Tag: gmd studios (Page 1 of 2)

A Group of Friends, Mourning Brian Clark


“All art movements start with a small group of friends…when historians look back on this phase in art, the movement that we will be a part of, what they will marvel at is how interconnected we are.” Brian Clark was fascinated with the formation of movements and creating scenes, and was tireless in his efforts to foster a community of creators looking to find new ways of telling stories in the digital age. Yesterday, Brian passed away after a brief bout with cancer, leaving behind a community and industry he affected deeply.

As president of GMD Studios (originally Global Media Design), Clark helped construct the web realities for Nothing So Strange and Freakylinks, extending the narrative storytelling of film and television onto the internet. He continued exploring different ways of telling stories through his work on beloved alternate reality games like Sega’s Beta-7, Audi’s Art of the Heist, and Eldritch Errors. His projects delighted in stretching the boundaries of fictional worlds outside their comfort zones, asking players to do everything from “stealing” SD cards out of cars on display at events to joining characters at a Lovecraftian cabin in the woods.

Clark worked tirelessly behind the scenes to mentor new creators in the space, offering them help on everything from the craft of subversive storytelling to the realities of running a small business, including knowing what to charge for their work. He delighted in playing with other peoples’ creations and testing their limits, whether that meant donning a Ronald Reagan mask and dancing under his “Jihadi Jazzhands” persona, or creating a well-endowed, chain-smoking sock puppet named “She-Crab” for a game originally intended for children. He was an irrepressible prankster, leading to frequently outlandish conversations punctuated by his staccato laughter.

His impact was not limited to the alternate reality gaming and transmedia storytelling arenas: he was a founding member of Indiewire, helped create an online marketplace for brand journalism, worked on a documentary about the next generation of astronauts, has been accused on occassion of inventing the spambot, and found a creative use for LinkedIn’s “endorsements” functionality.

More than anything, he’s been the dynamo that vociferously argued for the people who knew him to resist complacency, pushing them to make things to see if they’d work, and to figure out what went wrong when they didn’t. People impacted by Clark have turned to Facebook to offer their condolences and share their memories of him by sharing “things I learned from Brian Clark”.

We’re going to miss you, Brian. You took your not-so-small group of friends, and fused them into something bigger through the generosity of your friendship and the sheer force of your personality.

ARGFest 2008 in Review: ARG International (Lost in Translation)

ARGNet Writers pose at ARGFest 2008This article is the fourth in a series, providing summaries of the panel presentations at ARGFest-o-Con 2008 in Boston

The third panel discussion featured Brian Clark of GMD Studios as moderator, Patrick Moeller (ARGReporter, vm-people GmbH), Alexander Serrano (vm-people GmbH), and Genevieve Cardin (Baroblik communication et multimedia). The panel discussed the blossoming ARG market in countries that have yet to enjoy the wonders of Fried Oreos.

The discussion started with a brief history of the alternate gaming market in Germany, from its humble beginnings as a student project about the World Cup to the present day, with three grassroots projects running concurrently, and commercial ARGs both international and domestic targeting the country. Cardin noted her experiences entering a market she didn’t even know existed through her multi-lingual games.

Often, the developers noted, the decision to go International is more of a matter of budget than that of language barrier concerns. The panelists noted a few differences in play styles. For instance, the media involved for projects with target audiences with limited access to flat-rate internet service plans need to be adjusted accordingly. Additionally, the popularity of devices with GPS capabilities has led to the popularity of geo-caching in Germany.

Creating international ARGs as opposed to region-based games may present its own difficulties. A member of the audience noted that creating games spanning more than one language requires highly skilled translators, since they must create adaptations of the game that take into account its subtle nuances. Furthermore, navigating the international legal quagmires may mean a significant amount of time is spent talking with lawyers. The challenge of finding people in other locations also becomes grander on the global stage.

