A comparison with, and augmentation of, known social interaction patterns in gamesIn 2005, Staffan Bjork and Jussi Holopainen published their book, Patterns in Game Design. The book outlines the range of choices designers have when developing a game, any game. In one section they list 30 types of patterns for social interaction in games. That is: game design techniques to facilitate social interaction. They cluster these 30 options into four categories:
"Games with high social interaction often rely on the players to be able to collaborate and not only to compete against each other. The following patterns describe some of the possibilities and incentives for the players to achieve things in the game together. Often the most interesting social interaction is achieved when both competition and collaboration are present in the game." (p. 245)
|COOPERATION||"Players cooperate, i.e., coordinate their actions and share resources, in order to reach goals or subgoals of the game." (page. 245)||Cooperation is the primary incentive for social interaction in ARGs. How do developers facilitate cooperation?
A key trait of ARGs is their 'tiered' nature. You can use another name for it, but that is the term I use to describe the dividing of content to different player groups (and even individuals). What tiering does is make players dependent on each other, and also ensures they share duties (ie: take turns in contributing to the game).
GEOGRAPHIC TIERING: challenges are issued in different locations, facilitating players to share what they have in order to reach a subgoal and keep the game progressing.
Example: I Love Bees (42 Entertainment, 2004)
The players answered payphone calls in over 50 states in eight countries.
Example: The Lost Experience (ABC, Channel 4, Yahoo!7, 2006)
Unique clues were distributed to players by the ABC in the US, Yahoo!7 in Australia and Channel Four in the United Kingdom.
Example: Vanishing Point (42 Entertainment, 2007)
Although Vanishing Point is not necessarily regarded as an ARG, it is worth noting the clues were distributed at live events in Washington, California, Canada, England, Germany, Singapore, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Australia and Nevada.
LANGUAGE TIERING: challenges are issued in different languages, facilitating players sharing translations in order to reach a subgoal and keep the game progressing.
Example: Legend of the Sacred Urns (GMD Studios, Haxan, Wieden + Kennedy, 2004)
This ARG, created for Sony, had unique content issued in French, Spanish, US Spanish, UK English, German, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese.
Example: The Lost Ring (McGonigal, Akqa, 2008)
The ARG is multi-lingual, with characters speaking different languages: Chinese, Esperanto, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. The English language players have called on multi-lingual players to help with the translations.
|Collaborative Actions||“Compound actions that require several players to simultaneously perform actions.” (CD-Rom)||
Some collaborative actions require live group activities and other remote.
REMOTE REALTIME GROUP ACTIVITY A remote challenge requires players to work together (from different geographic locations) across cyberspace to achieve a task.
Example: Dark Knight ARG (42 Entertainment, 2007)
Though not necessarily a full-blown ARG, the Joker Face Challenge in this campaign to market the Dark Knight feature film includes a cyberspace collaboration. On May 19th, a comic store employee in Southern California reported finding a whole lot of doctered joker cards lying around their store, Meltdown. The cards have the words HaHa and 'I Believe in Harvey Dent Too' [source]. Fans realised that the words 'I believe in Harvey Dent too' was indeed a URL (a device used quite readily in ARGs). The new site, www.IBelieveinHarveyDentToo.com, had a defaced image of Harvey Dent and the offer to enter your email address. An email notified fans of an X and Y coordinate on the defaced image of Harvey Dent. And then, as Muhammed Saleem explains:
But since participation is limited to one user and one pixel removal per email address, the average user will only be able to participate once. And since every ardent fan is desperate to see what lies beneath, it is in the best interest of every fan to spread the word as much as possible and to get the process going faster and faster so that we can all see what lies beneath. At this point the users undoubtedly take matters into their own hands, start spreading the word and try to get other users to participate and remove pixels.And so, the collective efforts of strangers all over the globe (or mainly the US I'd say) got together and took out one pixel as a time.
See full description of event at Story So Far & The Bruce's Timeline
LIVE EVENT collaborative actions include:
Example: Last Call Poker (42 Entertainment, 2005)
[image sourced from 42 Entertainment]
Last Call Poker required some players to attend a cemetery to play a specially-designed graveyard-poker game:
1. Arrive at the Italian Cemetery (540 F Street, Colma, CA 94014, 2 blocks from Colma BART station) on Saturday October 15 between 1:30 PM and 2:00 PM.
