Pokemon Go: Return of the ARG?

Looking out my window watching small groups of people playing Pokemon Go and listening to yet another podcast talking about it. I started thinking does the mainstream success of Pokemon Go, indicate it would be time for alternative reality gaming (ARG) to make a come back?

I mean there’s been a whole ton of successful ARGs in the past and the dynamics got watered/broken down into transmedia (which isn’t meant in disrespect, but a must read from Dan Hon); but they are quite different beasts (pun intended). Looking back at previous ARGs they didn’t take advantage of mobile. Mobile data was expensive and was quite unreliable back in the early days. This is before you even look at many of the other things mobile can give you.

Of course there’s a lot of debate if Pokemon Go is augmented realty or location based gaming. The later would put it in the same ball park of Google’s Ingress and many others. But does it matter? There will always be privacy concerns (here’s a fix for those early adopters) and those who seek to take advantage for their own gain; but it’s certainly getting people out and about, for now at least.

If I was to design a ARG say for example We Dream The City (swear I wrote about it somewhere, but maybe I haven’t yet? findery.com is close);  I would be using the phone and building in functionality which brings groups together into little adhoc clouds like Firechat. Pokemon go shows there is appetite for these types of games and the technology can scale to this extent. Now’s a good time to build these systems and hopefully think about what useful things we could do for local community and society, not just collecting virtual goods?

FREE Volleyball taster – Sat 26th March

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To celebrate Manchester Community Games Day

Moss Side Volleyball club are hosting a FREE volleyball session. Its open to all Manchester residents this Easter Saturday.

ALL WELCOME (over 18’s only), male/female, young/old, experienced or total novice!
Moss side is a very friendly mixed club! proud of our inclusive culture with players from all corners of the world!

Here is a chance to see and play, all those friends who ask me about volleyball! (You know who you are)

See you on the court?

Moss Side Leisure Centre between 3pm – 5pm on Saturday 26th March.

Emerging Tech Manchester #2: Games for good with Erik Lehmann

Erik Lehmann

After the great success of the First Emerging Tech Manchester a joint event with VR Manchester. Photos are up here on meetup.com.

We have the second . This time we have the pleasure of hosting Erik Lehmann who is pioneering the game changer movement. I become aware of Erik and what he’s doing via Alex DS who introduced us.

We are looking at the wider future narrative of games for good through the work Erik has completed and doing at the game changer movement.

Its a free event thanks to the great hosts which are Rise Manchester, this time around. As we make use of the great spaces we have around Manchester.
Get it booked into your calendar for Monday March 21st between 7pm and 9pm and subscribe to the meetup group for more information around Eriks work and further events in the future.

 

 

Perceptive learning resources

Future of StoryTelling

For the last few Wednesdays I have been watching the Future of StoryTelling hangouts online. I first heard about them from Matt Locke and Frank Rose last year when I gatecrashed a planned hangout with Perceptive Radio.

The Future of StoryTelling speaker Hangout series continues on Wednesday, January 15th, with a discussion about interactive gaming, and how great entertainment can transport you from your daily life and immerse you in another world.

You can watch the whole thing here on youtube. and last weeks with Google creative labs Robert Wong. This weeks Including my question which is based off my noticing, interaction and narrative keeps getting thrown around together when they are quite different things.

The guest this week was Microsoft’s Shannon Loftis, General Manager at Xbox Entertainment Studios. She said a lot of things I agreed with but switching narrative for interactive, paused me to think about the origins of Perceptive Media.

I’m not going to say Games and interactive experiences are not storytelling. I would be very wrong, but what I’m surprised at is Microsoft have this amazing device with cutting edge sensors and they sound like they are doing some perception. But they are only using it for Games? Shannon even talks about the golden age of Television then slides off into Games again.

Real shame…

Anyway there was a question asking about what this all can mean for children. Most of the guests give some answers which I couldn’t disagree with but Charles Melcher (founder of future of storytelling) jumps in with something quite profound.

I clipped it and put it on Archive.org but its something I’ve been thinking about since the early days of perceptive media.

The beauty of media which adapts, responds or as I prefer preconceives the audience and the context. Is it can unfold one way and unfold another way for someone else. Like Charles, I’m dyslexic and sometimes just can’t get my head around learning resources which are written for a majority of people.

I understand why its been that way. The cost of creating multiple versions of a learning resource is going to be a bad idea from a resourcing idea. But that only applies if you build your resources in a solid non-flexible way (like a blob) your going to run into the same problem described.  However if you have something more fluid (generative) or object based you can change aspects on the fly.

