Category Archives: Past ARGs

Can Games Solve Global Issues?

I was looking to help me launch a discussion on games, technology, and social global problems, and lo and behold, I stumbled onto this video from CNN featuring game designer Jane McGonigal.

(Just tried embedding it, and it’s not working so here is the link)

In this video, McGonigal talks about how games can save the world. She talks about it in her book also Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World (great book, by the way– it’s really interesting. Maybe I’ll write a post about it next), but in this video she’s talking about a game that she helped design called Evoke. The game brought people together from all of the world. Hold on, I actually wrote about it in my senior thesis. Let me dig it up and post what I wrote…

Evoke introduces itself as “a ten-week crash course in changing the world.” Running from March 3 through May 12, 2012, Evoke is a social networking game aimed to empower people worldwide to develop creative solutions to the world’s social problems. Players collaborated with each other via blogs, videos, and pictures to share their experience and ideas in order to solve problems like world hunger, limited clean water, and violence in Africa. The game was designed by Jane McGonigal and the World Bank.

So anyways, check out what McGonigal has to say about Evoke and how games can help save the world.

ARG Examination: Perplex City

One of the most interesting ARGs that I’ve come across in my research is one called Perplex City. I think this one intrigued me so much because it inspired my current research on casual gaming and alternate reality gaming coming together in the new genre casual transmedia games. Anyways, as inspirational as it was for me, it turns out that it wasn’t that great of a success financially for the company that created it, Mind Candy. I think one of the major reasons why this game “failed” (I’m sure it was loads of fun, but if it flops financially, unfortunately, the game is usually branded a failure) is because it attempted to self-sustain itself. Instead of promoting an outside brand or product, the game was in a sense promoting itself. Players bought decks of playing cards much like Pokemon or baseball cards. These cards had puzzles on them. Some of these puzzles were self-contained, but others lead players to other clues, either on other cards or in the real world. The game was supposed to sustain itself therefore by the sale of these cards. It would have been amazing if this had worked. I think it would have revolutionized the gaming industry. However, the sale of these cards simply wasn’t enough to sustain the game.

“Season One” of Perplex City ran from April 2005 through February 2007. That is an enormously long time for an ARG to run. I think that might have been another reason the game didn’t do as well as it could have. It’s very hard to keep a game like that going. Why So Serious? ran for 18 months, but I think that’s an exception rather than a rule. Anyways, Mind Candy promised a second season of Perplex City, but as it says on the Perplex City website, the financial undertaking of creating a second installment would simply be too much.

It really is a bummer. I think with some game design modifications and a financial backer with a product to promote, a game like Perplex City could be a huge success.

Anyways, a few years ago, one of my first introductions to the world of alternate reality games at all was the video below that one of my professors showed us in class. The idea of it really captivated me, and well, here I am going to grad school to study them. Check on the video to find out a little bit more about Perplex City.

Why So Serious?

Here is one of my favorite videos about an ARG. It’s a recap of the ARG created for the release of the 2008 film The Dark Knight. It’s really one of the most remarkable advertising campaigns within the last several years, and even watching this video again for the umpteenth time gives me chills. To work on something that epic at that scale would be incredible. Here’s hoping!

Enjoy the clip!