Sunday, October 11, 2015

Alternative Realities Games and ESL

I've just finished day one of two of KOTESOL International Conference.  Some presentations were better than others but one, though not the best transfer of information seems the most interesting to build on in the next semester.

An Alternative Reality Game has many of the following elements: fictional narrative, interactive, transmedia (takes place in the real world and online in a variety of media), "This is not a game" mentality (don't break character), puzzles and codes.  The 1997 Michael Douglas movie, The Game, is an example and another one is given below.

Oh, the talk was given by Paul Starr of Seoul National University.  He gave a good talk that explained the basics but I don't think it got into the "Participants will then be asked to design some basic ARG elements for their own learning environments." part described in the conference guide.  To be fair, he had a lot to cover in a short time and I did become interested enough in the idea to want to learn more and that's gotta be an indicator of success.

I think I'm at three now:  On the third hand, he also included a code game on his handout so some of us ignored part of his talk to solve his mini game.

I teach various classes at my university and also run voluntary activities at the "English Cafe".  In the past, we've watched The Simpsons -with questions to be answered for a prize, played board games (again with prizes available) and every semester we have a scavenger hunt.  If I can get this going, next semester we will have an ARG instead of the Scavenger Hunt.

As my very first brainstormed ideas, I envision:

  • Some kind of code or QR code in the official class information for ESL students.  Leading to...
  • Posters randomly appearing on campus - at the English Cafe and elsewhere.
  • Interruptions or notices during half-times of sporting events or school festival week.
  • Directions to as many English locations on campus - the library has at least two floors with English hard cover books, the ESL profs' offices, the TOEIC testing room, ....


The big thing lacking is a narrative.  As a sci-fi/ fantasy fan, could it be the signals of a future Dongseo student trapped in time by an experiment in the engineering or medical training spaces?  Or is that too cliche?  Whatever, I want to do this.


ARGs on Dave's ESL Cafe

An old ARG that rests, slowly decaying, online.

Socks incorporated

Alternative Reality Gaming  Network
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Added October 20, 2015: An ARG to celebrate open access week at U of T library.
A concerned group of citizens is investigating a conspiracy hiding facts about the mysterious and controversial past of this masterpiece of brutalist architecture. At the same time a noble, if shadowy, society is working to keep its secrets hidden."
"Led by the University of Toronto libraries, Open Robarts is an alternate reality game celebrating the tensions between open access and the control of information. Designed by local Toronto artist David Oxley and author Mark Foo, Open Robarts explores themes of information and control, and is meant to draw attention to and celebrate open access forGlobal Open Access Week 2015. There are many ways into the game, even for non-locals. 

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