Tag: San Francisco (page 2 of 4)

Rachael Webster Is Calling Me a Liar: Meet Her at GDC

rachaelwebsterRemember how I insisted a few months ago that Rachael Webster, the video game blogger behind PixelVixen707.com, was fake? The folks at GameSetWatch and I were convinced she was all part of an elaborate yet eloquent ruse to get people to buy JC Hutchins’ new book, Personal Effects: Dark Art.

Rachael Webster called us out. She’s real, and she’s willing to prove it.

Rachael Webster will be attending the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco next week shaking hands and passing out business cards. The first ten people to crack the puzzle on the back of the card and email a picture of themself holding the card to [email protected] will receive “something cool” from her friend Jessica.

During last week’s ARG Netcast, JC Hutchins talked about his work on the transmedia novel Personal Effects: Dark Art. Explaining the debate over Rachael Webster, Hutchins told us that “Rachael is Rachael. Rachael is real in a way that is really kind of brainbending and really cool…Rachael is as real as you want her to be.”

As for me, I’ll believe it when I see it. So if you receive the business card seen above from a snarky woman at the Game Developer’s Conference, convince her to take a picture with you, and send it to us at [email protected] And if I’m wrong, I’ll commit myself to Brinkvale Psychiatric Hospital.

Click Here for our previous coverage on Rachael Webster and Personal Effects: Dark Art

A-Mazing Event in San Francisco

P4200259.JPGWhen in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. –R.A.H.

Over fifty people gathered at Sutro Heights Park in San Francisco this past Sunday to practice the ancient sport of “Labyrinth Running” which, according to the recently-launched Alternate Reality Game, “Find the Lost Ring,” was lost in 393 A.D. when Theodoseus banned the Olympic Games. Find the Lost Ring is an ARG designed to promote the upcoming Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China in August, and is sponsored by the McDonald’s Corporation. It officially launched on March 3, 2008, shortly after trailhead clue packages were received by various ARGonauts and media sites.

The ARG is conducted in several languages and has gained popularity all over the planet. It was reported that at least two other training events were taking place that day in other parts of the world, including in Brazil, which country holds one of the largest interested groups of players of this game that isn’t a game. It is scheduled to run through to the closing ceremonies of the Olympics on August 24, 2008.

Labyrinth organizers Tom and LenoreAlthough the event was organized by two players, Tom Bullock (aka Ariock) and Lenore Henry (aka hmrpita), it was also acknowledged by the game, and an in-game character named Kai announced early that he would attend the practice run. Lead designer and avant-gamer Jane McGonigal also appeared at the event and offered to help organize and referee the training.

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The Brooke Thompson 2007 Conference Tour, Part One

Editor’s note: Brooke Thompson is back after a whirlwind tour of some of the biggest festivals so far this year. She attended the Game Developer’s Conference and was a speaker at the South By Southwest (SXSW) and ARGFest-o-Con conferences. This article is the first in a series about her experiences.

GDC.jpgWhat happens when you spend 15 days on the road traveling from conference to conference? You get just about nothing done, including writing reports from the road for one of the greatest websites on the internet (that’d be ARGNet, of course). At first this distressed me, but then I realized that most of the conference sessions that I had attended were well documented on blogs and news sites – some nearly word for word! – and that waiting allowed the experiences that I had to sink in and meld together into a bigger picture. It’s that picture that I hope to paint for you over the next few articles.

The thing that I realized as I traveled from ARGfest to GDC to SXSW is that Alternate Reality Gaming is leading the future of entertainment.

We’ve been saying that for a long time. So, what’s different? What’s changed?

The word is out. People hear “Alternate Reality Game” or “ARG” and they understand what you are talking about. I don’t mean to say that everyone that I met understood it, but if I walked into a crowd at least one or two people did and they were able to get the rest of the crowd excited and curious. And explaining it to those that have never heard of ARGs is easier today than it’s ever been. People might not know that Lonelygirl15 has an alternate reality game component, but they’ve heard of it and when you talk about how the story is out there and it’s fiction outside of a book or TV show and, in fact, might send you an email or call you on the phone – they get it. It doesn’t seem strange, it seems cool.

