Alternate Reality Games SIG/Educators and ARGs
International Game Developers Association
This section provides information about educators who are creating ARG type games for teaching. Please feel free to add yourself!
Bryan Alexander is Director for Research at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, working from offices at Middlebury College, where he researches the advanced uses of information technology in liberal education. A PhD graduate of the University of Michigan, he taught English and information technology studies as faculty at Centenary College of Louisiana. His primary research interests concern mobile and wireless computing, digital gaming, and social software.
Other interests include digital writing, copyright and intellectual property, information literacy, project management, information design, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Committed to exploring computer-mediated pedagogy, he continues to research and write on the critical uses of computers and teaching in terms of interdisciplinary liberal arts and the contemporary development of cyberculture.
Website: NITLE Liberal Education Today: http://www.nitle.org/
Website: Smartmobs: http://www.smartmobs.com
Weblog: Infocult: http://infocult.typepad.com
- Alexander, B. (2005a) 'Alternate Reality Games (ARG)' presented at New Media Consortium Online Conference on Educational Gaming, Online, 8 Dec.
- Alexander, B. (2006a) 'A New Approach to Gaming and Education: Alternate Reality Games' presented at ELI Annual Meeting: Advancing Learning: Insights and Innovations, San Diego, CA, 30 Jan. Some detail at available at: http://infocult.typepad.com/presentations/2006/01/test.html
- Alexander, B. (2006b) 'Alternate Reality Game Practice: Puzzles and Design Workshop' presented at ELI Annual Meeting: Advancing Learning: Insights and Innovations, San Diego, CA, 30 Jan.
Ravi Purushotma is a Masters candidate in the MIT Comparative Media Studies program, where he works as a researcher on their New Media Literacies and Education Arcade projects. Formerly a student in the UCLA Teaching English as a Second Language program and English teacher in southern China, his interests are in how foreign language learning will need to be re conceptualized to take advantage of the instantaneous access to foreign culture and media available with today's technologies.
In the Project New Media Literacies whitepaper that Purushotma contributed to, ‘Confronting Challenges of Participatory Culture’, ARGs are offered as examples of collective intelligence (Jenkins, et. al., 2006). Of particular interest was the approach to problem solving as team-orientated, inverting the contemporary approach of creating autonomous problem solvers; and peer-to-peer learning. The report includes ARGs as a potential classroom practice to ‘help children to learn what they need to know to become fuller participants in the new media landscape’ (ibid.).
Purushotma describes ARGS as the quintessential teaching mechanisms for many of the skills listed in the whitepaper. He is pursuing ARG research and its application in education in a few ways: a comparative analysis of ARGs and webquests; identification and extrusion of ARG design principles to apply to educational webquests; investigate the skills acquired whilst playing an ARG and how these techniques can be applied in curricula in general and specifically for foreign language subjects.
- Jenkins, H., R. Purushotma, et al. (2006) ‘Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century’, Project New Media Literacies. See their website: http://www.projectnml.org. pdf
Jane Turner (truna)
Jane Turner (aka truna) is a game design researcher, teacher and artist. Turner is chapter auntie of the Brisbane IGDA and a researcher for the Australian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID), exploring cultural interfaces in game design in particular. She is currently also a lecturer in Immersion and Game Design.
Personal Webpage: http://truna.net
Design Website: http://making-games.net
Ann Morrison lectures in studio process, interactive environments and visualisation within the Information Environments Program, School of ITEE, at the University of Queensland. Morrison is an installation and new media artist with a 17 year exhibition history and 9 years multimedia industry experience. Morrison is currently writing, working with locative experience projects and constructing a context containment interactive environment.
