At the end of every year, I like to set aside some time to take stock of the alternate reality gaming space. Last year, I satisfied this rather unwholesome urge by making a list of some of the most talked-about alternate reality games of 2009: I even checked it twice. This year, I’ll be focusing on some emerging trends facing the industry, along with a few highlights from successful campaigns that you might have missed.
The State of the Industry
Alternate reality games aren’t dead, but they have certainly evolved over the past year, as terms like “transmedia storytelling” and “gamification” have insinuated their way further into the developmental lexicon. In April, the Producer’s Guild of America added the “transmedia producer” credit to their Code of Credits, swiftly followed by the formation of the rival Transmedia Artists Guild in July, which aims to provide a support structure for creators. Prominent figures in the entertainment industry including Anthony Zuiker, Tim Kring, and Guillermo del Toro have all publicly committed themselves to transmedia production. Meanwhile, Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk on gamification as a means of leveraging our penchant for play for social good has reignited interest in serious games.
Jay Bushman does an exemplary job of articulating the industry’s formative state in his article about his time as a Cloudmaker, a name affectionately adopted to describe players of the genre-defining alternate reality game for the film A.I.. Bushman notes that the state of the industry can be analogized to the film industry circa 1926, before the release of The Jazz Singer manifested the argument for talkies. As Bushman explains, The Jazz Singer “was not the first film with sound, but it was the first one to make its benefits obvious and to show that sound was the way forward.”
By Jessica Price and Jonathan Waite
As another year has come and gone, looking back at 2006 shows that it was a good year to be involved in alternate reality gaming. All in all, the year saw the genre receiving ever greater mainstream recognition, evolving in ways both anticipated and surprising, and adapting enthusiastically to an ever-increasing variety of platforms, media and participants. It also saw major changes here at ARGNet, as we rebranded ourselves, added some new staff members, and initiated the ARG Netcast. We were also proud to bring our readers coverage from SXSW and were ecstatic to be a network partner for PICNIC ’06. The ARG community continued to grow, as Unfiction hit 10,000 members and Immersion Unlimited went over the 1300 member mark. In addition to longer-running corporate games like Perplex City, Studio Cypher, and Edoc Laundry, there were a number of well-executed and enthusiastically-received large scale indie games. It seems like the year has gone quite quickly, but not without some major stories and exciting developments. So, without further ado, here are the highlights, events, games, and trends that caught our attention.