Tag: Austin (page 1 of 2)

“Stop The International” Returns With A Bang – And Lots Of Cash

IBBC.JPGStop The International, the promotional ARG for the Clive Owen movie The International, first debuted in November 2008 when live events were held in several locations around the world, including Berlin, Los Angeles, New York City, and London. During these events, players were given clues to “evidence caches” containing money and documents which could be used to prove The International Bank of Business and Credit’s shady dealings. The game lasted four weeks… and then seemingly went dead.

On January 14th, the site went live again – and in a big way! In the four weeks since the first part of the game concluded, the main character, Inspector Salinger (Clive Owen) was dismissed from Scotland Yard after his main informant was killed in a suspicious car crash. However, he is continuing his pursuit of the International as an Agent with Interpol and with the help of a Manhattan prosecutor named Eleanor Whitman, along with the help of a new informant from within The International – and YOU! Salinger’s new informant is stashing more evidence caches around the United States and Europe in over 60 different dead-drop sites over the course of the next three weeks, and he needs our help in retrieving all the evidence caches so they can be submitted as evidence to Interpol, and bring down The International once and for all!

The first drop sites in the list went live on January 15th in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego. As each city’s countdown expired, a clue to the location of the cache, a number code, and GPS coordinates were revealed. Players in each of the cities rushed to the sites, and upon arriving, discovered a lockbox with a combination lock which could be opened using the provided number code. Packed inside the lockbox compartments was money of many different countries — US, Australian, and Hong Kong dollars, Mexican pesos, Russian rubles — and the money was REAL. The map page displaying the dead-drop sites then updated, indicating that the cache was successfully picked up and evidence forwarded to Interpol. As an added bonus, players could enter the serial numbers of the retrieved money and see the trail the money had followed – crime lords, criminal organizations, money launderers (however, apparently *any* serial number from any form of currency will work as well). All drop sites that went live yesterday were successfully found, with the sole exception of the first in New York City, more than likely due to players not realizing what exactly they were looking for.

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Eldtrich Errors: Live Events Come in Threes for Book Three

redmoonrising.jpgAs we reported a few days ago, Book Three of Eldritch Errors has officially launched. The ARG has started off with plans for three nearly concurrent live events in Sacramento, New York City and Austin. Several players had a clandestine meeting with an in-game contact last night at the first event in Sacramento. The remaining two events are scheduled to happen tonight at 8pm.

Check out the Sentry Outpost or Unfiction to follow the action!

The Brooke Thompson 2007 Conference Tour, Part One

Editor’s note: Brooke Thompson is back after a whirlwind tour of some of the biggest festivals so far this year. She attended the Game Developer’s Conference and was a speaker at the South By Southwest (SXSW) and ARGFest-o-Con conferences. This article is the first in a series about her experiences.

GDC.jpgWhat happens when you spend 15 days on the road traveling from conference to conference? You get just about nothing done, including writing reports from the road for one of the greatest websites on the internet (that’d be ARGNet, of course). At first this distressed me, but then I realized that most of the conference sessions that I had attended were well documented on blogs and news sites – some nearly word for word! – and that waiting allowed the experiences that I had to sink in and meld together into a bigger picture. It’s that picture that I hope to paint for you over the next few articles.

The thing that I realized as I traveled from ARGfest to GDC to SXSW is that Alternate Reality Gaming is leading the future of entertainment.

We’ve been saying that for a long time. So, what’s different? What’s changed?

The word is out. People hear “Alternate Reality Game” or “ARG” and they understand what you are talking about. I don’t mean to say that everyone that I met understood it, but if I walked into a crowd at least one or two people did and they were able to get the rest of the crowd excited and curious. And explaining it to those that have never heard of ARGs is easier today than it’s ever been. People might not know that Lonelygirl15 has an alternate reality game component, but they’ve heard of it and when you talk about how the story is out there and it’s fiction outside of a book or TV show and, in fact, might send you an email or call you on the phone – they get it. It doesn’t seem strange, it seems cool.

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The 2007 ScreenBurn Festival

We are happy to announce that ARGNet is an official media sponsor of the 2007 ScreenBurn festival, taking place at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival this weekend in Austin, Texas. The ScreenBurn festival is an initiative dedicated to providing programming about the newest developments in the gaming community, and we are honored that the festival’s coordinators are recognizing alternate reality gaming as an important piece of the gaming landscape. The festival will run from March 9th through the 13th, and will feature panelists many ARG fans are already familiar with. Brian Clark from GMD Studios and Tony Walsh from secretlair.com will be there, as well as Evan Jones from Stitch Media and Dan Hon from Mind Candy Design. We are fortunate to have representation at the festival as well, as staff writer Brooke Thompson (representing giantmice.com) will be talking on the panel entitled, “ARG! The Attack of The Alternate Reality Games,” which will be moderated by Alice Taylor of the Wonderland blog.

For those looking for a more robust experience (you know, the kind that goes beyond the realm of ARG), you’ll be happy to know that, according to the ScreenBurn website, “panels cover topics such as blogging, business models, content creation, digital convergence, e-learning, entrepreneurism, open source, ubiquitous computing, web design, web hacks and web standards.” With such a depth of topics and panels, the festival should be one of the can’t-miss events of the year.

So, with all of those superstars in attendance, how do you get in on the festivities? Easy! You show up at the door of the Convention Center in Austin, and you pay your money to get in. For the sheer amount of panel discussion and events taking place this year, the $350 cost for the weekend is a bargain. So, if you want in on one of the greatest cutting-edge festivals of the year, get down to Austin and get in to SXSW Interactive. Oh, and if you see Brian, Evan, Dan, Tony or Brooke, say hi for us.

Austin Game Conference Part 2

Thursday was the official kick-off of the Austin Game Conference, a trade show primarily directed at companies who produce Massively Multiplayer Online games, or MMOs. This morning, Jane McGonigal from 42 Entertainment gave a talk in which she outlined what ARGs are, how they are a type of MMO, and why they are so interesting.

And the best part, other than the Massively Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling? The unofficial nickname for the talk: “Too Weird for GDC”.

Jane began the session with some explanations of what ARGs are. They are interactive narrative, or immersive drama. They are played out online and in the real world, taking place over several weeks or months. Tens, hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands of people play, forming collaborative social networks and working together to solve a mystery or problem which is impossible to solve alone. Platforms utilized include e-mail, websites, SMS, phone calls, radio, IRC, instant messages, newspapers, real world artifacts and events, and Elan’s dream: toasters that print messages on your bread. Since this is the second time in two days that a 42 staffer has mentioned toaster messages, extra vigilance is recommended when cooking your breakfast. Be prepared.

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Austin Game Conference

Today saw the opening of the Game Writers Conference, a subset of the Austin Game Conference which opens tomorrow. Of particular interest to ARGers was the discussion by Maureen McHugh from 42 Entertainment about the work that went into The Beast and I Love Bees.

Maureen was contacted in 2004 to write for I Love Bees. She has a background in teaching English and writing science fiction. She made some interesting points about the emergence of varying types of entertainment being dependent upon what technology is available. As the printing press made novels possible, so has the internet made Alternate Reality Gaming possible. Additionally, she spoke about the emergence of the novel in comparison with the different ARGs we’ve seen so far. In the beginning were fake memoirs – Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders – which were originally published as actual diaries rather than a made-up story. From there, novels moved to an epistolary form (such as Clarissa) where the reader eavesdropped on conversations between strangers. She compared this with The Beast, where the players dropped in on writings which were originally intended for other in-game characters. Next in history, the novel moved into an art form with an omniscient narrator, such as Tom Jones. Could this be where ARGs are headed?

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