Going to the Thames Festival in London this week? Got a bored teen or two on your hands? Bring them to the BBC’s Blast tour stop where they can register for a variety of workshops, including one on creating their own alternate reality game. The BBC tells us that “[t]he workshop is suitable for young people aged 16-19, and provides hands on guidance and tips for designing your own Alternate Reality Game. For more information and to book a place visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blast/208402.” The ARG workshop is on Friday, September 10 and runs from 1:45pm – 3:45pm.
Get ready for another exciting edition of Come Out and Play! This New York-based public games festival is gearing up for its 2010 edition, which will be headquartered at the Lyceum in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood June 4-6. The Festival has extended its deadline for submitting games to April 19th, so if you have an idea for a fun game, there’s still time to get involved. The Festival planners are working with game designers to refine their ideas and make sure they fit the location and scope of the event. Past games presented/debuted at COAP include Cruel 2B Kind by Jane McGonigal and Ian Bogost, as well as Jane’s Cryptozoo and the Lost Sport of Olympia, Ken Eklund’s Spy School, and TAH II, which was an extension of TAH, an alternate reality game produced by Cultural Oil.
I spoke recently with Greg Trefry, Festival Co-Founder and the author of “Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in ALL of Us,” to get some details on what to expect this year. Greg says there will be a mix of games requiring tech and not, and is very enthusiastic about location-based games that leverage tech like smartphones and apps for play. Festival sponsor SCVNGR, known for their smartphone based geo-gaming tech platform, will be presenting their own game, but CEO/Chief Ninja Seth Priebatsch was not forthcoming with details. “Well, I can’t tell you too much about what we’re going to be showing off (it’s some sweet new features) but in general it’s in the same vein as what SCVNGR’s all about; making building and playing location-based mobile games fun, quick and easy.”
Greg says that while no games have been officially accepted and announced yet, the popular “Circle Rules Football” from last year’s event will be returning, and he expects a great mix of games, including “weird new sports.” He would love to see submissions for ARGs and games that include ARG elements, as he feels location-based games and ARGs dovetail nicely by using the content of the real world and blurring the lines to enrich the experience of gameplay so you’re “not sure if you’re looking at the game any more.” The real world “is the highest resolution thing you’re gonna play,” he notes.
The new Sherlock Holmes movie comes out Christmas Day, but before then, fans of the Great Detective have a chance to try out their own sleuthing skills with a slick game promotion put out by AKQA and Hide & Seek in the UK, called 221B.
While I wouldn’t go as far as calling 221B an alternate reality game, it is very entertaining, when it actually works. The game is trying out new space by tethering itself to Facebook. To play, you can sign up as either Watson or Holmes and then invite a friend to play along in the other role. Some people have reported problems with the Facebook interface, but there is also an option to play the game by yourself, switching back and forth between the roles to get all the clues. There is also a special, free version of TweetDeck you can install which gives out hints for the weekly games and allows you to follow some of the characters from the movie.
After you sign up on the web site and link the game to your Facebook login, you can dive into the first chapter. Each story begins with a video of a character explaining what’s going on and what they need you to do. Materials are presented for you to click on and read–photographs, documents, etc. The best thing about this game are the graphics–each item is beautifully designed and rendered to look like an authentic 19th century artifact. After you examine each piece of evidence it’s added to your notebook and you can proceed to the next step. Each action you take in the game provides experience points which are available for use later in the game.
Fans of the The Beast alternate reality game will recall one the game’s themes was the question of sentient rights. Did artificial intelligences have the right to chart their own destiny? The vote was a resounding yes, and the freed robots took off, albeit with a rocket ship instead of a mule.
In today’s society, a robot with free will is looking for what all of us crave in some way–love. His human friend, Tim, jumped in to “help”, and Must Love Robots documents it all. 011iver is a robot with a steady job, and hobbies, (mildly NSFW) but he hasn’t yet found that special lady to make his life whole.
011iver is not wasting any time. He has expanded his dating horizons to include humans, and he has arranged to have a picnic with lucky bachelorette #1, Rowan, who will meet 011iver this Saturday at Prospect Park in Brooklyn (by the arch at Grand Army Plaza) at 2:00 p.m. for his first date. He’s a bit nervous, and has asked for advice. Don’t worry 011iver, Rowan won’t bite (unless you ask her to).
You can follow developments on the Unfiction thread, and follow 011iver, Tim and their friend Chuck on Twitter. Rowan has also started one of her excellent guides which should quickly catch you up with all the game play so far. Chatters can find the room #mbilf on chat-solutions.org.
Will the two young people hit it off? Or will the robot-human barrier prove too difficult to overcome? I’m rooting for a successful match-up! Who knows, one of these days we may see a little cyborg toddling around.
Announced today on the game’s meta blog, many of the folks behind Eldritch Errors will be on IRC tomorrow night starting at 9:00 pm EST to answer questions about the game and hopefully give us some ideas of what’s to come next.
With the recent completion of Book Three, this promises to be an entertaining and lively chat. You can join the fun either via your web browser with the ARGN java chat, or if you have an IRC client, the server is irc.chat-solutions.org, and the room is #stfeline.
It’s not every day I get sent blood money, but today’s FedEx delivery contained that and a whole lot more. Included in the packet marked “evidence” was a USB drive with files of bank transfers and a recorded message, along with a map to “evidence drops” and some photos (pictures after the break). The evidence comes from an informant in Berlin, where it was recovered.
It all points to stoptheinternational.com, which is a promo site for the new movie The International starring Clive Owen. Owen is Chief Inspector Louis Salinger, tasked with tracking down evidence against The International Bank of Business and Credit, a large bank which appears to be a front for money laundering and other illegal shenanigans.
Entering the serial number for the $2 bill in the packet shows a trail that leads to guns in Africa, then shows the bill’s current location. Urp. It’s a nice touch even if it’s easy to explain. Exploring further reveals another site, www.theibbc.com, for the bank being investigated. Beyond some boring photos and a hard to read typeface, there doesn’t seem to be much there.
However, stoptheinternational.com promises some continuing interaction via weekly updates and live events. The informant who hid the recovered packet of info has secreted other stashes in New York, Los Angeles, London and Berlin. Inspector Salinger is recruiting agents to help him find these stashes and analyze their contents. The first event is November 19th in Los Angeles. Check out the “Find the Evidence” link for the map, complete with countdown clock!
We’ll hope for field reports from the LA agents after the event. In the meantime, enjoy the copious documentation provided on the IBBC and its activities.