Tag Archives: Game

Alternate Reality Games

I’ve recently gotten involved in a “new” type of game: The Alternate Reality Game. New, in that it’s still fairly niche. ARGs have existed for a while and are slowly gaining in popularity. I heard about them some years ago but never actually participated, and that’s changing now (well, within the limits that my time allows for).

An ARG is basically a mixture between a puzzle game and a scavenger hunt. The organizers – the so-called “Puppet masters” – invent a plot and leave a trail of clues and riddles for the players to unravel. By its nature, these games are “viral”, and players organize themselves on forums etc to work on the clues and riddles together. The ARG is used a lot as a viral marketing tool, most famously a campaign run for the Cloverfield move. Another was the “I love Bees” campaign to promote Halo 2.

ARGs are not the same as viral marketing, however. Alternate Reality Games do not try to trick consumers into believing a falsehood. While the ARG pretend that they are not games – “This Is Not A Game” is the ARG mantra and part of their design aesthetic – it will acknowledge its artificial and fictional nature, usually by using obviously fictitious elements. An Alternate Reality Game has more in common with Live Action Role Playing Games, except there is no set rules system, and people do not have to meet, dress up, etc. Also, where the Game Masters are quite obviously present in LARPs, they are hidden behind “The Curtain” in an Alternate Reality Game.

What makes an ARG so interesting, to me, is that they weave an interactive story to a possibly fairly large audience, limited pretty much only by how much money and effort is put in. They seem to be an excellent method to build a community. ARGs are fairly intense experiences, and even when they reach a smaller target audience, this audience has a much more intimate contact with the material in the game.

Links to get you started on Alternate Reality Games:

  • ARGNet – news source for ARGs
  • Unfiction – Community site for ARG players and organizers

I would love to run an ARG some day, though my location in Germany and the fact that I am not a native speaker are hindrances. The ARG scene in Germany seems to be very limited.

CD Cover Game #9: Cliffside

Here’s my latest entry to the CD-Cover game – I haven’t posted these in a while. And, before you ask: #8 is not missing, but the licensing of the base image I used changed so it’ll have to wait until I clear that up.

Cliffside: The Best Accessory
Cliffside: The Best Accessory

Original Art: Senales, by José María Pérez Nuñez; cc-by-nc.

From the looks of it, Cliffside is probably an “artsy” band…

My other CD-Covers:

 

CD Cover Game #7: Eryx Elegans

Here’s another attempt at the CD cover game:

Eryx Elegans, 'Run Away From Life'

I actually edited the photo in question this time; if you look at the original you will see a woman in the photo which really distracted from the composition:

Original Photo
Original Photo

Yes – it is quite easy to see the photo was edited, but after all this is not an exercise in forging photographic evidence 🙂

To critique my own work, the speech bubble is probably a little too dominant and the “band name” logo colors might not mesh perfectly with the rest of the image.

Original photo: Feliz 2009, by murilocardoso. Licensed cc-by-nc-sa.

CD Cover Game #6: Kryoneri

I needed another music group to refer to in my NaNoWriMo novel. It had to be something beachy, and hence, Kryoneri was born.

Kryoneri, 'Pleased with Themselves'

I cheated on the CD Cover game, and used one of my own photos. Searching flickr for a cc-licensed photo simply seemed like a waste of my time when I had a couple of appropriate photos sitting around. The one I used was taken on Bali.

Here’s the – admittedly fairly random – track list for the album:

  1. Legends of Bora Bora
  2. California Beach Queen
  3. Sand and Sun
  4. Memories of Coral Reef
  5. Sailing through Paradise
  6. Spanish Main
  7. Land of a Million Islands
  8. Surfing the Waves
  9. Torchlight Tranquility
  10. Bali Sunset
  11. Moon over Waikiki

Update: Version 2 of the cover.

Kryoneri, 'Pleased with Themselves' - Version 2

I like this 2nd one better, I think.

CD Cover Game #5: Brockville Park

I needed a band to refer to in my NaNoWriMo novel, and none of the ones I “created” for the CD Cover Game so far seemed to be appropriate. So I cheated a little on #5, and repeated the Wikipedia random thing until I had a band name that sounded like an alternative rock group.

Brockville Park, 'Even My Own Mother'

I kind of like the basic design. Someone should start making crossword puzzles based on hexagons.

“Even My Own Mother” is the debut album of local newcomer band Brockville Park’s, and its catchy beat has catapulted it top the top of the charts. Tracks:

  1. Voyage of the Navigator
  2. Saint Brendan City Blues
  3. When Worlds Collide
  4. Slaver – Hero
  5. Forbidden Candy
  6. Ballad of the Apple
  7. Even My Own Mother
  8. Go! (Away!)
  9. Melon Tree
  10. Sheltered
  11. M Stands For Witten
  12. The Price of Admiralty
  13. Fall Out Four The Rest Of Us (Bonus)

Original photo by Ecstaticist, cc-by-nc-sa.

CD Cover Game #4: Kolonia Zerechowa

Kolonia Zerechowa, the Polish African American rap group known for its biting social commentary, has released their latest album: Steal with good Judgment.

Kolonia Zerechowa, 'Steal with good Judgement'

The controversial album contains tracks critical of the Church, making numerous references to recent scandals and the Church’s violent history in the middle ages. The track “Wallet Salvation” openly attacks American television preachers. Religious groups across America have condemned the album as “lies” and its many sexual references as “sinful”. The band has reacted cooly to the complaints, stating that “the truth always hurts such people the most”.

Original photo by mikedefiant, cc-by-nc-sa.

The Revised CD-Cover Game

Here are the revised rules to the CD-Cover game. I found it originally on Pedro’s blog, but I had to change them slightly. If anybody else wants to play, let me know – I’d love to see your creations!

The rules:

1. Go to the Wikipedia random article page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random). The title of the article is your band name. (For a twist, use the Special:Random page of an alternate language version of Wikipedia.)

1. Go to the very last quote on random quotations (www.quotationspage.com/random.php3). The last four words of the last quote are your album title. You may opt to use only three words, if that improves the quote. (For example, I got the quote “To sway an audience, you must watch them as you speak.”, by C. Kent Wright. “Them as you speak” sounds pretty stupid. “As you speak” makes for a much better album title!) You are not allowed to use more than four or less than three words, and you may not change any of them.

1. Go to Flickr’s “interesting photos from the last seven days” page (www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/). Use the first photo that allows you to legally use and modify it (“All rights reserved” is out!). You may have to reload this page multiple times.

Flickr does provide a page that filters for a Creative Commons license (www.flickr.com/creativecommons/), but for our purpose this isn’t very useful: There is little randomness, and the photos include completely useless ones like photos of text. The method in rule#3 is much better, even if it takes a while to find a photo under an appropriate license.

My covers so far:

You’ll find new covers under the CD Covers tag.

CD Cover Game #2: Duke of Bourbon

Months ago I saw the CD cover game on Pedro’s blog. I had posted my first cover to my personal blog, but since I have moved all my arts and design stuff here, I figured I’d include this here, too. Especially since I can easily get away with saying that these are album covers from the world Terra, and not our own. Hey – instant world design.

Duke of Bourbon, "As Possible, All Things"
Duke of Bourbon, "As Possible, All Things"

I actually do like the CD cover game. It’s a quick thing to do (the above took me about ten minutes including looking for a photo on flickr that I was actually allowed to use) and you gotta come up with something based on pre-made elements, which is always a nice exercise in creativity.

Original photo by Thomas Hawk, cc-by-nc.