Experimental Game Dev Interviews
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  • The Development of the I’m Sorry Alternate Reality Game

    Posted on August 27th, 2009 IndieGamePod No comments

    Brian, from the I’m Sorry ARG, talks about developing this ARG from his written novel

    You can download the podcast here…
    http://www.indiegamepod.com/podcasts/arg-iamsorry-interview.mp3

    Or listen to it here…


    Show Notes:
    Interviewer: I’m here at the ARG Fest and with me today is a special guest. How about you introduce yourself?

    Brian: Brian Bricker, writer for the I’m Sorry ARG.

    Interviewer: What’s that ARG about?

    Brian: Oh, boy, it’s about everything. It’s a mixture of a novel with a real unique interaction with live events and live people. Beyond that, you’ll have to look at it to see what more it’s about.

    Interviewer: How did you go about designing this ARG?

    Brian: You know, actually, it sort of happened on its own. I wrote the novel for it and had done a lot of the writing, but much of the interaction has been from the players themselves and some others much smarter than me.

    Interviewer: You talked about writing a novel. Was the novel specifically geared towards making an ARG, or did you write a normal novel and then adapt it to an ARG?

    Brian: Actually, the novel was written long before there was even the idea of an ARG, and so it was adapted then.

    Interviewer: What inspired you to adapt it? Why did you think it was worthwhile to adapt to an ARG type format?

    Brian: You know, again, it just lent itself to that sort of environment, and it just naturally kind of flowed to wanting there to be an interaction with the audience on that particular novel that you just can’t get from publishing in the standard way.

    Interviewer: What are some of the challenges you faced then as you ran this ARG and some of the issues or controversy or anything that popped up?

    Brian: Well, the controversy, by definition, is it really blurred the lines between reality and fiction and still does. There’s a segment of the ARG player base that really likes to know where that line is and keep that line in sight at all times while they are experiencing it. And it really is actually aimed more towards those who like the free fall of not really knowing what’s real and what’s not, and really not knowing what each day will bring.

    Interviewer: Can you give a specific example of the controversial issue or some of the issues that popped up as you’re doing this ARG?

    Brian: Well, sure, there have been several puppet masters that turned out were not actually puppet masters. There’s a lot of convoluted starting and stopping of the game. At one point due to copyright issues the entire post was actually taken down off of the forum that it was on. So, there’s things that people aren’t really sure are part of the experience or not. So, those are some good examples of that.

    Interviewer: How many other people do you have to work with to get this ARG going and keep going and stuff like that?

    Brian: Well, you know, this one, it’s a rotating number of people that work on it, but really it starts with one person and an idea or a vision, and then it can grow from an independent one to, maybe, seven or eight people working in different areas. And then, for the commercial it’s, obviously, potentially much larger.

    Interviewer: Knowing what you know now, how would you design your ARGs differently?

    Brian: You know, I would say that the only difference, I think, would be in giving the player base a little more privacy in certain areas just because when they don’t feel safe in discussing something, they do tend to hide and discuss things privately. It makes it harder for others to really catch up on what’s going on. I think that’s the biggest frustration, not from the point of view of running the game but from the point of view of not wanting people who are lurking or coming in later on to not really be able to get an idea of what’s going on with it.

    Interviewer: Where do you see ARG is going in the future then?

    Brian: You know, honestly, I really see it moving from what is currently kind of a fringe market into mainstream, probably physical experience type entertainment where you could actually sign up to do-if you want to be on a SWAT team or you want to be a movie star or anything. You could actually, physically sign up for an experience that for a price you could actually live that experience out. I see them getting away from the game element or, at least, evolving from the game element into a lot more of a theme park type of event.

    Interviewer: Or an ARG type thing where you kind of level up to be an actor or whatever.

    Brian: Well, I mean, sure. I think there always is going to be a market for the ARG with this sort of format, but I do think it’s definitely going to grow. Somebody is going to figure out the pay for play model that works and just give a lot more content and a lot more physical interaction that’s going to bring it into a lot more of a real entertainment marketplace.

    Interviewer: Do you think the value then is the physical interaction or the social interaction between the players? Where do you think the real value is going to come out in the future?

    Brian: You know, honestly, I think that the biggest benefit is the players own experiences in what they are getting. I don’t see the community that forms around the ARGs as being as important as the experiences that each individual player gets. If you were to have a physical type of ARG, there’s a lot of physical interaction and live events, the community aspect of it, I think, would not be quite as important as what you gear towards the people that are actually experiencing it.

    Interviewer: What’s next in store for the ARGs that you’re going to work on? Anything announced?

    Brian: You know, actually, there’s one that I’m thinking about now that we’ve already done some pre-planning on that goes in a completely different direction than what the I Am Sorry one does. And then, beyond that, who knows?

    Interviewer: If people want to find out more information about the I Am Sorry ARG, where can they go?

    Brian: Really, the best place at this point is to go to the unfiction forums. There’s definitely a pretty lengthy thread on there now that takes it from the beginning all the way up to where it is right now and then through to the conclusion. That’s really the best place where one concise location for everything involved.

    Interviewer: Thank you very much.

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