Tag: sxsw (page 2 of 3)

Video Games and ARGs – What Can they Learn from Each Other?

Note: This article covers two SXSW Interactive 2008 events: Cross-Media Cross-Pollination: Mashing Up Video Games and ARGs (Saturday, March 8th, 3:30-4:30 p.m.), and its follow-up, Core Conversation: What Can the Video Games Industry Learn From Alternate Reality Games? (Monday, March 10th, 3:30-4:30 p.m.).

A last-minute change in programming on Saturday, March 8th, at SXSW Interactive 2008 brought together familiar faces from the Alternate Reality Games development community: Dan Hon of Six to Start, Tony Walsh of Phantom Compass, and Dee Cook, a freelance writer and designer who has written and developed content for games such as “The 4400” Extended Reality, World Without Oil, Unnatural Selection, and many others. Hon, Walsh, and Cook presented the panel “Cross-Media Pollination: What Video Games can Learn from ARGs”. The follow-up conversation on Monday afternoon with Steve Peters from 42 Entertainment, and input from Jane McGonigal, Ken Eklund, Hazel Grian, and others, rounded out Saturday’s panel.

Currently one of the most popular past-times world-wide, video games have an audience both extensive and diverse. Gamers are consistently asking for more from game designers – better AI, more content, more interaction, more story and narrative, more immersion. What can Alternate Reality Game designers learn from video game design and the needs of video game players (many of whom also play ARGs), and what elements of ARGs might video game designers consider when making games for gamers in a world of rapidly-evolving technology and techno-culture?

The panel opened with the question: what elements of ARGs might interest and engage video gamers? “I Love Bees”, a well-known ARG, tapped into the fan base of Bungie’s Halo video game by providing a glimpse into Halo’s (and its predecessor, Marathon’s) detailed backstory. Many Halo players enjoyed ILB because of the opportunity to explore more of that game’s mythology. The puppetmasters presented a Halo story that the players could interact with in a different way, affecting the game not by moving the controller but by problem-solving with other players, answering payphones, emailing the Sleeping Princess, and convincing an AI that they were, in fact, human, and one of her crew.

Perhaps, Steve Peters pointed out in Monday’s follow-up conversation, cross-media is one answer to a demand for more interaction and individualized response. A player’s progress through a game could be tracked, with content delivered not only through the console but also through SMS, phone calls, or even the post office! Similarly, Tony Walsh raised the idea that ubiquitous computing, the imperceptible integration of computing systems and functions into every day life, might indeed be the next game platform, heralding the end of the “couch-potato” gamer.

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World Without Oil wins big at SXSW

2008_sxsw_web_awards.jpgYes, that’s right — World Without Oil, the socially conscious alternate reality game that kicked off in April 2007, has won the Activism award at this year’s SXSW Web Awards!

Although word is just now coming in, and there’s no official note on the SXSW web site, we’re happy to be able to congratulate the team, including our very own Marie Lamb and Michelle Senderhauf!

World Without Oil Nominated for SXSW Web Award

2008_sxsw_web_awards.jpgYou may have noticed from the banner at our main site that ARGNet is an Official Media Sponsor of Screenburn 2008. As part of SXSW Interactive‘s series of conferences taking place in Austin, Texas March 7 – March 11, ScreenBurn is bringing in an impressive cast of panelists. Notable speakers include Rachel Clarke (Behind the Buzz), Keith Clarkson (Xenophile Media), Dan Hon (Six to Start), Rebecca Newton (Mind Candy), and Kevin Slavin (area/code). Jane McGonigal (Avant Game) will be presenting the final SXSW Interactive Keynote on March 11th, the final day of the conference.

A few more familiar faces are bound to show up, as World Without Oil, the alternate reality game with a heart of gold, is a finalist for the SXSW Web Awards in the Activism category. The ‘serious game’ attracted a lot of attention for drawing upon the powers of collective intelligence to address peak oil concerns. Numerous ARGNet staffers past and present worked on this project (Dee Cook, Michelle Senderhauf, Marie Lamb, and Krystyn Wells), so our collective fingers are crossed for the team.

Mind Candy, who were at one time a major player in the ARG genre with Perplex City, is also nominated in the Games category for Moshi Monsters.

Transcript Published for SXSW ARG Panel

plat.gifDan Hon was kind enough to send us an email letting us know that the transcript from the 2007 SWSX panel discussion “ARG! The Attack of the Alternate Reality Games” is pubished on his blog, Extenuating Circumstances. Alice Taylor, the Vice President of Digital Content at the BBC, was the moderator for the panel which included Hon (also the COO of Mind Candy), Brian Clark (Founder/CEO, GMD Studios/IndieWire), Evan Jones (Creative Director/Producer at Stitch Media) and Brooke Thompson (Giant Mice and ARGNet).

There is a lot of information to sift through, as the panel talks about everything from how ARG is still “emerging” to how budgets are created. Thanks, Dan.

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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The 2007 ScreenBurn Festival

We are happy to announce that ARGNet is an official media sponsor of the 2007 ScreenBurn festival, taking place at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival this weekend in Austin, Texas. The ScreenBurn festival is an initiative dedicated to providing programming about the newest developments in the gaming community, and we are honored that the festival’s coordinators are recognizing alternate reality gaming as an important piece of the gaming landscape. The festival will run from March 9th through the 13th, and will feature panelists many ARG fans are already familiar with. Brian Clark from GMD Studios and Tony Walsh from secretlair.com will be there, as well as Evan Jones from Stitch Media and Dan Hon from Mind Candy Design. We are fortunate to have representation at the festival as well, as staff writer Brooke Thompson (representing giantmice.com) will be talking on the panel entitled, “ARG! The Attack of The Alternate Reality Games,” which will be moderated by Alice Taylor of the Wonderland blog.

For those looking for a more robust experience (you know, the kind that goes beyond the realm of ARG), you’ll be happy to know that, according to the ScreenBurn website, “panels cover topics such as blogging, business models, content creation, digital convergence, e-learning, entrepreneurism, open source, ubiquitous computing, web design, web hacks and web standards.” With such a depth of topics and panels, the festival should be one of the can’t-miss events of the year.

So, with all of those superstars in attendance, how do you get in on the festivities? Easy! You show up at the door of the Convention Center in Austin, and you pay your money to get in. For the sheer amount of panel discussion and events taking place this year, the $350 cost for the weekend is a bargain. So, if you want in on one of the greatest cutting-edge festivals of the year, get down to Austin and get in to SXSW Interactive. Oh, and if you see Brian, Evan, Dan, Tony or Brooke, say hi for us.

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