Late in the afternoon I lurked in the session on “Cross-Media Cross-Pollination: Mashing Up Video Games and ARGs” a panel session with Tony Walsh (Phantom Compass), Dan Hon (Six to Start), Dee Cook (addlepated.net) all people involved with creating top shelf ARGs (look it up yourself).
It seemed the audience was pretty knowledgeable about Alternate Reality Games, and the session covered ground on some of the successes of ones like ilovebees and World Without Oil. The intent was to talk about how what works well in video games can be used in ARGs. There was a bit of discussion about the numbers of players (not remembering exactly) and some questioning about how many of them were active. Someone in the audience wanted to know the business case/benefit for runnning one. Another question was about the implications of ARGs that are so real people think that someone is really missing or in trouble, and what responsible the game makers have (I think the advice was “get legal coverage”).
I decided to venture up and ask a question, admitting I was an “ARG wanna be” and that i was interested in hot implement one on higher education, with potential for teaching problem solving, media literacy, etc. My question was about how to go about it, as the thought of the necessary complexity to create an ARG paralyzed me. “I dont want to create a lame ARG”. First advice, “hire a writer”; then I asked how many people it takes to create one. They did not answer exactly but comapred the budgets to that of a medium scale film production. Sure I thought, thats easy to do if you are a software game maker. Their final advice was to start small (doh) and develop iteratively.
But then I found out there was a great benefit of asking a question, because I talked and got a card from a game software writer and talked to another colleague from North Texas University who was working on an ARG for libraries.
Yes, SXSW can be great for making connections. And going to the parties. And playing the games. And…
I have to say that the sessions I saw in panel format ran very well, no dead space, equal coverage, and good talka nd response with audience.