Example: Perplex City (Mind Candy Design, 2005-2007)
San Francisco Connection (August 12th, 2006
Clapham Common Event Write up of event by Matthew Turnbull (aka brat-sampson) at Unfiction:
We all arrived at Clapham Common in a group of around 30-40 people (rough estimate) from forum regulars to some who came purely after reading the Metro ad yesterday. We were there at the designated time and after briefly wandering around aimlessly pointing at anything either purple, interesting, or simply there in the hunt for elusive kloos, a motor bike came past and dropped off a pack with one of the groups that had naturally formed. Inside this pack were three folders, two green and one purple. The green folders contained maps of the common with gridlines overlayed and markings where all the tasks were set. On the back were the instructions for what we had to do. Basically at each location would be a task that when solved would give a keyword that could be used with the codebook. The result of this could then be relayed to the online group so they could get the information on the rendevous point.
Photos of event by Daemon Kirjava at Flickr
Designer-created Live Event page for Perplex City was at: http://perplexcity.com/liveevents/index.qbuild
|Shared Rewards||"The players who were involved in some way in reaching a goal in the game share the reward."||
OVERALL GAME GOAL An overall game goal (to save a person, solve a crime, find a person and so on) are examples of shared rewards (when achieved). Some ARGs also announce rewards that will be given to groups of players for certain activities. In all of the following examples, all the winners receive the same reward directly.
PARTICIPATING IN A SEASON: players are informed up-front that they will receive an extra reward for participating in a season (or episode) of an ARG.
Example: Eldritch Errors
In Book 1 of Eldritch Errors, coins were delivered to potential players as part of the launch, with other players invited to request one. Upon delivery of these items (a postcard and coin) it was announced that other coins will be given out to those who participate in each Book (season). As one of the PMs Brian Clark explained on the game meta site:
We plan on using a lot of different challenge coins in the series (and not just because we really like drinking games.) [NP] So the coin you've seen so far is best described as a participant coin: they will always be bronze in color, be extremely limited edition, and be intended to end up in the hands of a participant in that Book of the story. [source]SINGLE-CHALLENGE: players are informed that they will receive a reward for completing a single challenge.
Example: Perplex City
Perplex City had many mini-challenges with rewards, such as the 'Guess the Weight of the Cube' competition in which 15 players won.
Example: Last Call Poker
Players of the ARG could earn gold and weapons which they could then use in the digital game, Activision's GUN, which was the product the ARG was created to market.
Note: There are also gifts that are given to players after the game. These types of gifts are not 'rewards' in this sense because they do facilitate social interaction. They do, however, facilitate a long-term ARG designer-player relationship. Examples are 'Random Crap™' given to players randomly, and the 'Limited Edition Vera Stove Print C ertificate of Authenticity' given to 'The Solvers' in Who is Benjamin Stove? ARG).
[See also this brief discussion about 'Accomplishment Tokens' at UnFiction Unforums]
|Shared Penalties||The penalty for a failure to meet a requirement in the game is shared between some or all of the participating players.||Example: Sammeeeees (Jan Libby, 2006)
In Sammeeeees, the players had to arrange a date and time to meet with a character called White Rose 2 who would pass on important information about the "evil Mister Alan Johnson" and his land of Spoocheeeee. The player that volunteered to meet with White Rose 2 did not turn up. The consequences of this action were immediate and set within the fictional world: White Rose 2 waited for a long time to meet with her contact, which left her vulnerable. She was actually captured and killed by Spoocheeeee and the valuable information she had went into the hands of the "evil Mister Alan Johnson". The players received a video announcing her death. The loss of the information, and the character, made it very difficult for the players. Jan Libby reports that the players never missed a meet after that. (personal email from Jan Libby to Christy Dena, 4 April, 2008).
|Delayed Reciprocity||"There is a time delay in social exchange situations, i.e. the whole exchange is not immediate, something is given now and the return is to be paid back some time in the future."||N/A?|
|Competence Areas||"Players have or can develop an area of specialty within a game."||This is definitely a part of ARGs. Developers often provide different content to different players according to their skills.
Examples: Puzzle Players
Players who are good at puzzles can participate in the puzzle challenges and then share the solves with the other players. Also, there are different puzzle types, such as those requiring particular technologies, knowledge or mind game experience.
"In some games, the players do things together in more or less static groups. These patterns describe the se activities and how to design games to support them." (p. 247)
|Team Play||“Players in a group or a team coordinate their actions, abilities, and roles in order to reach a common goal.” (p. 247)||GROUP CREATION involves a challenge in which the game (usually a game character)
asks the players either directly or indirectly to work together to create a specific or
Example: Perplex City
A character, Violet, needed access to a (fictional) library so that she could read a diary that contained vital clues. The library, however, only allowed entry to published authors. Violet called on the Earth investigators (the players), to write a book. A group of players answered that call and collaboratively wrote a book, Tales from the Third Planet (Terra Incognita, 2006), which was published by the in-game press, Seaside Press, was announced and reviewed in the in-game newspaper Perplex City Sentinal, and is available for sale in the ‘real world’.
