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Mission Nine: Future Games

November 14, 2011 2:45 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Step One: Grade Sheets Distributed

Step Two: In Class Discussion: Augmented Reality

Step Three: Take-home Work

Propose an idea and create a mock-up for an augmented reality game. Consider the examples in this week’s reading and others from around the web.

This task has three parts:

  • Contribute a link (to our links hub) to an interesting Augmented Reality Project, with a description of its unique character
  • Post a pitch describing your proposed augmented reality game to the “Augmented Reality Games”
  • Using Aris, make a mock-up of elements of your ARG. Post screenshots of your game elements to the forum.

Your mock-up should include:

  • At least 3 quests
  • 3 objects with pictures
  • Use of the map for location-based elements

Remember, an augmented reality game should provide a “lens” for viewing the world in a new or unusual way. It may require advanced technology, but it is always spatially anchored. We will work with the Aris framework in class on Wednesday.

Step Four: Continue Work on your Final Project

Don’t forget to sign up for a final project meeting!

Mission Eight: Raid Debriefing

November 7, 2011 3:06 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Gradesheets will be handed out at the start of class. Your midterm grade will be passed out next week, along with an update. The extra credit option for 500 points is still available. If your team would like to pursue the bonus posted during the raid week in light of your grade, you can do so for 1,500 points as a late extra credit.

New this week: nominate someone for an achievement based on their site participation. Have you seen someone create a great group? Contribute above and beyond? Nominate them by emailing me their name and the achievement you believe you deserve. You cannot nominate yourself.

Step One: Reflective Essay

There is no reading quiz today. Instead, reflect on your participation in your team throughout the midterm raid. What did you accomplish personally? What value did you add to the collaborative work? Were there any surprises or obstacles along the way? Think honestly about your role and what you have produced, and write the narrative of your experience. You are responsible for assigning rankings to yourself and your teammates and explaining your reasons.

The rankings:

  • Concept Leader: Assign this ranking to someone who contributed substantially to all elements of the project.
  • Mission Specialist: Assign this ranking to someone who did not necessarily engage with all aspects of the raid, but did complete their assigned portion.
  • Valued Collaborator: Assign this ranking to someone who was involved in all aspects, but never took a strong role in anything.
  • Silent Partner: Assign this ranking to someone who was minimally involved in your team and did not contribute substantially.

You have 25 minutes for this task. Essays should NOT be posted publicly but instead should be sent to anastasia.salter@gmail.com with the email heading “Mission Reflection.” Make sure to include your name at the top.

Step Two: Mission Reports

Present your final game to the class. We should hear from each member of the team on their contributions.

Make sure to address how you answered each aspect of the design challenge and listen attentively to other teams presentations: you should also actively visit their site and provide feedback after the presentation.

Step Three: Badges and Accolades

Vote for your favorite game in three categories:

  • Best Overall
  • Designer Space
  • Creative Concept

Badges (and bonus points) will be awarded to teams who win each achievement. Also, the “Class Artist” achievement is open to anyone who designs original art for all three of these badges.

Step Four: At-Home Tasks

Open Forum Week: After the structured mission last week, it’s time to prepare to pursue your own projects. This week, consider both your opinions on his concepts and your own ideas for a final project. Your project must involve building, manipulating, evaluating, interpreting, playing and otherwise prodding at social media networks, games and tools.  Post your final project ideas, or current news and ideas you’ve observed that relate to class discussions. Conversations should take place in the COSC 407 Forum under the heading “Final Project Brainstorming.” These posts are due by the start of class on 11/14!

Raid Mission: Design an ARG

October 26, 2011 3:12 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Step One: Choose Your Team

Each raid team *must* include 4-5 people. Ideally, your team will include one member of every suggested class.

Already declared for instance:

Team One

  • Raid Leader – @halflingbarbarian
  • Builder – @laserpointer
  • Designer – @taralqua
  • Writer – @dzl24
  • Writer – @orlock723

Team Two

  • Raid Leader: @velocistar
  • Builder: @nomonyxs
  • Designer: @joyeux
  • Writer: @jcage
  • Designer/builder: @joncausith64

Team Three

  • Raid Leader: @deadmanwalking
  • Builder: @skim321
  • Builder: @bazzodee
  • Designer: @blarg
  • Writer: @student007

Team Four

  • Raid Leader: @zachpower
  • Builder: @matador
  • Designer: @ballzac
  • Writer: @sephistrife

Team Five

  • Raid Leader: @w35k5r
  • Builder: @comradespade21
  • Designer: @shadowkitsune
  • Writer: @iskander
  • Designer/Writer: @mmrichter

Team OPSynergy

  • Raid Leader: @unclegun
  • Writer: @beanburrito
  • Designer: @orez
  • Designer: @glowingweakspot
  • Builder: @pezz
Team Traveler

It is your responsiblity to form and declare a team.

