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  Limited Response To ‘Numb3rs’ ARG Episode?  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
An episode of the CBS TV show Numb3rs last week, which depicted a sort of Alternate Reality Game, has received fairly good reviews from a few key sources. Steve Peters (42 Entertainment) wrote that the episode was "great fun to watch," noting the game genre's mention in mainstream entertainment was a historic first. Raph Koster (Areae) grumbled that the game portrayed in the show looked more intriguing than real ones, but conceded that the show writers "got surprisingly more right than [...] wrong." The genre's top news source, ARGNet, reported that the show received "generally positive reactions" and pointed out that an actual (non-televised) ARG seems to have been launched in support of Numb3rs and the CBS suite of web sites.

Aside from a handful gaming insiders and TV sites, my impression (based on a cursory web search today) is that the Numb3rs ARG episode doesn't seem to have generated widespread discussion. Perhaps this will begin to change, given ARGNet's discovery that an ARG-like game in support of the show is unfolding. CBS has been creeping into cross-media territory lately, investing in metaverse developers The Electric Sheep Company last February, and producing a recent episode of CSI:NY crossing over into the virtual world Second Life. The success of that crossover seems tame at best--with the show's presence in Second Life trimmed down by a reported 93% barely a week after launch.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-11-03  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  What’s ‘Fair Game’ In Alternate Reality?  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-01 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The 40th episode of the ARG Netcast features a great discussion about what constitutes "fair game" in Alternate Reality Game play based on what players are willing and able to do versus what the puppetmasters have planned. In my opinion as a contributing designer/writer to such games, the "this is not a game" conceit which largely defined the genre early on is a double-edged sword.

If, as a puppetmaster, you decide that "this is not a game," you had better ensure your not-game is sealed airtight against the deep digging some players are willing to do. Such digging (discussed in the netcast) includes brute-force password hacking, intensive sleuthing for the real-life people (game makers, actors) behind the scenes, or decompiling Flash executable files to search for revealing clues.

In my opinion, if you're making a not-game, you have to accept that this means there are no rules. I think players are entitled to use whatever means necessary to dissect a not-game for clues, provided they obey social contracts and actual laws. Like supervillains, puppetmasters often overestimate the sanctity of their secret plans due to conceit: Surely they're more clever than the heroes. And we all know how that turns out.

Continue reading: What’s ‘Fair Game’ In Alternate Reality?
 
     
 
   
 
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  Canadian/Portugese Firms Co-Produce International ARG  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A new serialized, video-based Alternate Reality Game called The GOT will be launched in January 2008 jointly by Canada's The Nightingale Company (film and TV producers) and Portugal's beActive (known in Europe for its work on Sofia's Diary). According to The Nightingale Company, the series will follow a young woman who turns to the web when she becomes convinced the planet is in "grave danger."

According to Nightingale, game play will be aimed at mainstream audiences, and will involve "'against-the clock' international competition" as well as hallmarks of ARG play such as online collaboration, in-character interaction, and clue-hunting. Judging by the info in Nightengale's news release, we'll be able to watch the video component of the game from two angles simultaneously. Hopefully this will be a feature and not a gimmick (it's hyped more like the latter than the former).

Fortunately, at least one of the Nightingale team has previous puppetmastering experience: Adam Clare, the firm's Online Properties Strategist, was one of the co-founders of TorGame, a successful urban ARG adventure launched in 2006.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-10-17  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Guy Parsons On Rock’n’Roll Storytelling  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Former Perplex City ops-team member Guy Parsons has posted a web version of a recent presentation entitled "Text, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll," wherein he engagingly argues that stories can become more participatory by injecting rock'n'roll--loosely defined in the context of his presentation as "jumping off the author's stage and diving headlong into the crowd..." -- a crowd Parsons knows (as do others in the ARG, live-game, and participatory fiction space) from first-hand experience is capable of "waiting to catch you with open arms" and co-authoring the experience.

I'd like to see more rock'n'roll in more forms of media, but I don't think that sort of mashup is necessarily a superior form of culture. I'm a bit tired of futurists telling us how one-way media is "dead," but I think Parson's barking up the right tree in explaining why participatory culture is an attractive and satisfying option for engaging contemporary audiences.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-09-28  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-09-26  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Embrace the Chaos  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-24 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Brooke Thompson sent in a heads-up on Embrace the Chaos, a 1-day seminar by the intrepid "Unfiction" Alternate Reality Game player community intended to get marketers up to speed on this constantly-evolving game genre. The result will hopefully be better commercial ARGs. According to Brooke, proceeds from the event will support Unfiction (a fantastic player and developer resource) and ARGfest, an annual ARG meetup.

Topics to be covered at Embrace the Chaos include:
  • Alternate Reality Game 101: what they are, who plays them, why to use them in marketing
  • Design for Marketing media
  • Design for Marketing Products
  • Metrics: How to measure results
  • Risk: How to manage
  • One minute case studies submitted to the experts from the audience
Get informed on November 2, 8:30am (bleh!) to 5pm at the Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall in NYC. No doubt the best discussions will be over booze after 5pm. Wish I could be there.
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-09-24  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-24 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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