Tag: new york (page 1 of 4)

Interview with Tom Salamon, Accomplice Co-Creator

Accomplice
Below is an interview that ARGNet’s own Michelle Senderhauf conducted with Tom Salamon, co-creator of Accomplice: New York, Accomplice: The Village, and Accomplice: Hollywood. You can find details on participating in Accomplice at AccomplicetheShow.com.

MS: What made you decide to do theatrical performances in the wild rather than in a traditional theatre setting?

TS: A lot of the inspiration came from just loving to people watch in NYC, and all the quirky, crazy people that you see on any given day.  We thought that if we could figure out a way to develop characters that would blend into the woodwork of the various neighborhoods, and have a way that our actors could identify our audience but not vice-versa, we could create an effect that felt like the city was filled with extras in our little story.  We were also watching a lot of the reality TV of the day, and were interested in the sociological aspects of it, and thought that we could emulate the feeling of being on one of those shows for our audience.  
 
MS: Where did the idea for Accomplice come from?

TS: My sister (co-creator Betsy Salamon-Sufott) and I were on a walking tour throughout lower Manhattan a few years ago.  While we were seeing all of these cool, out of the way spots, we found the tour guide boring, and thought that there might be a more exciting way to experience these locations.  We thought we could design a program where people would get dropped into the middle of an adventure throughout the city.  And while there were various gaming events that incorporated quick bits with actors, I don’t think anyone had really taken the time to structure a story and cast legit improv actors, and give them room to breathe and be funny and engaging, and have a narrative unfold that the audience would be in the middle of.  

MS: After signing up for an Accomplice performance, what should the customer expect?  Do you have any suggestions on how to get the most from the experience?

TS: Come to have fun and play along – the cast loves it when you participate.  You’re not role playing, you’re just being yourself, so have fun with it and get involved.  Also, a group of 10 is the best way to attend because you’re with all of your own people, but if you don’t have 10 it’s no problem – you’ll be paired with others – just work together!  

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Chasing Down a Healthier Heart: Cryptozoology is Hard Work

ninja-rabbitI saw a ninja rabbit this weekend.

Even for San Francisco, that’s a little out of the ordinary. But if Jane McGonigal and the American Heart Association have their way, you’ll be seeing a lot more of the elusive ninja rabbit and its cryptid compatriots over the coming months as part of Cryptozoo.

Cryptozoo (pronounced crypto ZO-oh) asks players to put themselves in the role of cryptozoologists, searching the city streets for cryptid tracks in the hope of a rare encounter with an elusive cryptid. Each cryptid has a particular method of running, and will be scared away unless the cryptid chasers match its movements. For example, cryptozoologists searching for a Slamina run backwards, making sure they don’t step on any cracks. More competitive cryptozoologists can challenge teams to a race mimicking one of the thirteen different species of cryptids. Players keep track of their steps with pedometers, and after completing 5,000 steps are inducted as official Cryptozoologists.

The first two official Cryptozoo chases occurred in San Francisco on June 5th and June 7th. Next week, the game is moving to New York City, where cryptic cryptid clues will be broadcast on the MTV screen in Times Square on June 12th from 11PM to 1AM. A second chase will occur in New York City on June 13th.

The game was spawned due to a prediction from the Institute for the Future that by 2019, the dividing line between exercise and play would erode. The American Heart Association challenged IFTF to make it happen sooner, and Jane McGonigal and her team picked up the gauntlet. Drawing heavily upon parkour for inspiration, Cryptozoo lowered the barrier for entry of the activity by focusing on simple tasks that transform urban environments into playgrounds such as running along curbs, sliding under railings, using parking meters as vaults, and spinning around trees. Natalie Cartwright created character designs and costumes for the various cryptids to add an additional layer of adventure to the experience. San Francisco cryptid chasers encountered a Slamina, Triptree, and Ninja Rabbit. Large gatherings of players organized on the Cryptozoo homepage may lead to additional appearances of wild cryptids.

