Tag: Penguin Books

Traces of Hope: British Red Cross Launches ARG for Civilians and Conflict Month

Traces of Hope logoRegistration opened today for Traces of Hope, an alternate reality game sponsored by the British Red Cross. According to a press release we received last week, the game is “an experience in which on-screen characters reach out into the players’ real world.” The story will revolve around Joseph, a Ugandan teenager searching for his mother during a time of civil war. The experience will combine “storytelling, detective work, technology and treasure-hunt style gameplay in a compelling 21st century narrative, as players seek to reunite Joseph with his mother.” As Joseph arrives at the IDP camp, the game will focus on how the Red Cross’ tracing and messaging service offers the “last traces of hope” for displaced civilians searching for their families.

According to Dorothea Arndt, the New Media Manager at the British Red Cross, this game will provide an experience “where players will feel they are really interacting with Joseph’s world – by communicating directly with Joseph, players find themselves caught up in a hunt across the internet to reunite him with his mother.” And while the game will be interesting and enjoyable, there is a serious side to the narrative, as the action parallels the real life struggles of thousands of people around the world who suffer from the perils and hardships of conflict. Of course, in these real world situations, just as in the game, the Red Cross is there to provide aid for those in need.

The ARG was developed by Enable Interactive and partners with other organizations, including Penguin Books and Reuters AlertNet, to create a world that is “as realistic and authentic as possible.” In the press release, Matt Connolly of Enable details some of the aspects of the experience: “In developing the game we’ve gone to a lot of trouble to place clues, teasers and solutions around the internet, so the boundaries between the game-world and the real world become very blurred. Players will be going to real websites and drawing on genuine lifesaving information to help Joseph on his journey.” He goes on to add, “ARGs are at the cutting edge so it’s fantastic to be working on such an innovative project alongside the Red Cross and to be spreading a very positive message as well as making a great game.”

Readers of this blog may have noticed an influx of Serious Games recently, starting with the award-winning World Without Oil, Indiana University’s Skeleton Chase, Operation: Sleeper Cell for Cancer Research UK, and the Institute for the Future’s Superstruct Game. Whether the goal of the campaign is encouraging charitable donations, raising awareness about issues, conducting research, or harnessing the power of collective intelligence to resolve current and future problems, the ability of alternate reality games to encourage immersion and engagement allows development teams to channel “play” for good. Since all of the currently running games are focusing on different goals, it will be enlightening to compare player responses to the different campaigns.

You can see a teaser video for the campaign on Vimeo.

Puffin Books Announces “The Shadow War”: Young Bond ARG for Young Players

The Shadow War logoPuffin Books announced the launch of The Shadow War, an alternate reality game set in the Bond universe. The game was designed by Six to Start and written by Charlie Higson to create a parallel experience for Higson’s newest Young Bond novel, By Royal Command. The series is intended for 9-14 year old children, and has sold over three-quarters of a million copies in the UK alone. Over 35,000 fans of the series are registered as members of The Danger Society over at YoungBond.com. While the Shadow War is intended for children 9 years and older, the young at heart are still permitted to play.

The game is comprised of seven missions spanning seven weeks, culminating in a live event on October 8th featuring Charlie Higson, allowing players to ask questions and influence the game. Each mission takes about an hour, and allows players to work as a British SIS agent or a Soviet OGPU spy, exploring familiar locations. Player decisions will directly influence the outcome of the game. Players can join and leave at any point, and can even switch sides if they choose to defect.

Penguin Group has been experimenting with book publishing, most recently with We Tell Stories, a reimagining of six classic novels using different media created with the help of Six to Start. In addition, Jasper Fforde released an alternate reality game to promote his most recent Thursday Next novel under the Penguin imprint, First Among Sequels.

The first mission for The Shadow War will be revealed by Charlie Higson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 23rd. The festival will also feature a panel exploring the future of ARGs including Dan Hon (Six to Start), Alex Fleetwood (Hide & Seek), David Varela (formerly of Mind Candy), and Yomi Ayeni (Expanding Universe).

We Tell Stories: Six Stories, Six Authors, Six Weeks, and then Six to Start

We Tell StoriesLast Tuesday, the UK branch of Penguin Books launched We Tell Stories, a series of six stories based on classic novels. Each story is written by a different author and is retold through a different medium. Last week, Charles Cumming retold John Buchan’s classic tale The Thirty-nine Steps by walking visitors through the tale on Google Maps. Cumming’s rendition, “The 21 Steps”, provided a novel look at the book’s plot as well as the features of Google Maps.

Over the next four days, Toby Litt will retell M.R. James’ Haunted Dolls’ House and Other Ghost Stories in “Slice”. This week’s story plays out through Slice’s blog, as well as her parents’ blog.

The story also includes a Flickr account, a MySpace page, two twitter accounts, and an email address. Amusingly enough, clicking on the email address automatically fills out the email for you with the following.

Subject: I’ve come to save you from the boredom

Dear Slice,

My life is now totally worthless without you in it because…

While these stories are well constructed so far, the real purpose they serve is to whet the viewer’s appetites for the original texts. I know I’ll be heading over to my local library to check out a few of these tales — but if I lived in the UK, I would enter the weekly Author Prize Drawings — you can also win the Penguin Complete Classics Collection, valued at over £13,000.

Underpinning the six stories is a seventh tale. Clicking on the white rabbit on the bottom left corner of the main page leads to Treacle and Ink, a blog written by Alice. This underlying story fits within the alternate reality gaming framework, and has already led chelec on a hunt through St Pancras Station. You can read about that experience here or check her bliptv account for videos.

Click Here to check out the stories
Click Here for the thread at unfiction