The character, 5D, sent an email to one of the players, nbnewell, with a call to create content:
"Who knows, maybe the answers and questions you are waiting for are actually in the objects being created." Perhaps that is what we are asking for. Perhaps then in order to answer us correctly, we will need a series of four creations from each participant. Perhaps I should let you share this piece of information. --Son of JohnThe players decided to write a Round Robin Story.
|Alliances||"A group of players who have agreed to obey particular and specific rules of conduct towards each other and who, usually, also have a shared agenda." (p. 250)||There may be examples of ARGs where the gameplay design has facilitated players separating into groups (form alliances) and obeying certain rules. At this stage the most identifiable expression of an alliance obeying rules is the general obeying of ARG gameplay. See Dave Szulborski's book cited below.|
|Roleplaying||"Players have characters with at least somewhat fleshed out personalities. The play is centered on making decisions on how these characters would take actions in staged imaginary situations." (p. 252)||Players of ARGs usually play themselves, they don't roleplay. They do, however, do need to sustain the
illusion of the gameworld when they interact with characters. ARG Dave Szulborski explains the lack of roleplay in ARGs:
ARG In-Game Rule #1: Do not role play or pretend to be a made-up character while playing an ARG. Alternate Reality Games are intended to be played and enjoyed as yourself. (Szulborski, 2005, 39)
|Constructive Play||"Constructive Play is based on putting game elements together to construct new kinds of game element configurations, which might have different emergent characteristics." (p. 255)||N/A?|
|Player Decided Results||"Players, or at least some of the players, are responsible for deciding at least some of the results of the player actions. These decisions are not necessarily based on the rules of the game." (p. 256)||Examples?|
|Team Development||"The efficiency of the team is improved either intentionally or unintentionally."||Not as yet?|
|Social Organizations||"Social Organizations are more or less stable group of players who have common long-term interests within the game."||The players identify themselves with a shared goal or common interest.
Example: The Occulus Effect/Fallen ARG by Xenophile Media source: Evan Jones.
|Uncommitted Alliances||"The players have a possibility to start and end alliances without direct in-game investments or risking penalties."||All ARGs appear to be UnCommitted Alliances in the sense that players develop alliances outside of game actions and the leaving of an alliance doesn't cause penalties?|
|Dynamic Alliances||"The alliances are dynamic in nature, that is, new alliances can be created, old alliances can die out and the characteristics, especially the player composition, of an alliance can change during the game play."||???|
|Secret Alliances||"Alliances, or the special characteristics of alliances, which by definition are unknown to at least some of the players."||
Example: ReGenesis II ERG
In mission three of the ReGenesis II Extended Reality Game by Xenophile Media, a small group of players were invited to join the anarchic organization the Ocktopods...and organization the majority of players were working with the game characters to bring down.
"Games played in face-to-face situations tend to have social interaction between the players even though the game itself would not require it. The patterns in this section describe ways to achieve social interaction and especially ways to increase the amount of social interaction between the players or even to require it." (p. 259)
|Social Interaction||"Social Interaction is when two or more players have two-way communication between each other, i.e., the other players can respond to the individual player's communication." (p. 259)||STIMULATED COMMUNICATION CHANNEL:
Games of stimulated Social Interaction, on the other hand, require or rely on players to communicate, that is, the game is impossible to play, or the gameplay experience is extremely impoverished, without players having the ability to communicate.All ARGs require social interaction in order to exist. However, the task of providing the communication channels has been assumed predominantly by the players. Examples of PM-faciliated stimulated two-way communication include:
Example: The Lost Ring (McGonigal, AKQA, McDonalds, 2008)
Example: Art of the Heist (Campfire, GMD Studios, McKinney-Silver, 2005)
Forum [no-longer online]
Example: Eldritch Errors: Scream in the Mountains (GMD Studios, 2007)
Sentry OutPost Forums
Example: The Ocular Effect (Matt Wolf & Xenophile Media, 2006)
Example: Perplex City (Mind Candy Design, 2005-2007)
Example: ReGenesis Extended Reality Game I (Xenophile Media, 2005)
Example: ReGenesis Extended Reality Game II (Xenophile Media, 2006)
|Trading||"Players exchange some kind of Resource, be it information, actions, or game elements, between each other or the game system." (p.262)||Players of ARGs do participating in trading 'swag' outside of a game. The giving of gifts to players by the PMs can be seen as facilitating this activity, but at this stage I'm not aware of any PM-faciliated trading for gameplay.|
|Bidding||"Players invest resources, usually some kind of a currency, for an uncertain outcome in order to get a reward of some kind." (p. 267)||Bids in Last Call Poker? (Poker within an ARG/game within a game)|
|Bluffing||"Players have a possibility to convey false information to other players in order to benefit from the situation." (p. 269)||Bluffing in Last Call Poker? (Poker within an ARG/game within a game)|
|Negotiation||"A situation where the players confer with each other in order to reach an agreement or settlement." (p. 271)||Example: Sammeeeees (Jan Libby, 2006) At the end of Sammeeeees, players had to negotiate with the character Mister Alan Johnson for the lives of "the five" and Peeps. (personal email from Jan Libby to Christy Dena, 4th April, 2008)|
|Social Dilemmas||"The players tend to compete against each other even though cooperation would be beneficial for all players involved." (p.273)||N/A?|
|Social Statuses||“Social Status is defined by the extent to which the player is admired, esteemed or approved by the other players of the game as well as by persons outside the game.”||Developer-facilitated social status is enabled through swag.
