Gaming Visionary Creates ARG For New York Public Library

Gaming Visionary Creates ARG For New York Public Library

Jane McGonigal's next alternate reality game will give players historical quests in the New York Public Library.

Jane McGonigal is known for her progressive thoughts on videogames and how they can change the world, as detailed in Reality is Broken. One of the methods through which she expresses her views is the alternate reality game, a technique that combines the real world with concepts found in games like quests and rewards. On May 20, 2011, McGonigal will bring a new ARG to the New York Public Library to raise interest in the building's contents.

For one night only from 8pm to 6am, McGonigal's Find the Future: The Game will allow 500 players to participate in a "Write All Night" event where they'll explore the library with laptops and smartphones and answer questions about their experiences. These answers will be included in a book that the NYPL will add to its collection.

Find the Future aims to keep players interested by giving them missions associated with 100 "humanity inspiring" objects found in the NYPL. Players will have to follow clues to these objects, which might end at the Declaration of Independence or a piece of 100-year-old artwork.

McGonigal says that Find the Future is "designed to empower young people to find their own futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and objects of people who made an extraordinary difference." She hopes it will "turn players into superempowered, hopeful individuals with real skills and ideas to help them change the world."

After May 20, Find the Future will be available for everyone to play on their own personal devices or through the NYPL's public computers. If you'd like to become one of the special 500 to participate first, you can sign up here.

Source: NYPL

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Right now I'm cursing my residence on a different continent. That sounds both fun AND interesting!

I now have an overwhelming urge to write something.
And Now I have!

That's pretty awesome, but I'm nowhere near NY. Moving ARGs from video games to libraries to get people a little interested in learning again....

image

Aside from the sheer scale, I can't really see anything innovative in this. Is it not just a library section of a scavenger hunt?

If there's something I'm misisng here, please inform me, as I've read a lot on her work and agree on most of her ideas, but this kinda seems... lacklustre.

*Looks at the video*

"Yeah! Pack up your stuff, grab your writer's cap, let's go on an ADVENTURE!"

*Arrives at the public library"

-YEAAAH, ADVENTUUUUUUU-

"Shhhh! Quiet, this is a library!"

Seriously, that video was really overblowing the whole deal. Still, looks cool, wonder what will come out of it.

I'm debating if I should sign up and go, or go later? I'm going to do it at some point.

...I thought the term was augmented reality, not alternate reality...

...If it "superempowers" people successfully, have fun, I guess?

As an above poster commented, this is really just a tech-ed up scavenger hunt. But there's nothing wrong with that, and should give kids (and perhaps some adults) exposure to the library system as well as a sense of participation.

Call it "Where in the Library is Carmen Sandiego?"

snave:
Aside from the sheer scale, I can't really see anything innovative in this. Is it not just a library section of a scavenger hunt?

If there's something I'm misisng here, please inform me, as I've read a lot on her work and agree on most of her ideas, but this kinda seems... lacklustre.

The aim isn't simply to play a game, but to write a book collaboratively in a gameing environment. I look forward to seeing the results.

In other interestingness, if each person writes only 2000 words, they'll end up with a one million word document. Easy ask in 10 hours. Likely a hell of an editing job though.

Easily Forgotten:
...I thought the term was augmented reality, not alternate reality...

...If it "superempowers" people successfully, have fun, I guess?

AR(Augmented Reality) usually involves taking a camera and a program and adding something to video feed that is not really there.

ARG(Alternate Reality Game) is combing a game with real world things. All though the terminology is just technical, a lot of people have suggested that the A stand for alternative or augmented.

Speakercone:
The aim isn't simply to play a game, but to write a book collaboratively in a gameing environment. I look forward to seeing the results.

In other interestingness, if each person writes only 2000 words, they'll end up with a one million word document. Easy ask in 10 hours. Likely a hell of an editing job though.

Ah, cheers for the clarification.

So they're making a collaborative fiction stuffed with intertextual references? That's a lot more interesting -- can't wait to see the results -- although definitely straddles the edge of the definition of what constitutes a game.

Someone will do a liveblog, right?

This is...a very interesting example of Gamification.

Looking at the website, I can't help but feel that it amounts to little more than Huckleberry Finn tricking kids into painting the fence, except Huckleberry Finn is Jane McGonigal, and the fence is the intellectual progress of mankind.

But it's still very interesting...selecting 500 people based on their capacity for vision, sticking them in a room, and telling them, "Contribute to history overnight." Very lofty concept. I'll be keeping my eye on this.

snave:

Speakercone:
The aim isn't simply to play a game, but to write a book collaboratively in a gameing environment. I look forward to seeing the results.

In other interestingness, if each person writes only 2000 words, they'll end up with a one million word document. Easy ask in 10 hours. Likely a hell of an editing job though.

Ah, cheers for the clarification.

So they're making a collaborative fiction stuffed with intertextual references? That's a lot more interesting -- can't wait to see the results -- although definitely straddles the edge of the definition of what constitutes a game.

Not sure if it's fiction. The website is a bit vague about the specifics. A book will definitely be written though.

As for what constitutes a game, I'm reading McGonigal's book now and early on she identifies the definition "Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles" (Reality is Broken pg. 22, 1st edition UK.) You're right in the sense that it doesn't look like what we've come to think of as a game.