Simple example, a Book (any book) vs a Ereader (like a Kindle). I’m sure I’ve talked about this before but line lengths is a common issue with people who are dyslexic. We tend to loose what line we’re on for a split second.

I can reshape the lines lengths to make it more readable for myself (thats interactive). An Ereader with sensors could follow my eyes patterns and reshape the line lengths and fonts to give me the best reading experience (now thats perceptive). This all works because the text is digital and therefore an object which can be manipulated.

Back to Charles, a resource which can be manipulated by a person is good but one which can be manipulated by a process of data and sensors is even better (if they are working to aid you). Combining/aggregating resources together gets you to a position where you can weave a story together. I won’t bore you with my campfire == perceptive media equals and this is what humans do thoughts. But I do feel this is the future of storytelling. Charles vision is achievable and its something I’d love to talk to BBC Learning about in more depth.

I’ll be honest and say not only has this one got me writing but I also started writing after hearing Robert Wong talking last week about leadership and inspiring people.

Goo or google Engine?

Goo – Instant Play from Goo Technologies on Vimeo.

Short video clip exemplifying the power of browser based games for virality and instant play. Oh, and yes the game is on HTML5 with no plug-ins or download. Powered by the Goo Engine.

To be honest first time I saw the Goo technologies experiment, I thought it was Google trying to one up Mozilla. Right as the Mozilla Fest is on in London (which I couldn’t attend due to a family funeral).

Goo Engine® is the HTML5 and WebGL based 3D engine capable of powering the next generation of interactive web content. Using Goo Engine enables you to incorporate rich 3D content into your existing website without the need for special browser plugins or software downloads.

It looks impressive and if the editor is as simple to make this stuff, well who knows? Could be great in the right hands, specially hands with lots of time like young people

Catfished: A reason to be so open?

Beautiful giant kite balloon/floats -- Santa Monica, CA

I really feel for C_T_S or Claire Travers Smith, who is the writer behind 52 First dates and I wrote about quite sometime ago.

She and many others had been Catfished by someone for a good part of a year (or more) by someone calling themselves Sebastian Pritchard-Jones and other names. If you don’t know what Catfishing is…

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

Sebastian turned out to be a woman in Wales by the name Amy! Its a big problem with online dating and frankly meeting anyone online. You got to really have your wits about you and use lots of street smarts. But even with all that, its not long before you find yourself suckered into something you don’t expect.

I am glad to say this has never happened to me (yet!) even with all the women I’ve dated online. I have a non-fast rule saying if we talk online for a while there is only a few steps it can really go as a relationship. For me to say I’m in a relationship, I must have met them a few times in real life. Theres already too many people messing around dating sites never actually going on dates for various reasons. Even some of the dating sites are waking up to the reality of these “Timewasters” and encouraging people to meet in the real world. Putting the dating back into dating, indeed…So no matter how well we’re getting on, we got to meet in the real world for me to change my single status (FB Status joking of course).

I of course am pretty open and I got to say I’m pretty consistent.This is maybe why I find it hard to be someone else?Anyway I’m shocked at this story and can’t imagine what its like to be catfished, not just physically but very much mentally. Although I did feel like I might have been years ago… (details are best left alone) One of the most interesting points is when one of the victims starts working things out and contacts other victims. Because I gather the catfishers are never satisfied with just one or two people duped. Victims can gather together and learn a lot about the catfishers. But this requires being frank and open about whats been going on…

One advantage of there being so many victims, according to Claire, is that they were able to compare notes. Clues.

I think something is happening but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Being able to clearly say this is me and I am who I say I am is becoming huge currently for the internet. Connected profiles make it difficult to do identity fraud in the way of a catfisher would need or require. In the case of Seb, the persons identity who was stolen was Gary who lived in Hull.

The man in the images seen by Ali turned out to be a construction worker called Gary who lived in Hull. As with Craig, his photos had been taken from Facebook; Gary admitted to me, when I telephoned, that he’d never been very careful with his security settings. I told him Ali had been so wrung out by her nine-month affair with Seb – Gary’s face, stranger’s voice – that she’d eventually relocated to Australia. Gary told me: “It’s a weird feeling to think somebody was in love with you like that. I just feel really sorry for [Ali]. It’s hard for me to take in, it’s been a shock, but I’m not the one who’s had my heart broken. There’s nothing worse.”

