Author: Celina Beach (page 2 of 6)

Take A Walk On The Wired Wild Side with “Bear 71”

A bear walks through the Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies and is ensnared in a trap where she is tranquilized, tagged, and collared with a GPS device. She has now become Bear 71, and joins a group of wired wildlife who document the interactions between nature and their increasingly encroaching human neighbors. Bear 71 is a new interactive project produced by the National Film Board of Canada’s digital studio, and includes an interactive web documentary site, a social media microsite, and a live installation piece that launched in conjunction with the Sundance Film Festival.

The main part of the project consists of an interactive web documentary created by NFB’s Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison, which introduces viewers to Bear 71 and then drops them into an interactive map of the Park, where they encounter other wired creatures that live in Bear 71’s home range: golden eagles, Big Horn sheep, wolves, and deer mice, all similarly tagged and under surveillance. The animals’ movements can be seen as they move about the park, and clicking on their markers reveals a video feed and information about the animal. Viewers can click on their own marker as well, which launches a group of surveillance feeds including their own (the site requests access to the viewer’s webcam and microphone, which can be denied) and any other viewers who happen to be browsing the site at the same time, tagged and tracked like the animals. Landmarks such as the freeway and railroad that run through the park can be seen, cars and trains moving on them as the animal’s markers cross back and forth, highlighting one of the project’s main points: when technology and the wild intersect, it is often to the detriment of the wildlife. There are also video feeds and observation points marked on the map, showing actual pictures and videos from their real-life counterparts in the Park.

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Engage In Some Covert Affairs, Twitter-Style


USA Network is running a “tweetcast” called Mission: Budapest to promote their show, Covert Affairs, where players are recruited as remote CIA operatives and tasked with assisting operatives on the ground in Budapest. Players can follow one or all of four CIA agents as they work the mission in Budapest by viewing photos, files, and videos uncovered by the agents. The lead character, Auggie Anderson, is also a main character on the TV series, and acts as the main conduit between users and the other agents. Auggie poses questions to the players about how the agents on the ground in Budapest should proceed, or poses questions they should ask of suspects or CIA “assets” (usually foreign civilians providing information to the CIA) in order to further the mission.

The tweetcast is not an entirely new idea: ABC’s Castle has run a “summer mystery” tweetcast during the hiatuses between seasons 1 and 2 through the @WriteRCastle twitter account . . . due to the “tragic events” in the Castle season 3 finale, there will be no Castle summer mystery tweetcast during the current hiatus. While players are more spectator than participant in these experiences, the content is entertaining and there is just enough interaction to give the players that warm fuzzy feeling when their suggestion or information is used and called out on Auggie’s twitter account.

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Transmedia Experts Tell the Story to NABShow Attendees

For the second year in a row, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show hosted a panel of transmedia luminaries to discuss the state of the industry. This year’s panel, Transmedia: Telling the Story through Narrative Content, Games and Real-World Adventures was hosted by Henry Jenkins (Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California, and author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide) and included Jeff Gomez (President and CEO, Starlight Runner Entertainment), Kim Moses (Executive Producer/Director, Sander/Moses Productions and Slam Internet), Gale Anne Hurd (Executive Producer, The Walking Dead; President, Valhalla Motion Pictures), Danny Bilson (Executive Vice President of Core Games, THQ, Inc.), and Tim Kring (Transmedia Storyteller, Conspiracy for Good, Heroes).

Jenkins started the panel with a definition of transmedia from his book as a starting point for discussion amongst the panelists:

Transmedia Storytelling represents a process by which narrative information is systematically dispersed across multiple media channels for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.

Jenkins asserted that the difference between transmedia and other methods is “that each element adds something vital to the mix as a whole” and “expand[s] the canvas on which storytellers work within the entertainment industry.”

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You Thought It Was Cold Now? Get Ready for The Big Chill

As yet another entry in the serious gaming genre, Ready For The Big Chill asks a “chilling” question: would you be ready in the event of a catastrophic event such as the eruption of a super-volcano or an asteroid impact that blocked the sun, throwing the world into a new Ice Age?

