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TINAG and Failure: In-class ARG Lessons Learned

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Brett Boessen

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of TINAG and Failure: In-class ARG Lessons Learned

TINAG and Failure:
In-class ARG
Lessons Learned

What I Was Up To
From the Air:
"New Media"

"Is Your Pen
New Media
and Social

Lessons Learned

encourage students to participate
(in non-standard assignments and activities)
encourage students to develop:
digital networked media-making
However, we were such novices that it just didn’t work out that way: he uncovered all of our content in one day and left us stumped as to how to continue gracefully before the end of the semester.
We had one player, but it was a lot of fun to develop content for that one player and try to make the experience fun for him.
The students chose the ARG option out of curiosity.

I led the class through the structural aspect, but they produced all the materials and ran the logistics.
On the Ground:
Two Iterations
We focused on developing an ARG that would highlight the ways new media technologies and practices have been both helpful and detrimental to contemporary society. This was left very
The focus this time was on developing an effective ARG using a range of digital networked tools.
Logistics and Details

In addition, students were required to conduct a play-test of in-progress game elements, and then submit a Play-test Report as a group of 3-4 students.
In the Rear-View:
Lessons Learned Reflections
Both assignments were highly experimental
So in anticipation...
A “Lessons Learned” essay
Written/typed, multi-segment essay
Posted to class wiki
How has your experience of the game helped you to understand how new media operate in our