Chasing cryptids is tiring work, but the experience is fun. Really fun. A number of random passerby joined the group for Friday’s late night run through the SoMA streets and gardens. And although this past weekend was the official launch of Cryptozoo, multiple groups met up in the United States, England, and New Zealand to give the game a try. Jane McGonigal explains that as people interact with their environment more in their day to day lives, there’s less of a need to go to the gym to get a workout. Her hope is that players will start to look around their communities and wonder:

Wouldn’t it be fun if I…

Puppetmasters wanted, Geppetto need not apply

job_opportunityOur roving reporters regularly scan the blogs and news sources that make up our digital world, and this morning, staffers Marie Lamb and Michael Andersen found two unique opportunities for aspiring game designers in Los Angeles and New York City. If you are someone who wishes to work in the exciting field of alternate reality game creation, these might be a stepping stone in the right direction!

First up, a craigslist ad from a company called Urban Interactive, who is advertising for an “Alternate Reality Game Writer for iPhone (NYC).” The ad talks about a new product called Urban Sleuth, which is described as, “a platform that allows anyone to create alternate reality games, ranging from simple treasure hunts to full-blown storytelling adventures that incorporate improv actors, local merchants, flash mobs, etc.” It also reveals that a new ARG will be launching in March called The Analog Resistance, and lists the cities of Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago as locales affected by the game. Specifically, they need help writing missions for events taking place in Manhattan, and the ad suggests that owning an iPhone or iPod Touch would be helpful.

The ad triggered a spark of a memory for me, and as I looked back in my cluttered inbox, I did find a game tip from last month that we weren’t able to follow up on which relates to this ad. The email, from Nick Tommarello, further describes The Analog Resistance this way: “It’s the ‘Amazing Race’ meets The Game (with Michael Douglas).” Sounds altogether cool and wonderful!

The second job opportunity isn’t a paying position, but an internship at Studio 33 in Los Angeles, according to this posting at internweb.com. There are quite a few positions available to those who wish to intern at the start-up, including Production Office Management, Web Series production, Alternate Reality Game production, Website Development and Maintenance, Sponsorship & Advertising and Marketing. The hours are flexible, and students may be able to use this for college credit. The start date is listed as “immediately” and the internship runs to the end of April, 2009.

So what are you waiting for — get out there and make a great game!

“Stop The International” Returns With A Bang – And Lots Of Cash

IBBC.JPGStop The International, the promotional ARG for the Clive Owen movie The International, first debuted in November 2008 when live events were held in several locations around the world, including Berlin, Los Angeles, New York City, and London. During these events, players were given clues to “evidence caches” containing money and documents which could be used to prove The International Bank of Business and Credit’s shady dealings. The game lasted four weeks… and then seemingly went dead.

On January 14th, the site went live again – and in a big way! In the four weeks since the first part of the game concluded, the main character, Inspector Salinger (Clive Owen) was dismissed from Scotland Yard after his main informant was killed in a suspicious car crash. However, he is continuing his pursuit of the International as an Agent with Interpol and with the help of a Manhattan prosecutor named Eleanor Whitman, along with the help of a new informant from within The International – and YOU! Salinger’s new informant is stashing more evidence caches around the United States and Europe in over 60 different dead-drop sites over the course of the next three weeks, and he needs our help in retrieving all the evidence caches so they can be submitted as evidence to Interpol, and bring down The International once and for all!

The first drop sites in the list went live on January 15th in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego. As each city’s countdown expired, a clue to the location of the cache, a number code, and GPS coordinates were revealed. Players in each of the cities rushed to the sites, and upon arriving, discovered a lockbox with a combination lock which could be opened using the provided number code. Packed inside the lockbox compartments was money of many different countries — US, Australian, and Hong Kong dollars, Mexican pesos, Russian rubles — and the money was REAL. The map page displaying the dead-drop sites then updated, indicating that the cache was successfully picked up and evidence forwarded to Interpol. As an added bonus, players could enter the serial numbers of the retrieved money and see the trail the money had followed – crime lords, criminal organizations, money launderers (however, apparently *any* serial number from any form of currency will work as well). All drop sites that went live yesterday were successfully found, with the sole exception of the first in New York City, more than likely due to players not realizing what exactly they were looking for.

