Earlier today, I received a package containing a message in a bottle from Aguatero Industries. The company was so excited to announce its expansion into the Las Vegas and Los Angeles markets, it sent me a message secreted inside their newer, more eco-friendly bottle design. On the inside of the bottle cap, I could faintly make out the letters “WP.ME /PURU9-2” written in pen, with the number 998 embossed beneath that.
Sadly, in order to reach the message in the bottle, I had to cut the water bottle apart. Once inside, I unfolded the press release, revealing the following message describing Aguatero Industries’ involvement in worldwide urban water system operation, and announcing its plans for expansion. According to the company’s website, its expansion into Las Vegas and Los Angeles is only part of a larger rollout of services. The press release was dated in the near future, on June 10, 2010.
The company has a social media presence with its twitter account. Refreshingly (pun entirely intended), no one seems to be in physical danger. However, typing in the shortened url on the bottle cap leads to the Our Water Planet blog, which suggests the empty bottle I received represents something more insidious: “It represents something far too many people experience: a lack of water.” The blog is run by Connor Arter, who maintains a twitter account for the site.
All the signs seem to indicate that this is the launch of a new serious game addressing water scarcity and resource management issues: the Our Water Planet blog even includes a donation link to Charity: Water. Charity: Water is near and dear to to the hearts of alternate reality game fans, as players of Levi’s Go Forth treasure hunt selected the charity to receive a $100,000 donation from Levi’s at the game’s conclusion.
Was this message in a bottle simply a press release, or was it an SOS to the world?
Click Here for the discussion at Unfiction.
A few months ago, I wrote about Indiana University’s exciting new alternate reality gaming research project, Skeleton Chase. The game was a collaboration between professors Anne Massey (Kelley School of Business), Jeanne Johnston (Kinesiology Department), and Lee Sheldon (Telecommunications Department). Now that the game is over, the three professors took the time to describe the game play and their research to me.
During the first week of the game, students in Indiana University’s Foundations of Fitness and Wellness class were greeted by Steven Cartwright, a public relations representative from the Source Corporation, a fictional company researching health and nutrition. The students would participate in a series of fitness challenges, and were handed a worksheet and free bottles of vitamin water. Through the worksheet, students discovered the Source Corporation’s “Internal Site” using clues from the presentation to access the site. Through the Internal Site, students discovered IU Security reports relating to Sarah Chase, a missing student. Her former associate instructor Sam Clemens was also missing.
Over the course of the next few weeks, the students engaged in a series of physical challenges from the Source Corporation while digging deeper into the disappearance of Sam and Sarah. According to Lee Sheldon, students
searched Sarah’s office (staged with planted assets including Sarah’s diplomas and research notebook); hacked into the IU Security internal website where they could access security camera footage from the night Sarah vanished; found Sam’s hiding place (but not Sam); and were able to uncover a wide-ranging conspiracy tied to a formula that may or may not retard aging. In the process they learned of a third person’s disappearance; were alerted to flying saucers sited near IU’s Cyclotron facility; and investigated appearances of a creature dubbed the “Blomington Bigfoot” in some campus woods.
After almost two months of anticipation, World Without Oil officially launched today. Announced at ARGFest 07, the game is a “live interactive month-long alternate reality event” that will explore the idea of a worldwide oil shortage. Jane McGonigal (IFTF) and Ken Eklund (writerguy) have led a team of “some of alternate reality gaming’s most experienced puppetmasters” in creating this game, part of the Independent Lens Electric Shadows Web-original programming. With the official launch, the WWO trailhead site has a new look and new features previously not open for the public.
The self-proclaimed grassroots experience bills itself as “an insight into what happens when a great economy built entirely on cheap oil begins to run short,” as it looks at the “impact on people’s lives — work, social, family and personal — and explores what happens when our thirst for oil begins to exceed supply.” It’s not immediately clear as to how the game will take shape, but it seems that player-generated content will be at the heart of the experience, as the game will revolve around “citizen stories in blogs, videos, photos, audio and phone messages posted all over the Internet.”
You can get involved by reading the player wiki, official game blog, and the MySpace blog. You can also register at the trailhead site, and check in with developments at the Unfiction forums.
Source: PR Newswire