Tag: Ken Eklund (page 1 of 2)

Ed Zed Omega: A Serious Game Visualizing New Approaches to Education

“There’s this expression, “zed omega.” It means “so over.” When you go zed omega, you are done.”
Ed Zed Omega Revealed 

When it comes to public or private education, everyone has an experience, everyone has a story, and everyone has an opinion. The internet is rife with pointed discussions about the problems in education, and full of suggestions on how to solve them. While education issues vary broadly from state to state and nation to nation, they share at least one commonality: solutions tend to be easy to propose but difficult to implement. Education reform is an ongoing conversation amongst government officials, educators, and the public, and conversations between these groups are often politically charged and riddled with miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Andi McDaniel and Ken Eklund have brought something new to the conversation about education with their freshly-launched project, Ed Zed Omega. The project focuses on a set of voices that often gets lost in the cacophony that pervades the education discussion: the voices of those most directly affected by our education systems, the people currently subject to the state of “being educated.” Ed Zed Omega features the stories of six fictional teens who have decided that they are done with education, and that they’re not going back. Their guidance counselor, Mary Johnson, has convinced them to use the time they would have spent in school to complete one more assignment, exploring solutions to the problems they perceive in education. Ed Zed Omega launched on August 15, 2012 and will run through November 15, 2012 to follow their journey.

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Come Out and Play in Brooklyn this June

Come Out and Play Festival

Get ready for another exciting edition of Come Out and Play!  This New York-based public games festival is gearing up for its 2010 edition, which will be headquartered at the Lyceum in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood June 4-6.  The Festival has extended its deadline for submitting games to April 19th, so if you have an idea for a fun game, there’s still time to get involved. The Festival planners are working with game designers to refine their ideas and make sure they fit the location and scope of the event. Past games presented/debuted at COAP include Cruel 2B Kind by Jane McGonigal and Ian Bogost, as well as Jane’s Cryptozoo and the Lost Sport of Olympia, Ken Eklund’s Spy School, and TAH II, which was an extension of TAH, an alternate reality game produced by Cultural Oil.

I spoke recently with Greg Trefry, Festival Co-Founder and the author of “Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in ALL of Us,” to get some details on what to expect this year.  Greg says there will be a mix of games requiring tech and not, and is very enthusiastic about location-based games that leverage tech like smartphones and apps for play.  Festival sponsor SCVNGR, known for their smartphone based geo-gaming tech platform, will be presenting their own game, but CEO/Chief Ninja Seth Priebatsch was not forthcoming with details. “Well, I can’t tell you too much about what we’re going to be showing off (it’s some sweet new features) but in general it’s in the same vein as what SCVNGR’s all about; making building and playing location-based mobile games fun, quick and easy.”

Greg says that while no games have been officially accepted and announced yet, the popular “Circle Rules Football” from last year’s event will be returning, and he expects a great mix of games, including “weird new sports.” He would love to see submissions for ARGs and games that include ARG elements, as he feels location-based games and ARGs dovetail nicely by using the content of the real world and blurring the lines to enrich the experience of gameplay so you’re “not sure if you’re looking at the game any more.” The real world “is the highest resolution thing you’re gonna play,” he notes.

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ARGNet on “The Digital Edge”

thedigitaledgeARGNet’s own Associate Editor Marie Lamb appeared on South African marketing podcast The Digital Edge this past week to discuss alternate reality games. Marie was joined by alternate reality gaming developers Ken Eklund (World Without Oil), McKinney’s Chris Walsh (Art of the Heist), and Cherryflava’s Jonathan Cherry (Can You Twist). The Digital Edge produces weekly podcasts on topics related to digital marketing.

Marie provided a succinct explanation of what alternate reality games are (and what they are not).  During the podcast, she noted that “a real ARG has to have two crucial elements, in my opinion, to succeed.  It has to have a really good story, and it has to have a strong community of players.  In the best ARGs, these two are interlinked.”  Then Ken Eklund, Jonathan Cherry, and Chris Walsh each described the rationale behind launching an alternate reality game along with brief explanations of their respective projects.

Click Here to listen to the Digital Edge episode on alternate reality games.

Spring Cleaning, Part Two

streetsweeperAs promised, here is our second installment of the spring cleaning of the ARGNet inbox, with game tips and news items dating back to the beginning of the week. Enjoy!

May 21: “N” sent us in the following game tip which he found on “this new site online”: I found this article below on this new site online. There have been random texts with riddles going around about it. What do you guys make of it? I figure this is your area. ——————————— Is When they were Pharaohs really an A.R.G. in disguise? by E.A. Wallis First there was The Beast, then there was I Love Bees and Lost Experience, now an A.R.G. in a story on ancient Egypt? In an age where alternate reality gaming has taken on many forms, there are practically no limits in the way that mass online adventures are now being played, but in the novelization of an upcoming theatrical stage play? In a way When they were Pharaohs might represent the ultimate in reality fact finding, puzzle-solving missions, in what is looking to be another world-hopping adventure, but you’ll need to be an Egyptologist or hieroglyphics expert to crack some of these modern takes on ancient riddles, because though some clues are hidden out in plain sight with hieroglyphic translations conveniently included, others are presented completely without. Of course the ancient Egyptians themselves had games and other leisurely pastimes to remedy their boredom (although without Facebook) but a modern-day reenactment of the mythological quest of Horus and Isis to revenge Osiris? With the re-discovery of the mummy of Hatshepsut in 2007, this real life saga has enough drama and irony, worthy of a Greek Tragedy. I may have found the eye of Horus, but if you can tell me where Osiris is laid, you might as well solve the riddle of the Sphinx. We did a little Google-fu and found this exact text (save for one line) on Craigslist ads from Los Angeles and Baltimore. After looking at the web site from the ad, I’m going to go out on a limb and say no, not an ARG in disguise. However, prove me wrong and earn a place in my heart.

