I’m answering questions over at AF Stewart’s blog! Come stop by to say hello!
🙂 See you there.
I’m answering questions over at AF Stewart’s blog! Come stop by to say hello!
🙂 See you there.
I’m guest blogging over at the Madhouse! Come see what I have to say about Shakespeare, the new film Anonymous, and generally being a nerd.
And, speaking of Shakespeare, have you seen the release of my book yet? It has a Romeo and Juliet theme — with magic! What could be better for a fall read? 🙂 Get your copy now and let me know your thoughts.
I’ve been a bit quiet lately for a reason: I’ve been gearing up for the re-release of my book, From Light to Dark!
Game designer Jane McGonigal appeared today on a radio broadcast about how gaming can change the world. Partway through that broadcast, a caller informed her that “I’m a professor and there are more than 100 studies linking violent videogames to real-life violence.”
McGonigal tweeted about this, asking followers for links to these studies. I’d like to see the studies, too.
Now, I’m no quantitative researcher on the psychological effects of gaming. But I am a video gamer. I’m also a pacifist. I’m also friends with many other video gamers — all of them either pacifists or wholly uninterested in leading violent lives.
That, of course, is only my personal experience.
However, to say that people who play video games are likely to behave violently is like saying that children who read Harry Potter are likely to jump off their roofs on a broomstick. … I’ve heard that argument several times.
Are we unable to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction? Do we automatically do what we see our favorite characters doing? This seems like an important conversation to have, actually, as what McGonigal creates are not so much video games as they are transmedia experiences: her own version of alternate reality games. The line between fiction and nonfiction gets a bit blurred in ARGs.
By the way, it should be noted that McGonigal generally makes non-violent transmedia experiences for people to play. In fact, much of her work is aimed at improving the way people interact with each other and the world in real life. See her totally cool “Gaming can make a better world” talk here.
So, what do you think? Do games change the world for the better? For the worse? Not at all? Is there a line that game creators should not cross when it comes to depictions of violence, or is it up to us to know the difference between right and wrong?
I’m a big fan of peer reviewing. There’s a pleasure and pain that comes with having my ideas critiqued. As long as I trust the person looking at my work, there’s no better way for me to find a breakthrough than to have them pick my work apart. That’s where my big sister, whose blog you obviously love, comes in.
My entire nuclear family writes. They write well, they write for money, and their writing is their best creative product. As you may have noticed, Irene writes at a prodigious rate (see: Transition Village).
Having that many good writers around is a sweet deal. No matter which of them is too busy to help me, there’s always a fantastic writer who’ll feel obligated to look something over. I’m like the freeloading family member who doesn’t want to get a job and crashes on couches and cleans out refrigerators at a rotating set of relatives’ homes. As long as I don’t rely on any one of them too frequently, they’ll always let me mooch some of their considerable talent.
Unfortunately for Irene, she’s the one on whom I most rely. Even more unfortunate for her is that I struggle when I write anything that isn’t funny. I’m uncomfortable when my fiction stops making people laugh. As a result, her usual dark and mysterious style has to be tucked away for a bit while she reads my work.
The other night, Irene needed my help. She has a great new idea she’s been working on, and she wants to add a transmedia/alternate reality element to the mix. Since we collaborate on exactly those kinds of projects, she asked me for some help coming up with a plan. Sounds sensible enough, right?
Well, it turned out to be much harder than either of us expected. I found myself completely unable to generate effective ideas. The ones I produced were either modifications of stuff she’s already done, or too similar to campaigns other folks have done — and I’m usually full of ideas.
The problem was that the tone of this project is decidedly NOT funny. It’s quite serious, actually. I was hopelessly out of my element, and Irene was left swinging in the wind (until November?). It’s still bugging me that I can’t come up with something good for her.
It’s a testament to her talent that she frequently and ably helps me with my ideas despite the stylistic divide.
So whom do you trust with your work? Do you have a stylistic tone out of which you have trouble breaking? Got any ideas for helping me ditch the comedy when I need to?
