This 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.
It’s been three days since Find the Lost Ring launched with a fanfare of posters and yarn. Since that time, players and puppetmasters alike have been busily fulfilling the prophetic messages written on vintage Olympic postcards. The game traces a story fraught with mystery and intrigue across the globe in so many languages, you’ll be glad you studied Esperanto in university. You did study Esperanto, didn’t you?
If you’ve been reading ARGNet recently, you might be able to guess one of the developers behind the curtain. However, it’s now official. According to the Lost Ring development team,
The Lost Ring is a global alternate reality adventure created in partnership between McDonald’s, AKQA and Jane McGonigal. Designed in collaboration with the IOC, The Lost Ring invites players from across the globe to join forces online and in the real world, as they investigate forgotten mysteries and urban legends of the ancient games. The Lost Ring recognizes McDonald’s historic sponsorship of the Olympic Games, and brings the spirit of the Games to people around the world.
Jane McGonigal adds that she is “so thrilled to be collaborating with these organizations to create what we hope will be the most global ARG, ever. This is really a dream project for me – we are bringing together the two kinds of games, ARGs and the Olympics, that have the power to engage and unite people all over the world.” So far, the game is succeeding admirably, with characters interacting with players in English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Esperanto.
If your curiosity is piqued, a brief review of what’s happened so far is waiting for you after the jump.
In a recent post on Avant Game, Jane McGonigal mentioned she is hard at work on a super secret project that will funnel ” happiness hacking, collaboration superpowers, amplified individuals, and collective intelligence gaming”, using “a lot of new high-tech toys and tricks”. While Jane didn’t elaborate further on the project, numerous job postings online by Jane and another, as-yet-unidentified team member searching for a bilingual community-organizer-slash-puppetmaster indicate we may find Jane’s “secret project” is an alternate reality game that will run for around six months, starting in February.