Tag: San Francisco (page 1 of 4)

“Real Escape Game” Returns with Mad Scientist, Online Hunt

For Real Escape Game‘s North American debut, 9 out of 10 participants failed to escape from Werewolf Village in time. While this might sound like an abyssmal failure rate, it’s par for the course for Takao Kato’s narrative puzzle experiences, inspired by online “Escape the Room” games. During Escape from the Werewolf Village, visitors to San Francisco’s NEW PEOPLE center in Japantown were locked in the 3rd floor of the venue’s SUPERFROG Gallery for 90 minutes and charged with solving a series of puzzles leading up to the big escape. Over the next few weeks, Real Escape Game is rolling out two new puzzle adventures, both for San Francisco residents looking to redeem their puzzle-solving reputations, and for global participants looking for bragging rights.

Starting July 5th, veterans of San Francisco’s first installment of Real Escape Game and newcomers alike will have the chance to improve on their 10% completion rate as they attempt to unravel The Crazy Last Will of Dr. Mad, a physicist who requested that his will be sealed for 50 years after his passing. Dr. Mad’s challenge, “can you unravel the mystery of my life’s work,” is unlikely to be a simple disposition of Mad’s possessions. But what else would you expect from a Mad scientist? Tickets to The Crazy Last Will of Dr. Mad, which will be held at the Fort Mason Center, are $22.

Prior to Real Escape Game‘s North American debut, the game’s founder Takao Kato explained to ARGNet that “as a kid, I always wanted to ‘live in the story,’ and survive the adventure, solve the mystery, and be a hero like the characters in books I loved as a child…Real Escape Game is an opportunity to make these dreams come true.” Sara Thacher, one of the participants of the first installment (and one of the devious minds behind the Jejune Institute), noted in her review of the experience that “it was an elegant puzzle hunt. I think everyone from the girls in Classic Lolita getups at the table behind us, to the sweatshirt-clad MIT Mystery hunt regulars on my team enjoyed themselves.” Thacher went on to add that this was a puzzle hunt with narrative underpinnings, and not a literal translation of the screen-based Escape the Room games that helped inspire the Real Escape Game franchise…many of the tropes of the genre, such as riffling around for hidden keys, were absent.

For those looking for a more traditional Escape the Room experience, Real Escape Game is holding a live online challenge on July 24th (1PM GMT, 9AM EST) in both Japanese and English. Players will have one hour to collect clues within an online locked room, racing against other players for the bragging rights of first to escape. A 15-minute version of the game is free to play, giving players a brief preview, but admission for the main event is $5.

Tickets to the San Francisco hunt can be found at Real Escape Game‘s English website at RealEscapeGame.com, but if you’re interested in the live online game, head over to REGame.jp.

“Real Escape Game” Locks Players in for Mystery

Over the last five years, Takao Kato has locked over 100,000 people in bars, clubs, cathedrals, and baseball stadiums with a deceptively simple challenge: solve the puzzles within the time limit, and escape. And between March 23rd and March 25th, Kato is taking his narrative puzzle experience, Real Escape Game: The Escape from the Werewolf Village to San Francisco’s Japantown for a locked room mystery that is quickly selling out.

The premise, inspired by the popular social game Werewolf, is simple. There are sixteen villagers, three of whom are werewolves. Players have 90 minutes to work together in groups to navigate a series of increasingly difficult puzzles that will help them identify the werewolves, save the villagers, and escape. The game is designed to provide a challenge, and Kato explains that players have direct control over the unfolding narrative, noting

[t]he story unravels with each mystery completed by the players and their teammates. If you do nothing, nothing moves forward. And there are no guarantees that you’re even going to finish everything. So you’re going to have to give it your all if you want to put all the pieces together and finish the final puzzle in time.

Past iterations of Real Escape Game prove that Kato is true to his word: as the Real Escape Game‘s explanatory video states, only 9.6% of participants completed The Escape from the Werewolf Village when it was first conducted at Tokyo Culture Culture, with similar success rates for the game when it played out in Taiwan. After failing to complete a Real Escape Game murder mystery in Tokyo, Japan Times writer Edan Corkill explains “the most difficult part of a Real Escape Game is not answering questions — but identifying them in the first place.”

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DevLearn10: Paging Dr. Strangelearn

DrStrangeLearn logoLife as a Mad Scientist can be really, really tough. Sometimes it’s difficult to get the other Mad Scientists to sign on to your amazing discovery, your new way of doing things, your “Eureka!” moment.  Everyone has experienced bureaucratic inertia, office politics, and personal opposition to new ideas and innovation, but at Dr. Strangelearn’s Learning Laboratory, you can equip yourself with vital tools to overcome opposition, maybe even help others “learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.”

Dr. Strangelearn and his army of Mad Scientist friends are all characters in Tandem Learning‘s latest alternate reality game designed to enhance the upcoming DevLearn 2010 conference in San Francisco from November 3rd to 5th. The conference, sponsored by The eLearning Guild, will focus on technology-enhanced organizational learning and knowledge-sharing strategies. The Mad Scientists are being played by learning industry experts whose true identities will be unveiled at the conference and on Twitter. At DevLearn10, there will be sessions at the Dr. Strangelearn Information Stations where participants will have a chance to meet the experts.

This year, attendees of DevLearn10 will be exposed to many new learning strategies, and Dr. Strangelearn’s Learning Laboratory will help DevLearn10 participants handle organizational objections to implementing those strategies when they get back to the office. Through the game, research, case studies, and academic papers are being shared with players to arm them with what they need to convince their organizations of the feasibility and value of new learning strategies.

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An Arcade Classic Comes to Life, Secret Blueprints Revealed

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.

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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…

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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