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ARGFest 2008 in Review: Serious and Independent Games (Move Over, MoveOn)

ARGNet Writers pose at ARGFest 2008

This article is the second in a series, providing summaries of the panel presentations at ARGFest-o-Con 2008 in Boston.

The second panel discussion featured Ken Eklund of World Without Oil as moderator, Brian Clark (GMD Studios), Alice Leung (BBN Technologies), and Dave Szulborski. The panel discussed a little of everything, from projects born from passion to penny-pinching PMs and politics.

Dave Szulborski noted that independent games are the mainstay of the genre, and kept it alive when marketing executives were questioning its effectiveness. He noted that successful games of any type tend to inspire new developers to try their hand in development. Independent ARGs also encourage developers to innovate in new and surprising ways. As Brian Clark noted, “the riskiest things we do are those we do for ourselves,” and grassroots games are the ideal testing grounds for aspiring developers, as long as the project doesn’t serve as a resume of technical development skills that avoids the critical “fun” factor necessary for independent and serious games alike.

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GMD Studios Stalked by Cricket; Eldritch Gifts Prompt Response from PuppetMaster

On April 16, 2007, mysterious packages began finding their way into the hands of unsuspecting people about to be lured into a world of dreamscapes, nightmares, madness, and death. The contents of the packages led to a network of dreamers, reaching out for help to dwellers in the mundane world. The Dreamers found willing listeners and clever helpers in several internet communities. Together, these Good Samaritans became Sentries; became Providence; watched helplessly as several friends left them, one by one; embarked on a journey together to find answers; and then waited together in the darkness when, at the last, all contact with their friends was lost as the signal faded out nine weeks ago.

The Eldritch Errors ARG, produced by GMD Studios, gathered a strong following of players from its launch in 2007 into its third “book” in 2008. In February, at what was supposed to be the climax of the game’s third installment in February, the game’s momentum faltered. The day for the promised climax passed in silence. After realizing that the game was on hold indefinitely for reasons unknown, frustrated players created a space for venting and even “uncovered” an obituary for one of the game’s characters, in hopes of eliciting some comment from GMD.

On Monday, April 14, two days before the game’s one-year anniversary, a person using the alias of Mr. Cricket visited the GMD Studios offices, leaving a drawing of a cricket taped to the door. On Tuesday, Mr. Cricket visited again, this time leaving a dog collar – with the nametag of “Providence” – hanging from GMD’s doorknob. On Wednesday, the game’s anniversary, Mr. Cricket returned a third time to draw a familiar mark in colored chalks upon GMD’s doorstep.

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Eldritch Errors: No news is bad news?

ee_implode.jpgWell, there’s not much joy in the land of Eldritch Errors this week, as players and curious onlookers are stuck without an update or an explanation as to why the game has stalled. We reported earlier this week on this unfortunate turn of events for the GMD Studios production. We contacted GMD Studios for comment and were promised a statement from The Powers That Be but none has been forthcoming. So, without any indication as to the whys and hows of the current state of affairs, I’m ready to call this stalled.

In response to comments by NordicNinja, Biff and Dante, I suggest that players should wait for another few days to see if the public outcry for information results in a statement (in-game or otherwise) from the puppetmasters. Barring that, there is a slew of other games in progress — some are just starting this week — in which to get involved. As usual, the Unfiction forum is a great place to get the latest word on new, emerging alternate reality games, as is its sister site Despoiler. We’ll keep you updated if and when news develops.

Breaking News – Slowdown of Eldritch Errors

ee_implode.jpgCan this nightmare be true? Has Eldritch Errors fallen, unable to get up? According to a new section of the player-run Sentry Outpost in-game web site, the game has stalled. As well, we received a tip from a player that stated, “Eldritch Errors seems to be in the midst of imploding. Brian Clark has disappeared completely as far as we, the players, can tell.”

If this is indeed the case, we feel your pain, faithful readers, and are doing our best to get to the bottom of things. Look for an update later in the day tomorrow, as we have been told that official word from GMD Studios, the team running the game, will be coming soon.

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