Some players are given gifts at the beginning of the game -- in which it is their duty to share with the other players.
Example: I Love Bees
Example: The Lost Ring
PUBLISHED RANKING: where the accomplishments of players are published with a ranking system, for all to see.
Example: Perplex City Leaderboard
Example: Last Call Poker Leaderboard
Example: Chain Factor Leaderboard for Numb3rs ARG
"Although social interaction in general is viewed as something where the players do things together, the means to that interaction often involves conflict and competition between the players. This section has some concrete and some relatively abstract patterns that describe how to achieve or increase the conflict between the players." (p. 237)
|Competition||"Competition is the struggle between players or against the game system to achieve a certain goal where the performance of the players can be measured at least relatively." (p. 238)||
Example: Perplex city
The well-published goal of Perplex City was to find the lost 'Receda Cube' for a one-hundred pound reward. The competition was only open to residents in the UK but had players from 92 countries involved in the solving of the puzzle cards. After 2 years, Andy Darley found the cube and collected his prize.
Example: Vanishing Point
Example: Last Call Poker
Struggle against game system? competing with developers (PMs) as per McGonigal's statement. Results bending of rules with 'brute force' etc.
|Conflict||"In conflict, two or more parties, often players or players against the game system, have goals, that cannot be satisfied together." (p. 239)||??|
|Player Killing||“Allows players to intentionally or unintentionally remove players from the game for at least some time.” (p. 241)||N/A?|
|Betrayal||“One or several players that have an agreement with other players either intentionally fail to do as agreed or otherwise hinder the fulfillment of the agreement.” (p. 243)||??|
|Individual Rewards||“The reward, or parts of the reward, for reaching a goal or performing an action in the game is given to only one of the players. ”||Individual rewards are not a common trait in ARGs but they are employed sometimes. Although they do foster competition, the competition is a secondary force. ARG designer
Dave Szulborski explains the unique nature of ARGs in this regard:
"Perhaps most significantly, ARGs rarely have a single "winner" or a moment where you, as an individual player, actually fight or oppose the ultimate enemy and defeat them. ARGs are primarily collective experiences in which you, as a member of a group of players, work together to solve the mysteries and end the conflicts within the game. So there isn't a "yeehaw!" moment where you overcome the bad guy and see some form of symbolic representation of "You Win!" Game Over" on the screen. Instead, even if a single or a few players are critical in solving some final puzzle or accomplishing some task, it's still normally the community that shares in the sense of "mission accomplished" as the game comes to a close." (Szulborski, 2005, 68)
Example: Perplex City leaderboard & game cube
It should be noted though, that Perplex City was tiered in the sense that players did not have to participate in the puzzle cards, the puzzle card competition or the cube competition in order to participate or experience the game. In his survey of Perplex City players, Alex Mosely found that most players looked at their status on the leaderboard and most of the players thought the grand prize could be taken away and they'd still enjoy the game. (Moseley, 2008)
Example: Vanishing Point puzzle competitions.
One of the competitions was a meta-puzzle for guessing the true identity of the character Loki. The prize was having your name engraved on the newly released AMD chip. The winner, Audrey Murphy, chose to thank the Neowin and Unfiction players by having them engraved as well. See this article about the prize and community gift at UnFiction and a link to a video of the event in the UnForums.
Example: World Without Oil
PMs gave out a 'Your Story Award' to individual players who wrote stories that were "really funny or touching or vivid or true".
|Individual Penalties||“The penalty for a failure to meet a requirement in the game is given only to one of the players. ”||N/A?|
|Red Queen Dilemmas||“Players have to constantly progress in the game in order to maintain a relative level of power or success compared to other players.”||This occurs in ARGs that have instituted competition between players.
Example: Perplex City leaderboard & game cube
It should be noted though, that Perplex City was tiered in the sense that players did not have to participate in the puzzle cards, the puzzle card competition or the cube competition in order to participate or experience the game.
Example: Vanishing Point puzzle competition.
Created: 13 March, 2008 | Last Updated: 11 June, 2008 | Author: Christy Dena