You’ll need to create a group for completed documents from your team. You can collaborate anywhere on the site you want throughout your process, but all final documents MUST go to your team’s forum. The raid leader should send me a message every time a document is complete.

In Class: Team Building – Brainstorming

With your team, you will be given time to plan for the raid today. The Raid Leader is responsible for posting the completed brainstorming and the handles of all team members participating in your group’s forum under the heading “Brainstorming,” and notifying me of completion.

Midterm Raid: The Design Challenge

Your team is charged with designing an apocalypse-inspired Alternate Reality Game. This is intended to be a proof-of-concept ARG that you can show to potential future comments to show your skill with melding reality and gaming in a way that blends a range of social media and experiences.

Your game should:

  • Reflect and acknowledge real-world future concerns as viewed through your own creative lens
  • Use a clear narrative or metaphor with a progressive storyline
  • Require  player creativity, puzzle-solving and collaborative growth
  • Show a plan for making good use of social media throughout

Remember the models you’ve seen. You will need to:

  • Write a game design document
  • Explain your intentional engagement with potential players’ motivation and cognitive surplus
  • Design an engaging rabbit hole
  • Plan for social media use and progression
  • Reflect on the results of your own collaboration

Midterm Raid Task One: The Game Design Document

As a team produce a 1-2 page document explaining your plan for meeting the raid objectives. The team Designer should take point on this task.

Make sure to include all the basic information about your game, including:

  • Game Title
  • Short game description
  • Apocalypse scenario
  • Structure / media
  • Rabbit hole
  • Creative Action
  • Rewards
  • Social Elements

The Raid Leader is responsible for notifying me through direct message when the design document is available. While the document is not due until the end of the raid, submit earlier for feedback! No feedback will be given for design documents submitted after November 3rd at Midnight. 

Midterm Raid Task Two: Cognitive Surplus Analysis

As a team produce a 2-3 page document engaging with Clay Shirky and/or Jane McGonigal’s work. How does your design relate to the motive, means, and opportunity for creative work that Shirky described? How does your game make use of alternate reality to create engagement and encourage meaningful collaboration in accordance with (or defiance of) Jane McGonigal’s work? Use specific examples (quotes with PAGE NUMBERS) cited from the reading to support your claims. You can also draw on other readings from the semester thus far to explain how your game will function. The team Writer should take point on this task.

The raid leader is responsible for notifying me through direct message when this document has been agreed upon by all members.

This document is due at the end of the raid: November 7th at 12:30 pm, before the start of class.

Midterm Raid Task Three: Prototype Space

As a team you are responsible for building a working prototype of your game space. You must build enough material to demonstrate how your ARG will work.

The team Builder should take point on this task. Your game space will be judged at the end of the raid: November 7th at 12:30 pm

You have several options for building your space, and if you want to request a BuddyPress space (like this site is built on) to create the community for your ARG, I will host it for you. Your team Raid Leader can request it through direct message by November 4th at midnight. You can also host your space on your own website (on the IAT student server or elsewhere) or keep it on your own computer and provide me with the files, using screenshots on your team’s page.

Your space should include a complete Rabbit Hole:

  • An introductory video/audio/play/puzzles or some other hook to start the game
  • Clues and design elements pointing to the larger theme
  • A clear organization / entity / event that provides the alternate reality apocalypse set-up
AND a plan for the rest of the game:
  • At least three puzzle elements (for any stage of the game) and a plan for how players will reach these markers
  • A social media-based plan for creating interaction between ARG “characters” (controlled by the design team) and players

Be as inventive and ambitious as you like with planning: you can plan structures for location-based games, film video introductions, design characters and mock-ups for fake Twitter accounts and FaceBook pages, brainstorm ideas for integration of phone and other communications, and make use of other clues that might already be scattered on the web. Your final build plan should give us a coherent impression of how your game will work and its apocalypse-themed narrative and design. You do not need to build all these structures out, but indicate how you would get there.

