An Alternate Reality Game (ARG) is an interactive networked narrative that uses the real world as a platform and uses transmedia storytelling to deliver a story that may be altered by participants’ ideas or actions.
The form is defined by intense player involvement with a story that takes place in real-time and evolves according to participants’ responses. Subsequently, it is shaped by characters that are actively controlled by the game’s designers, as opposed to being controlled by artificial intelligence as in a computer or console video game. Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and collaborate as a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities. ARGs generally use multimedia, such as telephones, email and mail but rely on the Internet as the central binding medium. (from Wikipedia)
Gary Hayes presented distributed storytelling through a wide range of digital tools in this graphic below, all the media tools used can be on PC or mobile devices. They are placed in this drawing according to their attributes which could serve different purposes and situations.
Dr. Elaine Raybourn is working in transmedia learning since 2010, creating games, virtual worlds, and social simulations since 1998. She leads teams that research transmedia learning, next generation learners’ adaptive posture and their interactions with future learning technology. What’s Transmedia Learning ?
“Transmedia Storytelling is the system of messages that reveal a narrative or engender an experience through multiple media platforms, emotionally connecting with learners by involving them personally.”
Transmedia storytelling in ARG
An overview of transmedia usage in “Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and Storytelling” (education-focused) presented by Cat Flippen explained using transmedia storytelling to design ARGs.
ARG for K-12
Slides from University of Michigan “4 T Virtual Conference” (Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology) is a version for K-12 application including examples.
ARG in High Education
Just Press Play is a program in Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to wrap gameful and ludic experiences around the traditional pedagogical processes of a modern university. Starting in October of 2011, 750 students at RIT’s school of Interactive Games and Media received some cryptic instructions to log onto a website, create a profile, talk to a professor, and pick up a keychain.
To encourage participants to instrument their digital and analog lives in a way similar to how Foursquare encourages players to keep track of the places they visit, a “frame game” that wraps around the most common activities inherent to student life at RIT was created – an alternate reality game (ARG).
The immediate goal of Just Press Play is to explore the design, legal, and privacy challenges related to creating an ARG for education. The name “Just Press Play” speaks itself the intention toprevent the the major pitfall of gamification – offering extrinsic rewards for things that have intrinsic motivating value.
Why don’t we flip a MOOC with an ARG? This paper explores the literature on motivation with games and learning, drawing on evidence from problem-solving research and collaborative gaming communities, and presents a model for understanding motivation with Alternate Reality Games as a distinct genre.
Story design is still the core
Designing ARGs is orchestrating cross-platform user experience. And, ARGs could involve the intersection of many disciplines: game design, user interface, graphic design, animation, story telling, subject content expertise, programming, publishing across mobile and desktop platforms. But, the writing and story are the basis for a good ARG, not the specific technology. Very elaborate ARGs can be written with the only tool needed to play is a mobile phone with text messaging. A simple bridge between a SMS gateway and an LMS or CMS is all you would need for tallying and record keeping. (quote from Alternative Reality Games (ARGs) as Mobile Learning, which gave advices on institutional learning)
Alternative Reality Game is well suited for mobile learning
Mobile is like a doorway to our minds because of its intimate relationship with us. Mobile is also like a versatile swiss knife set to operate many media platforms and do actions. It could facilitate location-based games to use locations as learning context. And the advance of augmented reality technology could empower ARG even further. Alternative Reality Game is well suited for mobile learning. Through designing the interactions between 3 main elements of ARGs: content (and the tool carrying it), behavioral target and audience. The goal is to create an engaging learning experience that’s social, participatory, personalized, and cross-platform(anytime, anywhere).
Having surveyed teenagers in 30 countries, this week researchers at GlobalWebIndex just revealed that the number of teenagers claiming to be active on Facebook had dropped to 56% in the third quarter of 2013, from 76% in the first. Where are they going instead? Not surprisingly, it’s mobile chat services like WeChat, and photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat. (latest research) There is a clear, definitive shift to mobile in general. Should we meet learners where they are?
More resources on ARG: