Author, media theorist, teacher, and winner of the first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Douglas Rushkoff is well-known for his insightful books and documentaries about how cultures, people, and institutions shape values in the digital age. Since his 1994 observational book Cyberia, Rushkoff has often been at the forefront of digital counterculture. His latest book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, provides clear, actionable ways to master technology before it masters us.
Recently, Rushkoff collaborated with games production company Smoking Gun Interactive to create an experimental alternate reality game (ARG) and graphic novel “proof of concept,” Exoriare. After chatting very briefly about ARGs at the eBook Summit last week in New York City, I thought our readers would enjoy a more focused e-mail interview with Rushkoff about his experience with Exoriare, ARGs, and play.
BoingBoing suggested it. The Guardian praised it. Jay is Games recommended it. And now, I’m adding my voice to the resounding chorus: if you like alternate reality games, you should check out Smoking Gun Interactive‘s new transmedia experience, Exoriare. While the experience has only recently launched, it has already drawn together successful elements from a wide array of alternate reality games to create a compelling narrative.
Smoking Gun Interactive introduced their world through a graphic novel created by Douglas Rushkoff and drawn by in-house artists Cheoljoo Lee and Younger Yang. Rushkoff notes that the graphic novel serves as both the trailhead of “at least” one alternate reality game and as a back story for an upcoming videogame series. As he explains, “[t]his is a big big universe – a giant war for the future of humanity, of course – with maybe one overall timeline but many different pathways through the material.” Smoking Gun CEO John Johnson told The Guardian that Exoriare‘s story involves “hundreds of pages of backstory documentation, mixes ancient technologies, military conspiracies and that old favourite, covert alien invasion…[i]t’s sort of X-Files meets Dan Brown, with a dash of academic research.” Sold? Head over to Exoriare.com and begin the adventure. Still not sure? Read on to find out what to expect.