Puppet Masters: The Importance of a Team

Over the past four weeks, I have been in a chaotic state of panic and creativity as I launched my own version of an alternate reality game. I should note that the game that I created and launched was not a true ARG in many ways, but it did create an alternate reality for my University over the span of a week. I will be writing more posts on it later, I’m sure, but I wanted to simply post about the most important thing that I learned over the course of creating and implementing the game: the importance of a team when creating a game.

I feel like maybe this is obvious to some people– if you’re creating a large scale game, it’s going to be pretty much impossible to do all of the planning, implementing, logic-ing. That is clear. However, I think that no matter what the scale of a game is, even a game made only for a small university of only 2400 people and that had under 200 players, a game team is absolutely vital. There is just too much to do, too much to account for that a single person, no matter how brilliant and prepared they are can take care of.

I had help during my game, for sure. I was constantly bouncing ideas off my advisors and another thesis student. However, bouncing ideas off of people is different than having people intricately involved in the game design. If nothing else, having a team helps you with checks and balances. Just having someone there to say, “Hey are you sure that’s a good idea?” or “Maybe if we phrase it this differently, it won’t confuse as many people.”

My game only ran for a week and had under 200 players, and yet any alternate reality game that is launched requires so much attention to detail and so much involvement that no matter the scale, there needs to be a team of at least two or three people working on it. Several semesters ago, I worked on a project at an even smaller scale that the game that I just launched. It was so small that people didn’t even know it was a game and we had no one follow through to the end. We had a blast making it, but even still, it would have been impossible to pull off what we did if it was just one of us.

The technology that I used could have benefitted so much from a team. One of the most important aspects of a team is, of course, the ability to specialize with individuals who have certain specialities. One of my friends was already helping me with graphic design, but I easily could have used a video person for filming and editing, another person for developing an easy-to-use way to keep track of points (because that was an entire job in and of itself), and another for figuring out multiple platform distribution. I used the internet, email, and text messages and of course physical means to deliver my clues, but it would have been a lot cooler to find other technological methods to distribute clues. I feel like that can only be done with a team.

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