Author: Jessica Price (page 1 of 5)

Calling All Aspiring Game Designers!

biggame.JPGHave you ever had a really cool idea for a game, but despaired of finding enough funding to realize your dream?

If so, Canada’s BIG Games Design Competition may provide you with the opportunity you need to break into design. The Aitken Leadership Group are sponsoring a contest calling for the creation of games that include real-world interaction and take place in real time. Pitch your design to a panel of judges on October 13 October 5, 2007 [Ed. note: the judging date has changed], and if they pick your game, you’ll receive $5, 000.00 to create it, as well as “truly enviable notoriety.”

The rules from the site are as follows:

1) the game must be fun
2) the game must be playable by pretty much anyone: young, old, straight, gay, transgendered, street-engaged, married, people living with disabilities, people living in yaletown, people who play World of Warcraft, etc.
3) the gameplay requires real-world interaction between people (such as online interaction, personal ads, phone-tag, postcards, flashmobs, etc.)
4) Players’ social networks are expanded to include people who are “different” from themselves

Email Brian Smith ([email protected]) for more information. We couldn’t find anything on the site saying you had to be a Canadian resident to compete, but you will have to present your pitch in Vancouver.

(Bear in mind that if you win this contest after learning about it here, ARGNet will expect repayment for the tip in the form of an exclusive interview. You were warned.)

Emmy Gets Interactive

emmy.JPG This year’s Emmy Awards have a category for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television, and regular observers of and participants in the world of alternate reality gaming may see quite a few familiar names in the candidate lineup. Check out the ITVT Blog’s exclusive on the awards for lots of interesting information.

Nominees include:

  • Heroes Interactive (NBC Universal)
  • DirecTV Interactive Sports
  • The Jericho Experience (CBS)
  • The Fallen Alternative Reality Game (Xenophile Media & Double Twenty Productions)
  • Big Brother Goes Mobile (CBS)

ARGNet Editor Jonathan Waite was behind the curtain on Fallen‘s Ocular Effect game, which has already picked up a few other awards, including a SXSW Interactive Award and a Banff World TV Festival Awards. Unfiction players also participated in the Jericho Experience and Heroes Interactive. ARGs are represented on the judging panel as well, which includes 42 Entertainment President & CEO Joe DiNunzio.

Regardless of which nominee wins, we’re happy to see chaotic fiction/alternate reality games/television extended experiences — or however you’d like to classify these works — getting mainstream recognition for their excellence, and offer all of them our congratulations. Here’s hoping the competition gets even fiercer in future years.

Jigsaw Made of Fool’s Gold?

watched.jpgAs a denizen of LiveJournal, I could hardly fail to notice the massive popularity of internet quizzes, so allow me to try to create one of my own, which I feel will be particularly applicable to the wise and wonderful web wanderers who comprise our audience:

In your wanderings, you encounter an example of such breathtakingly futile resistance to the way the internet works (no, I’m not talking about the RIAA) that it is as if you have stumbled upon some rare exotic creature thrown upon an inhospitable foreign shore by an uncaring digital sea. Do you:

A. Pull out your notebook and microscope and study this fascinating specimen. Far be it from you to interfere with nature taking its course, but there may be an opportunity here to reach greater understanding of some sort through observation.

B. Attempt to instruct the alien in the ways of the internet, so it can go on its way more equipped to survive out there in the jungle. The main purpose of the internet is to share knowledge, and to facilitate that, people have to help one another learn how best to navigate it.

C. Compassionately try to either protect it or to return it to more hospitable climes, even if the attempt is futile. Clearly it is not equipped to navigate the wilds of the internet, and the kindest thing to do is to encourage it to go home.

D. Set up a tent around it and charge admission to point and laugh. Maybe make it into a lolcat while you’re at it.

E. Stick a pin through that sucker and add it to your collection. PWNED!

F. Try to drive it away from the young/stupid/potentially innocent, in case it’s dangerous. It probably only looks helplessly ignorant. After all, Google and Wikipedia are free.

The rare beetle that caught my attention this week was the behavior of the puppetmaster(s) of the Golden Jigsaw puzzle contest. An Unfiction player named IRC1968, as well as Unfiction moderator and ARGNet staffer Michelle Senderhauf, had received notices that their accounts had been deleted. IRC1968 was told he’d been kicked out for posting answers. Upon inquiry, Michelle was told her account was deleted because it “was found to have a positive link with a website or website(s) that are being used, encouraged or moderated to infringe upon player rules and, despite prior warnings, continue to actively release private information concerning The Golden Jigsaw via a public forum on the internet, with the intent to damage the interests of the owners, developers, partners & players of the game.”