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Discovering the Lovely City of Milwaukee

thisismymilwaukee.jpgA breath of fresh air swept through the alternate reality gaming community last month when This Is My Milwaukee came to town. The surreal, humorous and down right strange 10-minute promotional video is so dense with story and snippets of clues scattered through-out, that it requires many viewings to fully digest.

As the video explains, Milwaukee was home to a corporation known as Blackstar. Blackstar employed many locals and developed some sort of meta-being known as Go.D.S.E.E.D. With the arrival of Go.D.S.E.E.D came the subsequent destruction of much of Milwaukee’s natural environment. As there was no other option, project Go.D.S.E.E.D had to be destroyed, and so it was put to rest, buried deep below Milwaukee’s Canning District in an emerald casket. However, Go.D.S.E.E.D fragments still attack the locals from time to time. Sheltering one’s self in buildings with proper protection or carrying a flare gun and a rebreather is vital to one’s protection from Go.D.S.E.E.D fragment attacks.

Soon after the ARG was released, the emergence of a possible dead drop became apparent. Hidden at the bottom of TIMM’s website was a link to a YouTube video. When the video title’s long string of numbers was decrypted, it revealed the New York Public Library, Rose Reading Room, South Hall. At the end of the video was the call number AI3.A23. An Unfiction forum member went to the NYPL and successfully found the book referenced in the video, which revealed a sheet of paper with a picture of a fennel bulb and a new phone number.

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Player Review: Prototype 161 Mare Vitreum

Editor’s note: The following is a recap of the Prototype 161 event on October 31, 2008 in New York City. Originally brought to our attention via a lovely piece of glass swag, the game took players to the streets of NYC on the spookiest night of the year, and intrepid player Jim Babb covered the event for us. Thanks to Jim for his eye-witness account of what transpired.

This past Halloween night, I was member of a group of elite investigators that brought down an evil cult mastermind and his super genetic computer. Yep, a first for me, but just another night for Prototype 161. The event had an online pre-game that Prototype assured us was not necessary for the game and which I enjoyed. The pre-game even had a clue drops in five cities across the country.

At 7pm the event started in New York City’s Central Park when investigators were each handed a folded piece of paper, sealed with wax (a nice touch in my book). The first part of the night was a foot race around Central Park solving simple clues in order to build a map that would come in handy later when we moved over to Roosevelt Island. For those of you that have never been, Roosevelt island is accessible by means of a Tramway and was also the home of New York’s abandoned mental institutions. The Tramway offers an excellent view of the city and was my favorite part of the night — I am glad that the Puppet Masters included this in the game. Roosevelt island offered an excellent backdrop for the rest of the night, because of its size, roughly 0.3 square miles. However, despite the amazing setting of the game the night quickly hit some snags.

We were met on the island by a “professor” giving a lecture on the occult at the local youth center. The youth center would become our home base for the rest of the evening and into the morning, which was decent enough until the soda machine ran out. Most, if not all, of the teams became stuck on the first puzzle (my own team was out of commission for 2 hours). The puzzles were difficult and fun if not entirely related to the premise of the event. One of the major problems I had with the game was after the first clue was finally solved: it provided an answer with which we didn’t know what to do. We were supposed to be looking for a six-letter word, but there were not hints to this effect.

Finally, my team got back on track as we split up to get the rest of the clues. The island was used to full advantage by the PMs. They had us running up and down the area, from a Chinese restaurant to get puzzle containing fortune cookie, to a garden that was totally creepy and dark at night. I am pretty sure that the drunk guys outside the garden were out-of-game, but nevertheless they provided a nice atmospheric element. Other snags included one of the puzzles being vandalized (pumpkins smashed), restaurants used in-game that closed because it was too late, and the police breaking up the big groups of people.

However, my team was determined not to give up, but we were far too frustrated and tired to put in the needed effort to finish with a bang. We all received text messages informing us to stop what we were doing and see the finale. We had lost, but everyone did get to see the end acted out. The problem here was that the finale only made sense to those that had played the online pre-game, but was interesting enough even if a little anti-climatic.

I was excited to try my hand at an alternate reality game and I thought Prototype 161 would provide a good crash course in the genre, and while it did provide me with a feel of ARGs I wish it had gone a little smoother.

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