Last year, the University of Texas at Dallas’ Emerging Media and Communications program offered a practicum in ARG design taught by Deus City developer and UT-Dallas professor Adam Brackin. Over the course of the semester, the class developed and produced the Electron Innovations alternate reality game. This year, Brackin’s ARG practicum, affectionately referred to as “ARGlab 2.0,” is back with three new alternate reality games. According to Brackin, these three projects will reflect his Circular Model of ARG Development embracing parallel games, sequels and spin-offs within a shared “game world.”
While Electron Innovations was the product of a six-person team, ARGlab 2.0 is comprised of 20 students divided into four teams. Three of these teams are developing alternate reality games. The fourth team is documenting the creative process of the other groups, and will publish a “making of” documentary upon completion of the ARGs.
The three ARGlab 2.0 ARGs can be found at priestlyindustries.com, iknowwhathappened.wordpress.com, and sunshinebooks4less.com. Priestly Industries explores a contest to win $10 billion in venture capital from the wealthy and eccentric industrialist Gerard Priestly, while I Know What Happened follows novice geocacher Becka Belle as she tries to figure out the meaning of a mysterious box she discovered. Sunshine Books 4 Less, on the other hand, revolves around a series of strange, defaced posters scattered around downtown Dallas.
And while Brackin averred that Electron Innovations would not be returning as a direct product of ARGlab 2.0, characters and in-game assets from Electron Innovations have been slowly ramping up its activity with the introduction of yet another mysterious cube.
This experiment in interrelated stories provides an intriguing testbed for Brackin’s theory, along with a wealth of alternate reality gaming content for you, loyal reader. Moreover, the documentary has the potential to provide an almost unprecedented look at the development process for ARGs. So check out the following links, and see if anything catches your fancy.