Midterm Raid Task Four: Reflection and Playtesting

A debriefing will take place in class on November 7th. There will be opportunities to show off your ARG raid games and take us through the rabbit hole along with a short-in class essay reflecting on your individual contributions so you can explain to me the role you played in the collaboration and any additional obstacles encountered by your raid team.

Midterm Raid Evaluation

Halfway through the raid mission, a bonus task will unlock that a team can opt in to for a set number of points. Bonus points from that task can be applied to any part of each team member’s grade.

Achievements will be awarded by peer evaluation for:

  • Best Overall
  • Designer Space
  • Creative Concept
Along with additional hidden achievements that will be rewarded for special accomplishments or “feats of strength.”
Grades will be out of 30 points:
  • 3 pts brainstorming
  • 7 pts design document
  • 10 pts analysis / theory document
  • 10 pts game space (including rabbit hole)
Based on adherence to the above criteria. The raid itself is worth 15% of your grade.

Mission Seven: Gameful Realities

October 17, 2011 3:20 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Step One: Tool Time

Be prepared to share the concept for the social creativity tool you collaborated on last week.

Step Two: Gameful

In Class Discussion: Gameful and Evoke

Step Three: ARG Research

Choose an alternate reality game from the list at ARGNet or your own research to play and observe. Using ARGNet, ThinkTransmedia, and Jane McGonigal’s work as a reference point, examine the ARG and report back on the COSC 407 forum. Answer the following questions about your ARG:

  • What is the “rabbit hole”? How does the game draw you in?
  • Is there a community aspect?
  • How do you progress?
  • What other stories is the ARG tied to?
  • What social media does the ARG use to tell its story?

Step Four: Choose Your Class

The raid is an extended collaborative challenge that draws upon a range of skills and is best completed by a balanced team. On the “Raid Class Roles” forum in the Metagames group, indicate which role(s) you are best suited to take from the possible classes below.

  • Raid Leader: To be eligible for this role, you must have achieved the minimum rank of “Scribe” (500 points) by the start of class on October 24th. The Raid Leader is responsible for keeping the group organized and making sure all mission objectives are met. The Raid Leader will also be in charge of contacting me if any group member fails to complete their assigned responsibilities. The  best Raid Leaders are also comfortable taking a support position for any of the other classes.
  • Builder: The Builder is comfortable picking up new tools and interfaces quickly. While the Raid is not programming intensive, a Builder who can take responsibility for working with basic web production will be essential to creating prototypes of game elements.
  • Designer: The Designer ideally has an artistic background or comfort with user interface designs and needs. The Designer should work closely with the Builder to prototype their way through Midterm Raid hurdles.
  • Writer: The Writer is responsible for taking content brainstormed collectively and bringing the textual elements of the group together. The writer should be confident in their mastery of the powers of spelling and grammar check.

Step Five: Form Your Team

Each group should have 4 to 5 members and must have one Raid Leader. Once your team is formed, send me a message listing the names and roles of all team members.

Mission Seven is due at the start of class October 24th.

Urgent: Class Cancelled

October 12, 2011 1:26 pm in Missions by Anastasia

I’ve just returned from the doctor this morning, and I have a highly contagious respiratory infection. Rather than spread the misery, I am cancelling class today.

This means:

  • Keep up with the reading
  • Continue discussing McGonigal’s Reality is Broken on the forums (at least 3 thoughts total)
  • The Mission Six deadline (for all parts of the mission, as described below) is extended to Monday, October 17th.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and I’ll see you all next week.

Mission Six: Tools of Production

October 3, 2011 2:40 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Step One: Using Your Cognitive Surplus

Watch: Clay Shirky: How Social Media can Make History


Step Two: Tool Time (or, Amateur Hour)

Consider a playful (perhaps “gamified”) social tool you could create to make a type of amateur production easier and more accessible. Try not to duplicate any existing tools, but instead look for an original niche (consider the LOLCat builder as an example). With your group of AT MOST four members, create a group on the site advertising your planned tool and the ways it will improve people’s social production. Brand your space with an original image as a group logo and make sure to include:

