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Feb'09

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7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ARGS
Educause Learning Initiative
Abstract Exerpt:

Alternate reality games (ARGs) weave together real-world artifacts with clues and puzzles hidden virtually any place, such as websites, libraries, museums, stores, signs, recorded telephone messages, movies, television programs, or printed materials. ARGs are not computer or video games, but electronic devices are frequently used to access clues. Players can meet and talk with characters in the narrative and use resources like postal mail, e-mail, the web, or the public library to find hints, clues, and various pieces of the puzzle. ARGs open doors into the future of students’ professional lives, where they will be expected to solve complex problems by taking necessary raw materials from multiple resources, thinking critically and analytically, and putting their individual skills, interests, and abilities at the disposal of a group dedicated to a common goal.

The “7 Things You Should Know About…” series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use these briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues.

( abstract @ Educause / PDF, 2 pages )

EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT ARGS IS WRONG
By Dan Hon, SixToStart
Exerpt:

This is a re-version of a talk I gave at the Let’s Change the Game conference held on Friday 5 December 2008. It was a very casual, irreverent talk, but one that I hoped would bring some light relief to the day as well as (possibly in a rather confrontational manner) highlight some of the current problems – as I perceive them – with this whole “alternate reality game” business.
(…)
When Adrian kicked off today, he told a nice story about one of the speakers who was excited about presenting today – this was going to be the first talk he’d done where he wouldn’t have to “explain what an ARG was”. This being a conference about ARGs, you’d be pleased to know that no one was going to have to do the whole “this is what an ARG is” thing.

Well, tough luck. I’m going to define an ARG and tell you what one is. I’m going to make this easy and break the phrase “alternate reality game” into smaller chunks so everyone can follow me.

( full presentation @ sixtostart )

WTF IS AN ARG? 2009 EDITION
By Andrea Phillips
Exerpt:

It’s about that time again, boys and girls. The seasonal “What is an ARG?” discussion has flared up on the ARG SIG mailing list. This is the variant strain: What was the first ARG? Which of course leads to a lot of semantic acrobatics as people try to work out what it is we’re describing when we say A-R-G, and then work out whether it’s the same thing anybody else is talking about.

There’s a lot of sense in these discussions, if not a lot of consensus;
(…)
But if all of these clever people can agree so broadly on so many things, why does the topic keep coming up at all? Why can’t we reach a consensus on what an ARG is, and what an ARG isn’t? Why do we return home, like swallows to Capistrano, to that question: What IS an ARG?

( full article @ deusexmachinatio )

THE SERIOUS NEED FOR PLAY
By Melinda Wenner, Scientific American
Exerpt:

Most psychologists agree that play affords benefits that last through adulthood, but they do not always agree on the extent to which a lack of play harms kids—particularly because, in the past, few children grew up without ample frolicking time. But today free play may be losing its standing as a staple of youth. According to a paper published in 2005 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, children’s free-play time dropped by a quarter between 1981 and 1997. Concerned about getting their kids into the right colleges, parents are sacrificing playtime for more structured activities. As early as preschool, youngsters’ after-school hours are now being filled with music lessons and sports—reducing time for the type of imaginative and rambunctious cavorting that fosters creativity and cooperation.

A handful of studies support Brown’s conviction that a play-deprived childhood disrupts normal social, emotional and cognitive development in humans and animals. He and other psychologists worry that limiting free play in kids may result in a generation of anxious, unhappy and socially maladjusted adults. “The consequence of a life that is seriously play-deprived is serious stuff,” Brown says. But it is never too late to start: play also promotes the continued mental and physical well-being of adults.

( full article @ Scientific American )

POACHING LG15: ARG-STYLE…
By Burcu S. Bakioglu
Exerpt:

As a community-based show partially influenced by its audience, one which elicited many stories that emerged as grassroots initiatives that complemented the primary storyline and encouraged collaboration among its fan base, LG15 gave birth to several fan-created Alternate Reality Games(ARGs), a gaming genre that surfaced as an alternative advertising endeavor in 2001 with the appearance of Steven Spielberg’s movie AI. This gaming genre and its effects on story-telling will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter. However, since ARG-like elements became an integral component of LG15, delivering the much-desired interactive experience to the fans, but more importantly, becoming a tool with which the main story of LG15 is poached, this section will discuss the role of the fan-created ARGs on LG15 and discuss why it should be considered as an interactive show, rather than an ARG. Because ARG creators, or puppetmasters, and players were not concerned about generating YouTube views for their spinoffs to get into the LG15 canon, they had the liberty to poach the main plot in unexpected ways and even introduce new characters into the Breeniverse. Being somewhat outside of the control of the LG15 franchise, fan-created ARGs posed a destabilizing threat that needed to be neutralized in some fashion.

( full chapter @ palefirer.com )

ARGS AT MIMA SUMMIT 2008
By Dan Grigsby

( full speech video @ unpossible.com - 1hr presentation )

LITTLE BROTHER (online novel)
By Cory Doctorow, 2007
Blurb:

Marcus, aka “w1n5t0n”, is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works – and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when, having skipped school, he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison, where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state, where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Can one teenage hacker fight back against a government out of control? Maybe, but only if he’s really careful … and very, very smart.

( novel outline / free download sources / hardcover @ Amazon )

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