I don’t like it that alternate reality games have to end. Call me clingy; sometimes there’s just a really good game out there, and I want to keep experiencing the world it offers for years and years. Many say that what I really want is an MMORPG, but I think that’s only partially accurate. I believe what I want is an interactive, transmedia soap opera. I want an everlasting ARG. 🙂
“And we’re really big on story; we’re really big on narrative. So what we’ve been doing for the last two and half years, more or less, is plotting a story that spans lots of different media. It’s got back-stabbings; it’s pretty much a traditional soap opera. You’ve got murders, babies, betrayal, affairs – there’s a really great audience out there for that kind of thing.” ~ Adrian Hon
The following are excerpts from a paper I did for a class on Texts and Technology. The focus of my paper was the everlasting ARG. I may post more of it later, but I’d like to begin with the positive stuff:
Several attempts have been made to market novels with ARGs, most resulting in ongoing games that provide few updates and little interactivity. By many player admissions, this does not constitute a “true” ARG, but instead is what some have referred to as an “extended” story. The joy that comes from new, interactive material dies when it is used to market certain products. What players get instead is either a proper ARG that ends, as with I Love Bees, or an extended experience that is a solitary game instead of the collaborative social network that makes up a standard ARG.
Microsoft’s Halo 2 continues to be available. Xbox continues to release new games. But the time, money, and creativity invested in the associated ARGs no longer pay dividends. The finite quality of the ARG experience dictates that, once played, the game has no afterlife, no value either as promotion or as entertainment. For potential players who hear of I Love Bees, there is no possibility of future engagement beyond reading what it was once like.
LonelyGirl15 hit YouTube in 2007 as a webisode/ARG that became viral almost instantly. This show/game/experience became an example of how ARGs can reach all types of audiences and have a profound effect.
David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions, posted about the Lonely Girl model and what made it work. One reason for the show’s success? “It’s a soap opera – People get attached to characters and need to find out what happens next. And LonelyGirl15’s melodrama makes Days of Our Lives look like the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.”
In April of 2009, CBS announced that Guiding Light, the world’s longest-running broadcast show at 72 years (recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records), was to be canceled.
“The endurance of this show is a testament to the enduring popularity of the soap opera genre in general,” said Daniel R. Coleridge, TVGuide.com soap columnist and author of “The Q Guide to Soap Operas.” “Viewers become emotionally attached to the characters, so much so that they often feel closer to them than to their own families. Soaps are broadcast five days a week, 52 weeks a year. They don’t go on hiatus for the summer. This gives the viewer a lot more time to get to know the characters and become attached to them.”
The same can be said of Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). These forms of entertainment use the same model described above, where fans are able to access the fictional world daily for as long as the servers support the experience. MMORPGs take immersion to an even higher level, allowing players to create own identities in a virtual world such as EverQuest or World of Warcraft, interacting with other players and participating in missions every single day.
This regular interaction can provide strong levels of fan loyalty over long periods of time. As soap opera fans believe they “know” the characters in their favorite shows sometimes better than their own families, MMORPG players are able to develop and carry out alternate lives with social circles and personal goals, all within fictional universes.
Interaction is an essential part of our storytelling today, and fans of many genres, rather than preferring to passively experience fiction, express an interest in participating in the progress of their entertainment.
The conclusion we can reach from these examples is this: interactivity in all storytelling genres may assist in increasing the longevity of individual stories themselves.
Perhaps the most obvious practical benefit of long-lasting or perpetual ARG storytelling is the opportunity for lengthy relationships with sponsors. In addition to that, ARGs that provide lengthy experiences can also reach out to new companies as the story shifts, bringing in fresh sponsorship to match the changing technologies and audiences.
The constant collaboration between author and audience builds viewer loyalty and interest. ARG players who fail to save a character from a terrible fate rush to message boards to express their sorrow and even guilt after the fact. Such a strong connection is reminiscent of the viewers of Guiding Light, who felt closer to the characters on the show than they did to their real families. Guiding Light provided longevity, while ARGs provide interactivity. Both appear to have a profound impact on audiences.
This is just a small section of my paper, but I decided to post the positive-ish side of things first.
So, am I crazy? Clingy? 🙂 Is it possible (or even desirable) for an ARG to go on… and on… and on?