  • A description of what the tool does and what social role it fills
  • An explanation of the procedural literacy necessary to use the tool
  • Mock-ups and examples of the interface or outcomes of the tool
  • An argument for the value of the tool for social media and games
  • A discussion of the motivations the tool provides users: why build?
We will start this in-class, and share the final concepts on October 12th. Note that there is no class in-person on October 10th: use the time to continue building your ideas.
Step Three: At-home Tasks – Choose Two
  • Create your own LolCat around a social media or games theme. Submit it to icanhascheezburger.com and share it on our site–you can even give the LOL Builder a try. While you’re at it, think about the appeal of an archive like this. Why has the LOLCat phenomenon been so persistent?
  • What are examples of tools that allow people to move easily from the role of consumer to producer? Are there any free production tools you use regularly that have allowed for new social communities or content produced by amateurs? Tell us about them on the COSC 407 forum.
  • Propose an achievement or mission for the ongoing class game: if proposing a mission, make sure it relates to either this week’s readings or an upcoming theme. Post your ideas in the Metagame group.
  • Challenge Task: Clay Shirky points out that new tools allow anyone to publish. One such tool is xtranormal, a program for going from “type to video” that allows for a new type of YouTube hit. Try out the xtranormal tool and create a video that addresses social games in some way. You might stage an imaginary debate between a hardcore gamer and a social gamer, or envision a rehab session for  a Farmville addict. Got the start of an idea but not the time to build the video on your own? Find a collaborator or two and create it together.

Mission Five: Our Cognitive Surplus

September 26, 2011 1:41 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Step One: Reading Quiz

There is a one-question reading quiz today at: Reading Quiz Three. Please make sure you are logged in before completing the quiz. As always, the quiz will be available for the first 15 minutes of class.

Step Two: Pitch Your “Game”

Be prepared to share the rules and results of the “gamified” experience you collaborated on this week. Remember to include:

  • A discussion of how you’ve enhanced the task
  • A clear description of how to implement your “gamification”
  • The feedback system and rewards structure

Step Three: Debating Gamification, Clicking Cows

Step Four: Scavenger Hunt

For this week’s at home task, find unusual and interesting examples of at least two of the following forms that Shirky discusses in this week’s readings:

  • Digital Folk Art
  • Fan Fiction
  • Write-in “Activism” (ala Hank for People.com’s Most Beautiful Person)
  • Remixed Video
  • Social Production
  • Wikis

Share your find with a detailed analysis considering the motivation, feedback, content and intertextuality of the object in question. Imagine that you are looking at it like an anthropologist of internet culture might if visiting from the future: why does this object exist? What does it say about its creators? Its audience? Include your observations in the “Scavenger Hunt” topic on the COSC 407 forum.

Step Five: Reflect on Readings

Participate in these two discussion prompts:

  • Clay Shirky writes that we have more free time than ever–but how do you spend yours? Try installing RescueTime, an automated tool for tracking time usage on the computer, or using another system for monitoring your time usage. Use it throughout the week and report on your experiences in the COSC 407 forums on the cognitive surplus.
  • Discuss the shift from “audience” to “participant” in terms of your own experience with social spaces on the COSC 407 forums. Consider how games and social media have made even passive experiences (like watching a TV show such as Lost) into interactive ones. How does this change our expectations of traditionally passive experiences?

Mission Four: Gamify Your World

September 19, 2011 1:45 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Step One: Check In

First grade report will be based on your participation in Missions 1-3, and the guidelines for exchanging points will be made available.

Step Two: Reporting on Twitter

Step Three: In Class Design Exercise

In teams, discuss the concept of pervasive gaming experiences that exploit your social network and make use of micropayments. Pitch an idea for creating a game that follows these models for Twitter, using what we’ve discussed of social media theory. Your game idea should be situated on the foundation of an existing social network and consider innovative ways for using the connections and data that network makes available to you. (Post your idea in the Twitter group). Be prepared to pitch your idea in class and explain how you make use of the characteristics unique to the Twitter ecosystem: for instance, hashtags, the text-based exchanges, following, etc.

Step Four: Mission Gamification

This week’s mission is team-based. You will need to complete the first tasks individually and later as a group: all tasks are mandatory. This is a practice run for the Midterm Raid.

At-Home Task One: Observation

Watch Jesse Schell’s GamificationTalk and consider the model of gamification he presents. Observe “gamification” in the wild and report back on your findings in the Metagames forums. Think about Gamification as it exists in both “good” and “bad” implementations–and in the contexts we’re exploring through this course. How does The Unidentified play with the concept of gamification?

At-Home Task Two: Research and Report

Check out the issue of the Game Studies journal on Game Reward Systems. Pick an article to read and report back on the COSC 407 forums, considering:

  • The article’s thesis
  • Key points on which you agree / disagree
  • The centrality of the rewards system to the game experience under examination
  • The relationship argued between rewards and player motivations
  • The connection from this article to one of the assigned readings for this week. Make your connection explicit in the discussion.