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Fest Quest ’07

Fest%20Quest%20map.jpgOH NOES!! Gupfee’s been kidnapped! Even as the last words of keynote speakers Sean Stewart and Elan Lee echoed around the conference room, ARGFest attendees were quickly rounded up into groups, based on the color of the square on the back of their lanyards (so that’s what those were for!), and each group was given an envelope. The person or persons responsible demanded payment in the form of items (including a ciphered cake) that had to be collected from various locations in San Francisco. Save the ARG Ghoddess Gupfee!!

The first puzzle was to figure out where to go first. Some double letters in a piece of poetry, plus a “decoder ring” image, led to the place – MUSEE MECHANIQUE – and an item – COPPER SAL. Copper Sal?! What the heck is a sal? Was it decoded wrong? Did the kidnappers make a mistake? Already, the Questers were filled with doubt. No matter, Gupfee must be saved. {cue dramatic music} Off to the Musée Mechanique!!

gupfeetied.JPGThe FestQuesters quickly collected their wits and headed over to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Musée (which is fancypants talk for “museum”). Fortunately for our intrepid Questers (and Gupfee), there was a labeled map enclosed with the directions, and the first team was there in no time. Upon entering the museum, the first thing they saw was Laughing Sal. Hey, it’s a Sal! And right next to Laughing Sal was a penny squisher (for lack of the technical term) that made — you guessed it — copper sals. The next puzzle used the plaque in the Laughing Sal machine, and led us to another San Francisco landmark, the world-famous Ghirardelli Square.

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ARGFest Panel Videos on YouTube

Without the work of Ben Wochinski (encoding and uploading), Celina Beach (filming) and Sean C. Stacey (transcribing), among others, these videos would not have been made possible. A huge thanks to everyone who worked hard to get these videos up and available.

The 2007 ARGFest-o-Con in San Francisco had some brilliant speakers, and now you can watch the panel discussion from the comfort of your own homes! Click on the YouTube link above to get to the playlist that contains all of the videos that were recorded in San Fran, including:

  • The Introduction
  • Panel 1: Developing an ARG
  • Panel 2: Running an ARG, Part 1
  • Panel 3: Roundtable with 42 Entertainment
  • Panel 4: Running an ARG, Part 2
  • Panel 5: Defining ARGs and the Future of ARG
  • Keynote Presentation: Sean Stewart and Elan Lee, 42 Entertainment

Some of the videos had to be split due to length of discussion, but everything that the panelists discussed is right there on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Also, transcriptions are currently in the process of being completed at the ARGFest-o-Con wiki, and if any of you have a few extra minutes through the day, help them out by transcribing a few minutes of video.

ARGFest 2007: Cruel 2B Kind

c2bklogo.jpgWelcome to beautiful downtown San Francisco!
Did you see that amazing cable car?
You’re looking gorgeous tonight!

You’re too kind.

I should know, of course, since teammate Elan Lee and I are the Cruel 2 B Kind World Champions. We achieved this renown by carefully plotting our strategy weeks in advance: we monitored traffic patterns in the play area from a helicopter, had minions who quietly attached GPS tracking devices to ARGFest participants so we could locate them easily during the Friday night game, and brought in an industrial psych firm to do detailed profiles on our competitors so we’d be able to out-think them.

C2BK.jpgThere’s a vicious rumor going around that we ended up partners by accident, hadn’t read the instructions in advance, and won only through sheer dumb luck, but I will of course categorically deny the truth of said rumor. And you should believe me. After all, I’m the world champion in a game of sneaky assassination, so you know you can trust me.

Cruel 2 B Kind is a game of “benevolent assassination” in which you slay other players with compliments and other kind phrases. You don’t know who else may be playing, so you have to be kind to random strangers as well, often with entertaining results. The three phrases listed above were our weapons, which we deployed against other teams in a sort of verbal rock-paper-scissors encounter to determine who was victorious and who was dead of an overdose of kindness. At ARGfest, we played the “Booty Variant” in which each player carried a piece of booty to award to the assassin who killed them most impressively. The booty ranged from the bizarre (a length of rubber tubing) to the edible (cookies and gourmet chocolate) to the truly entertaining (the “It’s Just A Flesh Wound” shirt Elan acquired from one of our first victims). Each time you kill another player, they are absorbed into your team.

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