Two warring factions, the Staves and the Knaves, try to restore balance after intruders from the “real world” (the Seers) have upset their virtual world called Terra Tectus. From the makers of Ghosts of a Chance, the Smithsonian’s new game Pheon will debut this month with a live event at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington, DC, on September 18, from 12pm to 6pm. In addition to creative activities, the live event will feature clues somehow encoded into a belly-dancing performance.
A modified version of Capture the Flag, Pheon will divide participants into one of the two factions, and an online questionnaire will determine if you are a Stave or a Knave. Individual players and teams will complete various missions and tasks related to the museum’s art collections to earn points and advance the game’s plot. Players will go through three levels of play (Neophyte, Acolyte, and Lamplight Council) before they reach the final stage and are able to “write” missions to challenge lower-level players. Gameplay will be enhanced by character interactions, with the ultimate goal of capturing the Pheon, a virtual talisman that will restore balance to Terra Tectus.
July 21, 2010 / Jane Doh / Comments Off on The Smithsonian and the Boy Scouts of America Team Up for ScoutQuest This Weekend
This year, the Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 100th anniversary and has teamed up with the Smithsonian Insitution to create ScoutQuest, an “interactive citywide hunt” this Saturday and Sunday, July 24-25, in Washington, DC. Uncovering “links between Scouting and some of our greatest national treasures,” participants will seek out QR codes in eleven locations on or near the National Mall. By collecting codes, players increase their chances of winning a mountain bike.
The Smithsonian Institution has been something of a vanguard in weaving interactive, collaborative, and transmedia elements into the museum-going experience. The highly regarded alternate reality game Ghosts of a Chance from 2008 involved puzzles and ciphers integrated with exhibits at the American Art Museum and used text messages for game play. More than a scavenger hunt, a half-naked trailhead for Ghosts of a Chance dropped at ARGFest 2008 in Boston. Players from around the world were asked to create and photograph their own artifacts, which were then integrated into the narrative. Even now, two years after the full alternate reality game, a module version of the scavenger hunt is run at the museum occasionally, or at the request of groups. The American Art Museum is also participating in ScoutQuest this weekend.
A map of all the ScoutQuest locations is available here, but interested players should probably start at “Adventure Base 100,” which will be located just north of the Washington Monument. The event will be playable on July 24th and 25th during museum hours (generally 9am to 5pm, but some museums may have extended summer hours).
An important and much hyped event in the Flynn Lives! ARG came to fruition May 6th–the public unveiling of Encom International’s online version of their 1981 arcade classic “Space Paranoids,” which debuted at San Diego’s Comic Con 2009 for the Flynn’s Arcade event.
As a prelude to its release, a special countdown teased the game’s release. Players who visited the countdown splash page were able to click and destroy Recognizers that appeared and hovered across the screen. It served merely as a timewaster, but if players had the patience to keep clicking and destroy 99 Recognizers, they received a badge on FlynnLives.com. By persisting further and destroying 999, they received another badge. Finally, when the countdown ended on May 6th, Encom published their much-anticipated Space Paranoids Online arcade game, just as Alan Bradley had announced.
In April 2009, Staff of the Magi Productions (SotM) opened their second project, “Something Is Coming”, set in Harper’s Ford, a fictional town in the Pacific Northwest trapped under some kind of barrier with all manner of ravenous plants and beasties. With Harper’s Ford under martial law, Dave Dolan runs a pirate radio show, sending over 30 transmissions in about six months. We find that the entire United States has been put under quarantine. A possibly alien, possibly government paramilitary group, the Contingency Foundation, has enlisted us to some mysterious end.
Since Fall 2009, “Something Is Coming” has moved into a more location-based form of gameplay, localized exclusively but broadly to the continental United States. In September, representatives were chosen for each time zone, and these four teams competed, secretly racing through clue solves that eventually led to a dead drop. These first runners each received a live psychic reading (check out the wiki for player videos) and a “Compass,” a hardware-encrypted IronKey USB flash drive engraved with the Contingency Foundation logo. IronKey drives can be remotely managed and feature a permanent self-destruct sequence, triggered after so-many failed password attempts. Continue reading
You may not be aware of it, but the Harry Potter fandom community does some fairly nifty stuff. Apparently, people like JK Rowling’s franchise enough to put on puppet shows, start rock bands, and write fan-fiction of Professor Severus Snape… well, let’s just say there’s a reason I’m not linking to Snape’s fanfiction here.
Sufficed to say, I consider myself a fan of our bespectacled hero and his ragtag crew of hooligans. When my city transformed downtown into Diagon Alley for the midnight release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, I was one of over 50,000 in attendance, decked out in House colors. So you can imagine my excitement two weeks ago when I learned about Muggle Quidditch 2.0, a Harry Potter themed alternate reality game. There’s a lot of creative energy out there in the community that could be harnessed for a great game.
Since our last article, the game mechanics of the non-magical version of Quidditch have been revealed. Contrary to my expectations, the ARG’s version of Quidditch will not require players to actually run around cradling broomsticks between their legs. Instead, GoCrossCampus.com is hosting a virtual game of strategy, highly reminiscent of Risk, where the four Hogwarts Houses battle for supremacy. Once a day, individual players log on to charge their energy that can be used to move or attack rival territories. Since this process takes less than a minute a day, the game is ideal for keeping its casual players engaged, while creating opportunities for more committed players to create elaborate strategies or negotiate with other Houses.
There’s just one catch: the game won’t start until 15,000 people register to play. Matthew Brimer, Chief Marketing Engineer at GXC Studios, Inc., informed me that “things are pretty hectic around here what with Ludo out of commission and the Ministry breathing down our neck to get this game going with the numbers they’re expecting. We’re just doing the best we can to cooperate with the MQ 2.0 effort and do our part as Ludo’s partner.” In order to achieve these numbers, members of the Chamber of Secrets forums (the official forums of MuggleNet.com) are reaching out to Harry Potter fan communities far and wide to get the word out. The Wizard Rock groups The Gryffindor Common Room Rejects and The House of Black have agreed to create demos to help the cause.
Since one of the main selling points of Muggle Quidditch 2.0 is the opportunity to support your Hogwarts House, GoCrossCampus’s decision to sort players randomly is surprising. While this can be chalked up to a rather capricious Sorting Hat, the decision to set a mandatory player base is harder to rationalize. The strategy has been successfully utilized in the past, but the move is a risky one. When 42 Entertainment launched its campaign for the Dark Knight by removing a pixel for every email sent to the website, a massive fan outpouring revealed the image within hours.
Muggle Quidditch 2.0 has not been put on hold for the recruiting period: numerous clues have been hidden in maps at the GoCrossCampus website, existing websites have updated, and players were charged with drafting a speech for Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt. However, by waiting to provide an outlet for casual participants, the game may see high attrition rates from registrants before it reaches 15,000.
The Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum is hosting a ghostly scavenger hunt later this month as a part of the Ghosts of a Chance ARG. Attendees will participate in a series of code-breaking, puzzle-solving and ghost-hunting quests designed to help rid the museum of its “mischievous spirits”. The scavenger hunt will take place at the museum on October 25th from noon until 5pm. While exploring the museum, make sure to check out the Ghosts of a Chance art display which showcases art created by players for the ARG.
For those who can’t make it to Washington D.C. for the event, the ghosts of the Smithsonian still need your help! They would like players to work together to create a quilt code to be used during the scavenger hunt.