><li>This app is a dream machine that transforms the world around you into a dreamworld. It uses augmented sound to induce dreams through the headset of your iPhone or iPod Touch. It will change your perception of reality. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Warning: Don't play this app with the touchscreen, play this app with your life.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. mp3-Experiment (ImprovEverywhere)
  19. 19. Thank you!
  20. 20. Semantic markers
  21. 21. TINAG
  22. 22. Unfiction: Trailhead Discussion
  23. 23. Krobler Fone
  24. 24. Charlotte is becoming real: Rabbit Hole
  25. 25. Dana King´s Blog
  26. 26. Charlotte is (becoming) real
  27. 27. Robot Speed Dating at ARG Festococon 2009
  28. 28. unfiction TOS: forum is “Out Of Game”