Create a forum topic with the name of the article. If there is already a forum topic for the article you’re reading, join that discussion and continue the article analysis.

At-Home Task Three: Gamify Your World

Consider a task you engage in that is productive but not engaging on rewarding. Examples include routines, like the toothbrushing example from Schell’s video, or process like getting a licence renewed at the MVA. Pick something small enough that you can feasibly make a plan for every stage and context. Pitch the task you think is worth gamifying in the Gamification group. Don’t have an idea? Go find and comment on others’ pitches.

Find a group of three to four people to support your idea and make a plan for the process. This plan should include the rewards system, meaningful engagement, and deployment system for your game model–and should be doable without specialized technology or equipment. The entire plan must be agreed upon as a group and posted as a detailed rules set for “playing” the game of your task. Make sure your rules are clear to others and could be potentially picked up, in context, and “played.”

For the best score: either “show” us the play context of your game in a creative way (video, art, photography, Prezi…) or take someone else’s rules set and try playing their game, with documentation. (Groups who inspire the most “players” to try and document their challenge through narrative or pictures of game scorecards, etc. will win an achievement).

Mission Three: Ideas and Social Networks

September 12, 2011 1:33 pm in Missions by Anastasia

Step One:

Watch the Diary of the Dead trailer

Step Two:

In-Class Discussion

Are social networks subversive? Or corporate? What ideas and “learning” do they encourage? (The Unidentified)
Step Three: Twitter
This week, there is one mandatory task: experience Twitter. There are four options for taking on this task:

Option One: Join as Yourself
If you have never used Twitter, but want to try using it for game industry related content, try joining the network as yourself. You can set your updates to private if you are concerned about adjusting to the environment.

Option Two: Join as a Fictional Character
If you would prefer to experience Twitter as a space for play, join as a fictional character. You could consider creating a Hulk or another persona based on the topics of this class. This is also a good option for experienced Tweeps–see if you can establish a presence with this account. Some good examples are HulkGameCrit and LordVoldemort7.

Option Three: Extend Your Network
If you are already on Twitter, suggest important industry figures for others to follow and mentor others in the etiquette of Twitter. You can share your username and find one another on Twitter using the Twitter Experience forum in the COSC 407 group on the site.
Option Four: Observe from Afar
If you don’t want to join Twitter for personal or professional reasons, watch the trending topics and dialogues from the perspective of a non-participant. How does the dialogue of Twitter extend? Who participates?

You should also complete at least two of these tasks and report back on the forums:
  • Play Echo Bazaar – form a group, find classmates on Twitter playing, and report back on your experiences. Is this more or less invasive than the Facebook API for gaming?
  • Share your “Twitter-sized” thoughts on The Unidentified Part Two and Three
  • Play Twitapocalypse and report back – does this change the way you think about Twitter? Is this a social or antisocial game?
  • Join (or observe) a hashtag chat and share your experiences
  • Check your Klout score and actively try to raise or change it. Can the system be “gamed”? Share your thoughts ad score on the forum.

Remember to document and discuss all these activities on the forums!

Mission Two: Our Social Networks

September 7, 2011 2:56 pm in Missions by Anastasia

By now, you should be comfortable with the class game space and ready to try some more advanced and collaborative missions. It’s also possible to embed content from YouTube, Flicker, and many other sites directly into your posts by including the URL. There are more questions waiting to be answered in your profiles based on ideas suggested throughout the week.

This week’s mission closes at 12:30 on Monday, September 12th.

Step One: In-Class Discussion

Step Two: Readings

 Step Three: Online Discussion

Contribute to both of this week’s discussions:

Topic One: Discuss your reactions to the social media presented as you begin to read The Unidentified. Post at least three thoughts or reactions to others’ posts prior to next week’s meeting. You might consider “live-blogging” some of your analysis or ideas that rise from the reading. All posts should be in the COSC 407: Unidentified Part One Forum.

Topic Two: Discuss your thoughts on learning through play. What is your experience with learning through games or social networks? What do you think of the argument in the “Play Power” article that “the division between work and play is a myth”? All posts should be in the Metagame: Learning through Play Forum.

Step Four: Forming Community

Participate in or form another interest group within the site. Use the opportunity to create the character of this social network: think about our discussion of how networks reflect identity. Want something else to be possible here, or have a thought for something you’d like to study? Post it in the Metagame group.