May 21: The good and wonderful Tony Walsh send in this tidbit about an upcoming event: Hi guys, just wanted to let you know about this upcoming event in San Francisco. Tony Walsh (Phantom Compass), Lance Weiler (the WorkBook Project), and Ken Ecklund (sic) (World Without Oil) will all be appearing at KQED in San Francisco next Saturday. http://www.bavc.org/index.php?option=com_registrationpro&Itemid=935&func=details&did=903 On Saturday, May 30 at 1:30PM Pacific in the KQED ATRIUM, Tony Walsh (Phantom Compass) and Ken Eklund (World Without Oil) will present on the topic of games for change: Games for Change has turned into its own movement of creatives, technologists and gamers who are developing interactive and game projects driven by social issues.Tony Walsh, CEO of Canadian game design firm Phantom Compass, and Ken Eklund, developer of the award-winning ARG World Without Oil unpack some of the most successful social change games and related creative experiments and provide a blueprint for filmmakers looking to get into “game space.” Hey, that’s only three days from now! Hopefully this meas that some of our Bay-area readers can make it down to see this presentation!

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Deepwell: Tell It to Someone Who Cares

rubyesbequest

The Institute for the Future once again opens a window into tomorrow’s world, this time letting us peer into 2010 where in the town of Deepwell a woman’s mysterious will has the townsfolk in an uproar. On December 7, 2009, the citizens of Deepwell learned that a woman named Ruby Wood left a “substantial” sum of money to their town, but with one condition – that the townspeople learn to take better care of each other. Who is Ruby Wood? No one in the town seems to know. The town will learn more when the last will and testament of Ruby Wood is opened on March 9, 2010.

In order to get a little outside help and advice on caring, the citizens of Deepwell have launched a website called Ruby’s Bequest, along with a town blog, Deep Into Deepwell, where citizens can discuss the bequest and other town interests. Accusations of being “the town that doesn’t care right” and the tragic death of an elderly citizen have upset many of the townspeople and sparked a debate about caring.

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Video Games and ARGs – What Can they Learn from Each Other?

Note: This article covers two SXSW Interactive 2008 events: Cross-Media Cross-Pollination: Mashing Up Video Games and ARGs (Saturday, March 8th, 3:30-4:30 p.m.), and its follow-up, Core Conversation: What Can the Video Games Industry Learn From Alternate Reality Games? (Monday, March 10th, 3:30-4:30 p.m.).

A last-minute change in programming on Saturday, March 8th, at SXSW Interactive 2008 brought together familiar faces from the Alternate Reality Games development community: Dan Hon of Six to Start, Tony Walsh of Phantom Compass, and Dee Cook, a freelance writer and designer who has written and developed content for games such as “The 4400” Extended Reality, World Without Oil, Unnatural Selection, and many others. Hon, Walsh, and Cook presented the panel “Cross-Media Pollination: What Video Games can Learn from ARGs”. The follow-up conversation on Monday afternoon with Steve Peters from 42 Entertainment, and input from Jane McGonigal, Ken Eklund, Hazel Grian, and others, rounded out Saturday’s panel.

Currently one of the most popular past-times world-wide, video games have an audience both extensive and diverse. Gamers are consistently asking for more from game designers – better AI, more content, more interaction, more story and narrative, more immersion. What can Alternate Reality Game designers learn from video game design and the needs of video game players (many of whom also play ARGs), and what elements of ARGs might video game designers consider when making games for gamers in a world of rapidly-evolving technology and techno-culture?

The panel opened with the question: what elements of ARGs might interest and engage video gamers? “I Love Bees”, a well-known ARG, tapped into the fan base of Bungie’s Halo video game by providing a glimpse into Halo’s (and its predecessor, Marathon’s) detailed backstory. Many Halo players enjoyed ILB because of the opportunity to explore more of that game’s mythology. The puppetmasters presented a Halo story that the players could interact with in a different way, affecting the game not by moving the controller but by problem-solving with other players, answering payphones, emailing the Sleeping Princess, and convincing an AI that they were, in fact, human, and one of her crew.

Perhaps, Steve Peters pointed out in Monday’s follow-up conversation, cross-media is one answer to a demand for more interaction and individualized response. A player’s progress through a game could be tracked, with content delivered not only through the console but also through SMS, phone calls, or even the post office! Similarly, Tony Walsh raised the idea that ubiquitous computing, the imperceptible integration of computing systems and functions into every day life, might indeed be the next game platform, heralding the end of the “couch-potato” gamer.

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