This year will mark the 8th anniversary of ARGfest, and this year’s conference promises to be the most ambitious yet. The format has changed and expanded to include four days of information, networking and game-filled fun. The two day conference will take place on July 15th and 16th and will be filled with presentations, panels and roundtables galore. And in the spirit of the conference’s new “Think! Play! Do!” theme, a gaming festival has been added July 17th and 18th, where festival-goers will be able to participate in street games, location-based games, storytelling events and ARG live events.
The full conference schedule has not yet been released, but some of the announced panels include one involving casual social games and one made up of ARG enthusiasts. Presentations include Brooke Thompson’s “Can Transmedia Save the Soap Opera” and Patrick Möller’s “Follow the Rabbit”. The conference will also feature a return of the ARG Museum, a display of artifacts from past alternate reality games. In addition to the typical conference activities, this year’s ARGfest will include a writing workshop with Maureen McHugh of No Mimes Media, a mini game jam that will help participants create a working game prototype by the end of the weekend, and an organic panel session that will be shaped on the fly by the audience.
ARGfest 2010 will take place July 15th through the 18th at the W Atlanta-Midtown hotel. Multiple registration packages are available on the ARGfest website or at the door. Hotel reservations can be made on the website at the discounted group rate.
Editor’s Note: Tomorrow (June 27th) is the last day for ARGFest’s Regular Registration rates, so now is an ideal time to select the package that best reflects your interests.
A little birdie recently pointed me in the direction of a puzzle trail called Third Realm. The site has a labyrinth of puzzles and an apocalyptic countdown ending on November 2nd. The players’ goal is to free the Yellow King with the help of a self-proclaimed “Prophet in the Wild” through his twitter account, thirdrealm. The Prophet has been dropping cryptic clues, and there is a possible London deaddrop that has yet to be investigated.
If you’re in the mood to flex your puzzle solving muscles before the November 2nd apocalypse, head on over to the unfiction thread here.
Below is an interview that ARGNet’s own Michelle Senderhauf conducted with Tom Salamon, co-creator of Accomplice: New York, Accomplice: The Village, and Accomplice: Hollywood. You can find details on participating in Accomplice at AccomplicetheShow.com.
MS: What made you decide to do theatrical performances in the wild rather than in a traditional theatre setting?
TS: A lot of the inspiration came from just loving to people watch in NYC, and all the quirky, crazy people that you see on any given day. We thought that if we could figure out a way to develop characters that would blend into the woodwork of the various neighborhoods, and have a way that our actors could identify our audience but not vice-versa, we could create an effect that felt like the city was filled with extras in our little story. We were also watching a lot of the reality TV of the day, and were interested in the sociological aspects of it, and thought that we could emulate the feeling of being on one of those shows for our audience.
MS: Where did the idea for Accomplice come from?
TS: My sister (co-creator Betsy Salamon-Sufott) and I were on a walking tour throughout lower Manhattan a few years ago. While we were seeing all of these cool, out of the way spots, we found the tour guide boring, and thought that there might be a more exciting way to experience these locations. We thought we could design a program where people would get dropped into the middle of an adventure throughout the city. And while there were various gaming events that incorporated quick bits with actors, I don’t think anyone had really taken the time to structure a story and cast legit improv actors, and give them room to breathe and be funny and engaging, and have a narrative unfold that the audience would be in the middle of.
MS: After signing up for an Accomplice performance, what should the customer expect? Do you have any suggestions on how to get the most from the experience?
TS: Come to have fun and play along – the cast loves it when you participate. You’re not role playing, you’re just being yourself, so have fun with it and get involved. Also, a group of 10 is the best way to attend because you’re with all of your own people, but if you don’t have 10 it’s no problem – you’ll be paired with others – just work together!
This article is the second in a series on “secret tourism” spots: cities that provide immersive experiences to residents and tourists alike, as long as you know where and what to look for.
He’s played a genius child doctor and a likable womanizer. He’s hosted the Tony’s and will do the same for the Emmy Awards this year. He’s become an internet sing-along sensation as Dr. Horrible. Now, Neil Patrick Harris can add Puppetmaster to his list of credentials, as he is co-producing an ARG experience in California called Accomplice: Hollywood.
Accomplice: Hollywood is a third in a series of live theatrical experiences that send participants out into the city to find clues and interact with characters in public places. Harris describes it as, “[p]art walking tour, part murder mystery, part scavenger hunt”. After playing Accomplice: New York himself a few years ago, Harris collaborated with the original creators, Tom Salamon and Betsy Sufott, to bring the experience to the West Coast.
This third installment involves a missing starlet named Nikki Desmond. Participants purchase tickets in advance, but have no information other than the date and time of the event and a video, starring Harris himself, with some background information on Desmond. A few days before the event, participants will receive a phone call from a character with the meeting location and other details. When they arrive, they suddenly find themselves immersed in the world of Nikki Desmond. They help solve the mystery behind Desmond’s disappearance while exploring Hollywood.
The customer reviews for all three Accomplice experiences are outstanding, with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars. This definitely looks to be a fun experience for anyone living in Hollywood or New York. Tickets can be purchased through the Accomplice website.
Two of the players of the Charlotte is Becoming Real ARG are frantically packing their bags for a free, last-minute weekend trip to Berlin, Germany. Others are cursing the fact that they let their passport expire four years ago (ahem).
It all started a little over a month ago when several ARGers received scuffed up cassette recorders in the mail. On the microcassette inside each recorder was a portion of an interview with an author who is suffering from a curious condition. Her condition seems to be that everything she writes in her books comes true soon after. It didn’t take long for players to connect the tapes to the recently released book, Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek. The interviews were excerpts from the fictional book.
The Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum is hosting a ghostly scavenger hunt later this month as a part of the Ghosts of a Chance ARG. Attendees will participate in a series of code-breaking, puzzle-solving and ghost-hunting quests designed to help rid the museum of its “mischievous spirits”. The scavenger hunt will take place at the museum on October 25th from noon until 5pm. While exploring the museum, make sure to check out the Ghosts of a Chance art display which showcases art created by players for the ARG.
For those who can’t make it to Washington D.C. for the event, the ghosts of the Smithsonian still need your help! They would like players to work together to create a quilt code to be used during the scavenger hunt.