Szulborski, D. (2005) This Is Not A Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming (2nd Digital Edition), Lulu, Available at: http://www.lulu.com/content/99444
Dave Szulborski’s book is the first dedicated to the genre of ALG – Alternate Reality Gaming. ALG works are usually distributed across websites and real-life mediums such as fax machines and telephones. The pivotal trait of these works however is TING or TINAG (This Is Not A Game): the repudation of any game or fantastical aspect of the work. It is designed to be REAL, to be immersive. Here are some sites on the subject: ARGN, unfiction, Cloudmakers. Szulborski’s book (now available as low-priced digital editions with a free chapter download) seems a well-written treatment of the genre. Ludology and Narratology are addressed, games discussed (Szulborski has worked on many ARGs) and guidleines are offered for designers. Good stuff.
On the same thread is Adrian Hon’s article, The Reality Artifices, on the prefiguring of ARGs. He refers to Orson Well’s War of the Worlds — a work Drew Davidson has addressed in The
Journey of Narrative: The story of Myst across two mediums. Jill Walker has also recognised the heritage of such immersive traits.
Hon, A. (2005) ‘The Reality Artificers’, massive, [Online] Available at: http://www.mssv.net/archives/000665.shtml
From those looking back to the foundations of current emerging storytelling trends to those looking at the present and future: Jim Miller. Exocog: A case study of a new genre in storytelling is Miller’s meditation on his own cross-media work and the implications for future storytelling:
[W]hat is significant in this experiment is the balance between the opportunities that arise from the new technologies and the things that stay the same. This evolutionary process is still underway, but enough has happened to make this a reasonable time to look around and think about where this combination of technology and the creative arts is today, and where it might go tomorrow.
The article is a very helpful piece that includes, for example, the techniques he used to lead players across websites:
- Content ambiguity
- Cross-event integration
- Storytelling by puzzles
- Information hiding
- Out-game property manipulation
Miller, J. (2004) ‘Exocog: A case study of a new genre in storytelling’, Miramontes Studios, [Online] Available at: http://www.miramontes.com/studios/exocog/
On the academic side is Lizbeth Klastrup and Susana Tosca’s paper on Transmedial Worlds. Klastrup and Tosca look at how storyworlds are engineered to be transmedial. TMW are described as:
[A]bstract content systems from which a repertoire of fictional stories and characters can be actualized or derived across a variety of media forms. What characterises a transmedial world is that audience and designers share a mental image of the ?worldness? (a number of distinguishing features of its universe). The idea of a specific world?s worldness mostly originates from the first version of the world presented, but can be elaborated and changed over time. Quite often the world has a cult (fan) following across media as well.
Klastrup and Tosca refer to Henry Jenkins ‘transmedia storytelling’ and Marie-Laure Ryan’s ‘transmedial narrative’, stating that their foci is on the abstract elements and not the medial expressions. They recommend a balance between defining the transmedial world and allowing players to create their own content. This is a helpful analysis of how the transmedial elements can be consistently evoked and managed.
Klastrup, L. and S. Tosca (2004) ‘Transmedial worlds – rethinking cyberworld design’ presented at Proceedings International Conference on Cyberworlds 2004, IEEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos, California, published by Klastrup Cataclysms [Online] Available at: http://www.itu.dk/people/klastrup/klastruptosca_transworlds.pdf [pdf]
That is it for now. Enjoy!