Upon further inquiry, Michelle got a response from Don Campbell explaining that her account had been deleted because while she hadn’t posted any answers, as a moderator at Unfiction, she had failed to censor the information other players posted at UF. (Her account was later reinstated, “with conditions.”)

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Having Conquered Cincinnati and California, John Turns Gaze To Internet

yost.JPG With an increasing number of television shows extending their worlds onto the web, it seems worthwhile to start asking for whom the extended experiences are intended. In the case of the online experience for John From Cincinnati, it appears that this is a bonus for people who are already fans of the show. While it seems unlikely to attract any new devotees, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, at least from a player point of view: it’s nice to think that maybe the makers of a show are appreciative enough of their fans to want to play with them outside the confines of the TV set.

In brief, John From Cincinnati is “surf noir” series from the maker of Deadwood, about a brittle family of surfing superstars and a strange young man who appears and turns their lives upside down.

Via Game Tip, ARGNet received word that HBO was doing something interesting with a promo site, Clicking repeatedly on the “Help” button generates an increasing number of search terms and objects floating around your screen until you’re told, “That’s all the help you’re going to get. There’s more out there. Start Searching.” However, the interface seems pretty intelligent — entering your own search terms nets results that usually seem on-target. There’s definitely something to put together, here, but I’m not conversant enough in the show’s mythology to have any idea what it is.

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Subject 137 and The Experiments Of Doom

I’m dying. I was falling asleep last night, and I knew. All I had to do was just let go, you know? …And that would be it. I’d wake up a f*cking corpse, and you’d be in trouble. So why don’t you just let me go? Why don’t you just let me get out of here before everyone gets in trouble?

The plea is made with weary resignation by Subject 137, a man who appears to be in his twenties and who, the video’s poster tells us, has been the subject of mysterious medical testing.

It’s an eerie and surprisingly affecting response to the assertion, delivered from offscreen in an electronically disguised voice, that Subject 137 is special, but that he’d get lost “out there” in the real world. Is this the idealism of a fanatic scientist? Propaganda from an organization with sinister plans? Or is Subject 137 actually special? It’s impossible to tell from this first video, but Subject 137’s bleak response is delivered in a way that makes him seem grounded and easy to identify with.

The viewer allegiances established by the introductory video (Subject 137 sympathetic! Voice-disguised man scary!) are destabilized, however, by the notes attached to it by Maria Ail:

I beg viewers to be careful when watching this clip since it’s view out of context of everything that comes before it. Think of this clip as a test.

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Be Good, Tanya, and You Might Just Discover Something Supernatural

13450703.jpgPity Tanya Mitchel: she’s just a nice girl with a LiveJournal, a job at a bank, and a wacky sister. The last of these happens to have disappeared, leaving a cipher-strewn trail and mysterious plea for her sister to save her by finding Dean Winchester (who appears to be the same Dean Winchester from CW’s Supernatural), and poor Tanya is utterly distraught about the whole thing. So, like any self-respecting character in an alternate reality game, she has turned to the wisdom of the internet to help her out.

A tip sent to Unfiction owner SpaceBass last Friday, containing a link to Tanya’s blog (Essentially Invisible), set players on the trail of what is beginning to look like a disjointed indulgence in ARG cliches. Between Tanya claiming that she found her own blog by accident and the appearance of ciphers with no plot-based justification for their placement, this looks likely to be the type of game that makes community veterans roll their eyes.

However, the game’s limited scope provides an easy opportunity for overview. During a discussion about the difficulty of finding regular coverage of the ARG world that is geared to people outside the community with game reviewer par excellence Chris Dahlen (one of the few journalists to tackle reviewing an ARG — Perplex City — in the context of mainstream gaming), Chris expressed a desire for regular sports-page-like coverage of running ARGs. He wanted to see an account of a game’s highs and lows that would be accessible to people who are internet literate but don’t regularly play ARGs.

I’m far too lazy to attempt such an ambitious project for a large-scale game, but Essentially Invisible provides an example of limited enough scope that I’m willing to give it a try. Please mentally read the following in your best sportscaster voice.

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