Several ARG and Unfiction community members received a dark and cryptic envelope with the words “Nobody Knows It Yet” stamped on the outside. Inside, an equally cryptic card adds, “…But It Has Already Started” one one side, printed on top of what appears to be a block of ice. On the other side, the silhouette of a screaming figure frames the url for a Facebook page, Facebook.com/ReadyforTheBigChill. The game’s Facebook page then leads to The Big Chill’s main site.

The presently unnamed group behind The Big Chill have formed an “idea-community” to generate survival ideas from the players through the help of an eclectic group of characters including vulcanologists, geologists, a video director, and a certified conspiracy theorist, who are all monitoring and reporting on world geologic events that could lead to such a catastrophe. Many of the characters have Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, blogs, YouTube channels, and other avenues of communication with players.

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A Glimpse Behind The Curtain with Cisco’s Game “The Hunt”

In mid-August, I had the opportunity to work with No Mimes Media, one of the major players in the ARG/Transmedia-creation world, co-founded by ARGNet founder Steve Peters.  My role: to “scrub” the websites and puzzles for an alternate reality game (commonly known as an ARG) – what I call “QA” in my day job, consisting of assorted tasks like verifying website content against design documents, and playtesting puzzles to make sure they can be solved as designed.  However, it also afforded me the opportunity to see how ARGs are designed and run – a glimpse behind the curtain, and into the inner workings of a development team (often referred to in the alternate reality gaming space as “Puppetmasters” or “PMs”).

Background

The Hunt is the second game by Juxt Interactive and No Mimes Media created for the Cisco Global Sales Experience (GSX), Cisco’s annual sales meeting.  For the second year in a row, Cisco has conducted this meeting virtually, using their own products such as Telepresence and WebEx to virtually gather their sales force together for training and information sharing. Including an alternate reality game enhanced the experience while providing education and experience using Cisco’s products by putting the sales force in the center of the action, using Cisco tools to help solve the mystery.  An important game mechanic involved players discovering “Key Asset Codes” which are entered into the game’s Hub for points, where the player with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.

This year’s experience centered around Isabel Travada, a Cisco System Engineer on a leave of absence to do volunteer work with the Red Cross. Upon returning home one day, she discovered that her apartment has been ransacked, and her father’s journal stolen.  Isabel’s father, Ferdinand, traveled the world as a cartographer before his death, and kept a journal of his adventures which he shared with Isabel when she was a child.  She was recently featured holding the book on the cover of a magazine that covered her father’s work on an important communications project in Africa, and someone who saw the article broke into her house to take it.  Curious about why anyone would want such a private journal, she went through his papers and realized there was more to his writings and drawings than she had noticed as a child.  Being very familiar with the book, she is able to recreate some of it from memory, but some portions like the pictures from the places Ferdinand visited are beyond her ability to recall.  However, as she pieces her memories together, she realizes the journal is filled with puzzles and clues, and calls upon her friends in the worldwide Cisco sales force to help her solve the puzzles, follow the clues, and send pictures to replace the ones lost.  As the players solved the puzzles and figured out the clues, Isabel found herself traveling the world with her father’s former colleague Keith, retracing her father’s steps and coming closer and closer to solving the mystery of the journal, and the man who stole it – and why.
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Comic-Con Recap: ComiTRON

In 2008, Disney came to Comic-Con with some early conceptual footage for a movie that, at that time, was called TR2N. It received such strong support and generated so much excitement from the Comic-Con crowd, Disney greenlighted the project. Flash forward to the 2009 Comic-Con, where Disney presented additional footage for the now-titled TRON: Legacy. Fans were also led on a merry chase through San Diego leading to a recreation of Flynn’s Arcade, where further information about the disappearance of Kevin Flynn was revealed.

Flash forward again to 2010, where the Flynn Lives alternate reality game ramped up through the release of online mini-games leading to live drops, movie screenings, digital badges, and real-life TRON artifacts. Meanwhile, buzz for the movie increased as Comic-Con approached and TRON banners and signs appeared around San Diego. The news media started referring to Comic-Con as ComiTRON, which generated even more excitement and anticipation from the ARG community following the Flynn Lives campaign as they started to wonder: would Flynn’s Arcade return?

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