Personal Webpage: http://anmore.com.au
University Webpage: http://www.itee.uq.edu.au/~morrison/
ARGs & Turner & Morrison
In their paper, ‘Suit Keen Renovator’, Turner and Morrison provide a case study of an ARG created as a pedagogical tool for undergraduate students (Turner and A. Morrison, 2005). Their ARG, which they term as ‘[Alt] real’, was developed to ‘test the potential of exploiting a rich immersive multiplayer environment’ and to ‘engage and develop self-directing learning processes’ (ibid., p: 209). It was funded by The University Teaching and Learning body and the Australian CRC for Interaction Design. The subject, Creative Industries, aimed to guide students in designing solutions for real world problems. 300 students in the first semester and 120-150 in the second-semester participated. The project, Creative Town, was a simulation of a Queensland town, Our Ipskay, in need of planning assistance.
In groups of 3-4 they interrogated the various in-game websites to find ‘gaps and opportunities they can turn into business or art design proposals’ (ibid., p: 211). They then presented posters of their pitch and submitted written proposals to a fictional Business and Arts Council. The proposals are discussed in enactments of council meetings with tutors playing council officials. The meetings helped provide the conflict needed for gameplay, they explain, but also provided feedback to students as to their progression through tasks. Turner and Morrison observed that students could see how the theory was relevant, treated the town and therefore their proposal as ‘real’ and participated in the production of the imaginary town and the cultural and economic implications of design. Future iterations will have a greater adherence to the real life rules of council meetings. In summary:
The strengths of [Alt] real design, as opposed to use of more graphic or technologically rich environments, so tempting in projects like these, are the strengths of the dream of interface design: that the task can be achieved without noticing the technology, that the environment doesn’t coerce any particular style of activity and the imaginations of the players are allowed full reign (ibid., p: 213).
The contribution this case study makes is two-fold: Firstly, it targets and implements a way to engage students with theoretical concepts by giving them a practice-based and relevant pathway with which to engage. And secondly, it also uses simple technologies to achieve a game environment that the students become very involved in. More complex technologies would alienate non-technical, non gaming students, and disadvantage those without access to higher-end machines (ibid.).
For education departments this is of some significance, making these forms of learning environments a cost effective and easy to implement learning tool (ibid.).
Turner is working on a paper at present that will include an analysis of ARGs, and Morrison will have ARGs figure in her forthcoming thesis.
- Turner, J. and A. Morrison (2005) 'Suit Keen Renovator: Alternate Reality Design' presented at The Second Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment Sydney, Nov, published in Y. Pisan (Ed.) Australasian conference on Interactive Entertainment, University of Technology, Sydney, 209-213.
Creative Town: Our Ipskay
This project took place in 2005 as an aspect of a tertiary unit in the Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology. The alternate reality was constructed as a place to inspire and engage a cohort of about 500 first year students.
the following is a paper presented by ann morrison and truna
Virtual territories and their theme parks are more akin to the physical world of real estate than they might at first appear. The trick in triggering the designer's imagination, is to find a 'nice renovator' (cottage/ house) at a low price, with loads of potential, and by doing it on the cheap to add character, and engage the imagination. Here the designer can construct changes from an imagined space. Vision is more important than how the actual place presents. This work describes a case study involving undergraduate students in the Creative Industries who needed a place to explore, so as to create their own visions and projects. The place had to inspire, trigger engagement, and their imaginations. At the same time it was important that the place did not coerce activity, or distract from the task by confusing tools with task, or architectural navigation with conceptual skills.
The solution was an alternate reality.
Websites constructed for the fabrication:
Steffen P. Walz
Multimedia and Digital Design, Monash University, Australia
3rd year class in Multimedia and Digital Design at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. The project required students to create "crossmedia fictional worlds', of which ARGs were an option. Both of the groups chose the 'alternate reality' design aesthetic. They had 5 weeks to conceive, produce and implement the worlds. They used numerous websites, emails, postcards, newsletters, forums, stickers and so on. Class conceived and run by Troy Innocent.
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
At the ETH zurich in switzerland, we take advantage of pervasive games / game design (which are, in comparito teach students, and expect pervasive games as results from students, too, cf.
both design studios were german only, but there are a number of articles about these classes in english; they are listed in the blibliography at: