Editor’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.
Last night, players and Puppetmasters got together in an entertaining chat over at #lastcall. Put together by ARGN and UnFiction, the creative team at 42 Entertainment were invited to the IRC chat room where much of the hot gameplay action took place during the eight week run of the popular ARG. Many people showed up and a lot of interesting questions and answers flew about — and if you weren’t in attendance, we have the transcript of the chat available. (We have cleaned up and organized the transcript to make it easier to read and follow).
To read the log, click on the “Continue Reading” link below.
As many faithful readers of ARGN know, the game to play this fall was Last Call Poker, a promotion for Activision’s GUN. Created by 4orty2wo Entertainment, the innovative game provided players with 9 weeks of exciting storytelling and game play, both on- and off-line. The story was the final wish of Lionel “Lucky” Brown, a fictional character who passed away earlier this year, and a portion of his estate was used to celebrate his life with wakes held at six of his favorite cemeteries throughout the United Sates. The final wake was held on November 19th at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Dozens of players from throughout the United States and Canada came together to celebrate his life and play one last round of poker… Tombstone style.
A reminder to all interested parties that the post-game Puppetmaster chat for Last Call Poker is happening tonight at 7:00 pm PST. As we announced last week, the chat will be happening in the #lastcall chat room on the Chat-Solutions network.
The members of 42 Entertainment that are scheduled to be in attendance are:
- Elan Lee: Lead Design
- Sean Stewart: Lead Writer
- Maureen McHugh: Writer
- Steve Peters: Design
- Patricia Pizer: Design
- Jane McGonigal: Live Events Lead
- Jim Stewartson: Technical Lead
We will see you in #lastcall tonight — it’s going to be a full house of fun!
This weekend marked the end of the highly successful Last Call Poker ARG, which culminated in a large real-world event taking place in Hollywood, California. ARGN, along with UnFiction, are pleased to announce that the LCP Puppetmaster team from 42 Entertainment will be stopping by for a live post-game chat on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 7:00 PM PST (10:00 pm EST, 03:00 GMT) on the Chat-Solutions IRC network.
The moderated chat will be taking place in the #lastcall chat room. Attendees will only be able to speak when asking questions. If you have a question and cannot attend the event, please feel free to post your question to the UnFiction forums or email it to ARGN using our Contact page.
This past weekend, Last Call Poker hit Washington D.C. with a live game of Tombstone Hold ‘Em. A crowd of 25 took part at the event, which included a poker tournament and a small favor for Lucky Brown, creator of Last Call Poker.
The games took place at Historic Congressional Cemetery near RFK Stadium in D.C. where participants were greeted by a pointy, fuzzy-headed girl acting as the liaison for Lucky and drizzly rain. There, they were given chips for the tournament, instructions for tournament play, and the opportunity to peruse the historical section of the cemetery to be used during the game. Players met at the chapel in the center and were introduced to the cemetery and its history by the Chairman of the Board. Among the more flavorful members of the cemetery are John Phillip Sousa, J. Edgar Hoover, and some early members of Congress. Following the introduction, the tournament began and “tables” of 4 to 5 pairings were sent off to duke it out in Hold ‘Em. Winners of the tournament include UnFiction members LouMac, Cortana, and Rowan.