I’m of course not wanting to test the theory with my own profile or wish it upon anyone else. (oh and I’m not blaming Craig, he’s a victim in this as well) but I do wonder if a catfisher was to take on a hyper connected profile would it work the same? I guess what I’m wondering…

Is a hyper-connected profile, the only way to protect against being catfished? Just a thought… Of course you could always keep your self off the internet all together but thats just being silly… But when working with a profoundly disturbed psychopath could this work?

after discussion with psychologists and with editors at the Observer it was agreed that this extensive, energetic fraud could only have been conducted by a profoundly disturbed person. When I presented the evidence gathered to an investigative psychologist, Dr Keith Ashcroft, he suggested “the temporary relief of boredom” as one of the hoaxer’s motivations. He also introduced me to the psychologists’ term “duping delight”. Dr Ashcroft explained: “Essentially a thrill derived from having victims being intensely controlled and manipulated by carefully formulated deceptions. This is often the modus operandi of a psychopath.”

Manchester Werewolf chapter – Wed 25rd Jan

Manchester Werewolf Chapter

Manchester Werewolf Chapter is back for 2012 and were teamed up with the guys at Larkin About again.

On Wednesday January 25th, the Manchester Werewolf Chapter and Larkin’ About will be running the first Werewolf game of 2012 at Barcelona Bar in the Northern Quarter. For FREE!

Werewolf is a simple game of strategy and deception, played by a large group of people.
The game is all about making accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, and social engineering.

All are welcome! We have a great location with a bar because we all know deception is thirsty work. The event is suitable for all levels of experience from absolute newbie to Werewolf expert.

To register your interest, please visit our Facebook event page, or send us an email to larkin.about2009@gmail.com.

Should you play money poker with friends?

I say no. I think there’s too many things which can go wrong in a game especially when money in involved.

Victoria Coren seems to disagree but considers that social rules should be considered up front.

First, you have to decide whether you and your friend are happy to play fully against each other: trap-checking, check-raising, punchy value bets, the lot. If so, don’t be surprised if your friendship turns a little tense for a while. But there is no need to tell everyone your life story. Plenty of casino cohorts know each other and, if you’re playing straight, there’s nothing to announce.

If you are not prepared to treat your friend as any other opponent, you shouldn’t play on the same table. I am still stuck in an ancient tradition with my old mucker The Sweep: if we are heads-up in a casino pot, we check it down. That kind of thing must be announced, but should be avoided. Luckily, The Sweep is a total rock. If he so much as breathes on a pot, I fold everything but aces anyway.

Its getting a little like this when playing Werewolf with friends too.

Alternative Reality Gaming Whitepaper

Jane McGonigal on ARGs

The ARG SIG has written a whitepaper for Alternative Reality Games – ARGs.

This is the first paper from the ARG SIG, and provides a full introduction to the genre as well as a wealth of practical and analytical information on design methodologies, business models, and current and recent games.

The ARG industry is consistently producing multi-million-dollar games for tens of thousands of players at a time, and generating interest across the entertainment, broadcast, and advertising industries. In the last few years, successful games have received widespread recognition, winning awards from the gaming, media and broadcasting industries. As well as these critical success, there are already several businesses with long-term sustainable revenue streams.

Although new to many people, Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are still far short of achieving their full potential, each new wave of games bringing major new innovations and increased understanding of what works and what doesn't. We hope you find both inspiration and real practical help in this paper, and look forwards to playing the next wave of ARGs you come up with.

The word in the communities around ARGs is that it royally sucks. As Christy points out in a note BBCi did Jamie Kane not Crossmedia entertainment and there's meant to be lots more errors and mistakes. For the full low down listen to the ARGN podcast 25mins from the end.

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The game: Lost

Riven screenshot

I was listening to the excellent Pop!Tech live stream over the weekend and one of the things I heard which I need to blog at least was the thought by (i'm sure) Edward Castronova that Lost takes most of its queues and ideas from games? The example he gave was the trend setting Myst and Riven games. And honestly when he said that I instantly started thinking about screenshots like this type of thing. But Edward was more getting at the depth and interactivity (yes you heard me right) than anything else. One of the points included the numbers which keep appearing throughout the series, something which encorages extra thought and people to do things like this and this. This type of behavour tends to be more common with games. When IT Conversations puts the audio online I'll put a link to it and it will all make a hell lot more sense, than me trying to do it from memory.

Without indulging my Lost thoughts, I find this all pretty interesting when you read Lost Boy's blog post about Lost: the game. The linkage between games and lost is all there and when you think about it more it makes more and more sense.

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