As Elan Lee took to the stage to accept the 2005 Innovation Award for I Love Bees at the Game Developers Choice Awards on Wednesday night, Alternate Reality Gaming stepped off of the sidelines and into the spotlight. Lee, on behalf of his team at 4orty2wo Entertainment, thanked the players, and made a special point of thanking Microsoft and Bungie for showing trust in their vision of producing an Alternate Reality Game that would promote the release of Halo 2. I Love Bees was one of three games presented with the Innovation Award this year, the other recipients being Katamari Damacy and Donkey Konga. During the presentation, a video teaser featuring various ILB website pages, photos of crewmemebers and soundbites from some of the live calls highlighted what a unique form of entertainment I Love Bees truly was.
The games that win the Innovation Award usually cause quite a stir at the Game Developers Conference, and this was no exception. There was definitely a resultant buzz going on the following day, with many attendees talking about what I Love Bees, Alternate Reality Gaming and Pervasive Games in general are all about. These questions were answered when I Love Bees was featured in a session on Experimental Gaming on Thursday, led by ILB Puppetmaster Jane McGonigal. Jane was able to talk at length about what I Love Bees entailed, and what the concept of Alternate Reality Gaming is, giving specifics about gameplay, community aspects, and the “This is Not a Game” philosophy. Jane is also one of the forces behind the current I Love Bees exhibit at UC Berkeley.
The Innovation Award and subsequent Experimental Gameplay presentation definitely got people’s attention, with many developers expressing deep interest in jumping on the ARG bandwagon. However, the folks at 4orty2wo Entertainment were tight-lipped about what projects they may be currently working on, for obvious reasons.