I can't help but to be utterly disinterested by this idea I'm afraid.

It seems like a good concept except for the fact that it'll only truely be interesting for the first 500,because they are doing something while after that it'll be a lot more boring. (I live in NJ and could play this but 1.I'm 15 and wouldn't be able to get a ride there and 2.I would probably fall asleep some point during it unless I'm interested long enough,which most likely won't happen.)

oh my goodness... making reading fun it's... it's...

Hurrah for gameification of real life!

I want to participate!

Umm...someone start something like this in Germany?

Johnnyallstar:
That's pretty awesome, but I'm nowhere near NY. Moving ARGs from video games to libraries to get people a little interested in learning again....

image

Awesome. That picture is brilliant.

And yay for libraries doing cool things! Hope they have a good turnout.

I love libraries, so huzzah for this idea! (I've got twelve library cards. How many do YOU have, eh?)

So, apparently scavanger hunts are now ground breaking psychological ideas? I'm so utterly confused. I hate to break it to you, Ms. McGonigal, but my childhood would like a word with you on plagerism for those ideas you're claiming to be your own.

HellsingerAngel:
So, apparently scavanger hunts are now ground breaking psychological ideas?

I suppose you could call this a scavenger hunt. I suppose you could also call Counterstrike "Cops and Robbers", for that matter, and add about as much to the discussion.

Try reading up on ARGs, or maybe even try one; I participated in a couple, and they felt completely different from (and much more involving than) scavenger hunts.

-- Steve

Anton P. Nym:

HellsingerAngel:
So, apparently scavanger hunts are now ground breaking psychological ideas?

I suppose you could call this a scavenger hunt. I suppose you could also call Counterstrike "Cops and Robbers", for that matter, and add about as much to the discussion.

Try reading up on ARGs, or maybe even try one; I participated in a couple, and they felt completely different from (and much more involving than) scavenger hunts.

-- Steve

Ok, so I actually decide to indulge your request. I really don't know all that much about this, as you stated, so I got a basic grasp on how this stuff works. Please, correct this information if it's wrong, but this is what I've gathered:

Wikipedia:
* Puppetmaster - A puppetmaster or "PM" is an individual involved in designing and/or running an ARG. Puppetmasters are simultaneously allies and adversaries to the player base, creating obstacles and providing resources for overcoming them in the course of telling the game's story. Puppetmasters generally remain behind the curtain while a game is running. The real identity of puppet masters may or may not be known ahead of time.
* The Curtain - The curtain is generally a metaphor for the separation between the puppetmasters and the players. This can take the traditional form of absolute secrecy regarding the puppetmasters' identities and involvement with the production, or refer merely to the convention that puppetmasters do not communicate directly with players through the game, interacting instead through the characters and the game's design.
* Rabbithole - Also known as a Trailhead. A Rabbithole marks the first website, contact, or puzzle that starts off the ARG.
* Trailhead - A deliberate clue which enables a player to discover a way into the game. Most ARGs employ a number of trailheads in several media, to maximise the probability of people discovering the game. Some trailheads may be covert, others may be thinly-disguised adverts.
* This Is Not A Game (TINAG) - Setting the ARG form apart from other games is the This Is Not A Game aesthetic, which dictates that the game not behave like a game: phone numbers mentioned in the ARG, for example, should actually work, and the game should not provide an overtly-designated playspace or ruleset to the players.

So a dungeon master helps lead a set of adventurers through the city in an attempt to create and epic adventure, setting up plot hooks, obstacles and puzzles for the adventurers to solve...

You know what? This is rediculous. This particular person is literlaly trying to make a claim to fame through a game that's existed for almost fourty years! And from a handful of the playerbase which is segregated by the other portion of the playerbase at that! I'm not even sure how she's getting away with this. I suppose it's because LARPers are pretty nice people and they don't really care how you do it, just that you do it. As I said before, good to know Ms. McGonigal is such a braintrust that she needs to take concepts that have been around forever and then claim them as her own work.

HellsingerAngel:
Ok, so I actually decide to indulge your request. I really don't know all that much about this, as you stated, so I got a basic grasp on how this stuff works. Please, correct this information if it's wrong, but this is what I've gathered:

What you've gathered isn't even wrong, to use the current vernacular. It's like describing baseball as a guy throwing a ball that another guy tries to hit with a stick... it's correct, as far as it goes, but vastly incomplete. You'll get a better feel for what an ARG is by reading up on individual games done in the past.

The Beast, arguably the first full-scale ARG... a promo for A.I. that was better than the movie.

I Love Bees, the famous/notorious promo for Halo 2.

World Without Oil, a "serious game" ARG exploring the consequences of "Peak Oil".

Last Call Poker (link to cnet.com) was an ARG written by Walter John Williams as a promo for Gun, but also exploring how society copes with our mortality.

Why So Serious? promoting, well, three guesses...

Maybe there are elements of LARP in it... but what describing it as "just another D&D" misses is the scale, both in depth and breadth, of the games. That's why I said the comparison is as unfair as dismissing Counterstrike as just a fancy way to play "Cops and Robbers".

-- Steve

PS: In the interests of full disclosure I should say that I know people who've worked in some of the above ARGs.

I want the piece of music used in that trailer. It was very good.

 

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