How do the
illuminate, clarify, or complicate your understanding of that experience?
What does your experience suggest for the
of new media?
How well did the project allow you to
the theories of new media we discussed this semester?
Course Content
Experiential Learning
"Once I had examples from the game, that I had participated in hands on, it was way easier to understand all of these readings and put the two together."
"...in our project...we went from being the consumer, to then being a producer."
"our project was like a final collaboration of all of the readings and theories that we had previously learned in class"
"Without New Media this would have taken so much longer and would have been incredibly more difficult to organize, design, etc."
"It wasn’t’ until I wrote this paper that I saw the blatant connections between this project and our readings."
"...it seems as though the American people have become harder to impress. So, despite the fact that we created (in my mind) an impressive game, we simply have to do better than impressive to get anyone to play."
"'Governments, both domestic and international, regulate most media in an attempt to shape or control them or their content' (Pavlik, 71). From this perspective, [the Director of the Campus Center] was acting as [its] government, and he wanted to control the information that was being advertised in public."
"...this was one of the first times it really hit me that the internet is truly responsible for the ease with which our class was able to communicate."
"...it brought to light why we even have a new media class. People are unconscious of the games we play with media everyday."
"...that each person contributes a little to the larger community of information, like the ARG, is essential to the idea of new media, in that one person cannot accomplish everything by himself, that there is a network of people working together."
"Technology wasn’t some excuse for us to ignore the real world, it was our very reason for engaging it in the way that we did."
"...it was new for me to be part of a specific online community that actually had a purpose. I mean I am, of course, a member of the facebook community, but that is just for fun. I’ve never gotten work done through an online page before."
"I really liked the whole idea of this, but I just do not think we realized the amount of work and communication that needed to go into this."
it allowed me to utilize New Media in ways I never expected. In designing a game, I learned just how difficult it is to integrate a narrative into a gameplay space.
"...a project like this is definitely a boon to the learning process, as it allows students to get their hands dirty in ways impossible in other classes."
"...the ARG project is a very worthwhile project. It’s the perfect practical application of the principles and ideas that we are exposed to in the text and in the class-room."
"We learned from our LACK of players...we needed something big to draw people in."
"I really do feel like this game was a healthy learning curve because I never would have had an experience like this if it hadn’t been for this class."
"Was the game a success; no. But it didn’t have to be. We achieved what we set out to do; learn about new media through this ARG."
"...our ARG didn't live up to its full potential, so we were unable to witness many things that might've been present in I Love Bees and other colossal ARGs."
"...one area of life where new media have not infiltrated as much is in college classes"
"Due to our time constraints, it felt like this to be the case, there was just such an upsurge of information coming from different groups that it became difficult for it to be reflected upon by everyone involved."
"With this one player, we were able to continue the game, and continue learning through the process."
"David Weinberger says in “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” that “new worlds create new people.” I think, at this point, the “new world” of new media has created a world of people who take its very existence for granted. That, in part, is why I think our project, ultimately, did not go the way we wanted it to go."
"I don’t believe the game was a success as an ARG. I do think that it was a rather successful learning tool. It forced me to collaborate with an entire class of students more than any other class."
"One can only learn from failure and I believe we’ve all learned a lot from this ARG."
"Players are very smart and we did not completely expect that."
"Sure, three weeks was an outrageously short time to develop and execute an ARG, but I felt it kept us on our toes and kept at least most people interested, because no one knew what was happening next."
"Perhaps we are too quick to assume that we indeed, only did have one player. I think it best (makes me feel better) to say that “Hugh” was the only player that was also an active participant on both blogs."
We worked very hard, but in the end, we only had
one player
AND, he sniffed out all of our puzzles and content in a couple of days.
Teamwork and
Group Dynamics
Frequent Comments
Collective Intelligence
"There was a lack of leadership among the students”
“The online tools (Netvibes, Pbworks) were not used to their fullest potential”
“There was not enough time to implement the project”
"...lack of passion also applies to the ways that we essentially ignored each other and the need for communication outside of class in terms of our use of the Wiki and NetVibes."
"I actually learned more about the way in which leadership (or the lack thereof) can affect a group of people than I did about the actual media that we were using in the class."
"Our whole game revolved around access to the Internet and knowledge of how to navigate through it, so my question is why did it become so difficult when it came to communicating online?"
"I read about these theories, but I actually want to see them in action. This project was a perfect example of how media students can learn these theories from a hands-on experience."
"Though the project frustrated me many times, whether it was because I could not think of a challenge, could not think of a way to improve the story, or became frustrated with someone else’s work, it was very eye-opening to all the hoops one must jump through to complete a project as complex and large as this."
"If we can work collectively this will improve the overall product. However, I can say that our class struggled to work together."
"I’ve noticed that ideas about our game’s ‘failure’ based on collective intelligence have been beaten to death, but I’d like to point out that, though our finished product may not have turned out as planned, our group did indeed use CI in its production."
"...collectively we encountered some serious problems with the direction of the project, but individually and in small groups the work was very good."
"The game that we created did nothing to help me understand collective intelligence because it did not enable me to see collective intelligence in play."
"In terms of the actual game and its concepts...I feel that it was (more or less) a complete disaster."
[In reference to a designers description of good game design] "...our ARG was kind of a failure – although our players were certainly consciously aware that it was a game, it did not in the slightest absorb our players “intensely” or “utterly.”
"In hindsight, I would have tested it differently."
"Students will not work hard on storylines they find stupid and uninteresting."
"Although I had a great experience and I understand the gaming world on a whole new level; I know that new media is not a field I would ever want to work in."
"This project was enlightening and challenging all at the same time. I learned something new each day; whether it was about making puzzles, realizing how much work goes into the story line or just trying to get the class on the same page. This project was more than helpful to me as a new media student."
"...the approach towards pbWorks was not how it should have been to be an effective learning tool towards the use of social networking technologies."
"...while I may not quite be satisfied with the project as a whole, I enjoyed participating in it and would do it again were I to have the time."
Frequent Comments
“not enough time to plan and run it effectively”
“needed more organization/leadership”
“communication between groups lacking”
“lack of multiple entries to the game hurt participation”
“how like spam our fliers seemed to be to students”
Statue from the Air: http://blogging.la/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/sol2.jpg
Statue from the Ground: http://farm1.staticflickr.com/200/445625077_67e5297bbd.jpg
Escape from NY art: http://twi-ny.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/escape.jpg
A-Team: http://epguides.com/ATeam/cast.jpg
Darth Vader: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/685/forcechoke.jpg/sr=1
Space Invaders: http://www.spritestitch.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/spaceinvadersplanshirt02.jpg
2008 Lessons Learned Page: http://acnewmedia08.wetpaint.com/page/Final+Project%3A+Austin+College+Alternate+Reality+Game
2010 Discussion Forum: http://acmediastudies.proboards.com/index.cgi
Be sure you see a
strong connection
between course objectives and assignment structure
Ask yourself: how much
am I willing to devote to this?
Be very careful in making
from iteration to iteration (e.g.: removal of Logistics group).
Which communication
will you use?
Are any linked to course
If inter-personal conflicts arise, how far are you willing to go to
Accept that you won't nail it the first time; have a can-do
about revision
Keep your
for this structure forward in your mind (and consider sharing them with your students)
Build in plenty of opportunities for

A focus on
experiential learning
is key
Be careful
in drawing conclusions too soon (e.g.: making changes based on incomplete evidence)
Full transcript