Tag: Cathy’s Book (Page 1 of 2)

Cathy’s Book App Contest: Win an iPod Touch

cathysbookappOn September 12, 2006, authors Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman released Cathy’s Book, an experiment in transmedia publishing, under the Running Press imprint. The book and its accompanying evidence packet provided a window into the life of Cathy Vickers, a fashion-conscious teenage girl with a penchant for daydreaming and doodling. Readers could follow a series of clues contained within the novel to birth certificates, news clippings, telephone numbers, and websites. Cathy’s Book was a New York Times Best Seller. The subsequent books in the trilogy, Cathy’s Key and Cathy’s Ring, wrapped up Cathy’s story.

Last month, the Cathy trilogy was re-released as an iPhone app, at $0.99 per novel. The app integrates the interactivity of the original novels, and adds animations throughout the story that make the illustrations liberally peppered throughout the book come alive. To celebrate the app’s launch, Running Press Books is giving ARGNet readers the chance to win an iPod Touch and iTunes gift cards. To enter, follow the instructions below.
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Interview with Cathy’s Book Co-Author Sean Stewart

Below is an interview that Michael Andersen conducted with Sean Stewart regarding the release of the Cathy’s Book app for the iPhone.  In addition to co-authoring the transmedia storytelling experiment Cathy’s Book, Stewart worked on ARGs including The Beast, i love bees, Last Call Poker and Year Zero.

MA: How did you and Jordan come up with the idea for Cathy’s Book?

SS: It was Jordan’s idea (things often are).  After the Beast we were talking about how fun it was, but how frustrating it was, too, that it was over: even if someone heard about how cool it was, they couldn’t DO it.  “Hey!  You’re a book guy,” Jordan said.  “We should do a book using the same kind of techniques!”

So we did.

We came up with the broad outlines of the story together.  We figured YA was a good place to start, and, to be honest, having written a fair number of somewhat dark sf/f novels, I wanted to write a book I thought my teenage daughters might like.  (They have a cameo in the first novel which Sharp Eyed Readers may spot…)

MA: How would you compare the writing process you used for Cathy’s Book, as opposed to what you used for traditional novels like Perfect Circle or full-blown ARGs like The Beast?

SS: We determined that the thing HAD to work as a book, first and foremost; if you never did any of the ancillary material, you still had to have an enjoyable, satisfying experience.  So I wrote Cathy’s story, if you will, much as I would a regular book.

We used the extra material to fill out the life of Cathy’s love-interest, Victor.  Readers looking through the extra evidence can eventually work out almost every detail of the Many Lives of Victor, from gold camp ragamuffin to WWI flying ace to mobster, and so forth.

Trying to fit together the various pieces of evidence was much more like the storytelling method of The Beast.  Over time, we also changed how we did that.  Cathy’s Book, like the Beast, has a ton of little pieces of stuff for players to link together.  In Cathy’s Key and Cathy’s Ring we moved increasingly to building “interactive arcs,” so that a reader might, for instance, send an email and go through a 3 or 4-step investigation to arrive at a satisfying endpoint.
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Report from Austin Game Developers’ Conference 2008: In ARGs We Trust

magnets.JPGEditor’s note: Brandie was ARGNet’s press presence at this year’s Austin Game Developers Conference. This is the first in a series on her experiences at the conference.

At the Austin GDC‘s only session devoted exclusively to Alternate Reality Games, Elan Lee of Fourth Wall Studios shared his thoughts on trust between ARG designers and players along with anecdotes from some of the most well-known cross-media experiences like AI and I Love Bees. In an interactive, real-time game-story experience, the level of trust between the designers (Puppet Masters, if you will) and the players can have a profound effect on the outcome of the game and the memories the players carry away at the end. “ARGs: Fake Websites, Invented Stories, Automated Phone Calls, and Other Methods to Earn the Trust of a Community” examined the building of trust as an integral part of the game-story experience.

Elan Lee opened the session with a look back at “The Beast” the promotional experience designed for the movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Steven Spielberg came to Microsoft and said he wanted to do something promotional that would familiarize his audience with the A.I. world before the movie opened. What evolved from this was a series of websites, puzzles, and events that attracted thousands of dedicated players – who, incidentally, solved several weeks worth of content in a matter of hours. The designers had to scramble to keep adding content, altering the storyline as needed, and even responding to their audience by taking an initially unimportant but player-beloved character (The Red King) and promoting him to the character A-List.

After “The Beast” ended, Elan was surprised to receive three wedding invitations from players who had been deeply affected by their experience with the game. He realized, he said, that something magical was happening, when an audience felt close enough to a total stranger to invite him to participate in their real-life celebrations. “The Beast” and its designers had evoked a trust that transcended the anonymity of the internet and crossed over into the real world. What builds this intense sense of trust? According to Elan, one of the keys to trust is… a magnet.

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ARG Netcast, Episode 3

netcast.jpgIt’s already Episode 3 of the ARG Netcast series. Once again, this week offers the comedy stylings of unfiction’s Sean C. Stacey, the politically-charged folk songs of Giant Mice’s Brooke Thompson, and the gospel hip hop of M.C. Jonathan Waite of ARGNet. Subscribe to the ARGNet feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News and Topics of Discussion

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ARG Netcast, Episode 2

netcast.jpgEpisode 2 of the ARG Netcast features Sean C. Stacey of unfiction, Brooke Thompson of Giant Mice and Jonathan Waite of ARGNet. You can now find the netcast on iTunes, by the way — search for ARGNet and subscribe!

Game News and Topics of Discussion

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ARG Netcast, Episode 1

Editor’s note: While we are still figuring out the logistical nature of netcasting, you can subscribe to the netcast by saving/dragging this link into your podcast/netcast program, including iTunes.

netcast.jpgWe’re happy to introduce the first in what will be a continuing series of netcasts featuring ARGNet staff and special guests. The ARG Netcast will be a weekly (we hope) look into the world of alternate reality gaming, in audio format. Episode 1 is up and features Brooke Thompson, Sean C. Stacey and myself talking about a number of different topics:

We dish on the games in our What’s Hot List!

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