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5 questions in 5 min = 50 points

5 questions in 5 min = a big +1 for Jane

WWO’s own Participation Architect, Jane McGonigal, continues her business-of-ARGs evangelism in this article in Businessweek, and answers five questions posed by Businessweek about Alternate Reality Games in this 6-min video. As Jane notes, it’s important for businesses to take note of and get involved with the sort of massively peer-peer learning, collaborative brainstorming, and shaping of win-win futures that alternate reality games can spark – not just for their own business success but for the improvement of quality of life in general. Or as Jane puts it, “increasing the odds of us collaboratively inventing a future that we all want to live in.” Go Jane!

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The game of politics is an alternate reality game (and has been all along), and so it’s fascinating to see how  ARG techniques are challenging traditional political gameplay. The most striking example I’ve seen is the Anne Kilkenny email about Sarah Palin. I don’t think the strategists behind her nomination reckoned on the power of WWO-style crowdsourcing to answer the questions about the nominee so deeply, so quickly and so plainly. They must not have played the World Without Oil game.

Librarian reading "The Handmaid's Tale," a banned book

Librarian reading a banned book

In World Without Oil, people told the truth as they saw it, from the perspective they were at, about the days when oil was no longer cheap. It’s important to note that they were the experts at this: no official can say what any given person will do when oil prices go higher. And it’s turning out, of course, that this means that no official can say what individuals in the aggregate will do: every week it seems there’s some new story about an agency or a business or an organization that’s struggling to adapt to some change in public behavior that they had not foreseen.

The old political ARG manipulates the media to keep its spins spun and its secrets secret. A nominee or an officeholder can refuse to meet the press or answer questions or even appear in any forum that’s not tightly controlled. To use Clay Shirky’s term, the model is “filter, then publish.” But the Internet is all about “publish, then filter,” and this is a whole new game. Photo by hatcher.library via Flickr.

with Steve PaikinGames make us happy. A simple enough premise when the game is football or soccer or chess or Monopoly. Can the idea be extended? Can it get serious? Can it get real? Can it go global on the Internets? Why not?

Jane McGonigal talks ARGs, WWO and happiness with Steve Paikin of The Agenda (Canada’s biggest news magazine). Roll tape!

Ouch Ouch OuchRevealing AP article today by John Wilen, highlighting the trouble that US consumers find themselves in today: gas prices are going up, no matter what. And increasing fuel costs mean that the price of everything goes up, no matter what. Under price pressure from all sides, US consumers are “combining errands, sharing rides, eliminating pleasure trips and using public transit more” in an effort to control the cost of fuel on their budgets. But what’s not happening is any decrease in fuel prices commensurate with the decline in fuel usage. Gas usage is off by 1% in the past 8 weeks, instead of its usual 1.5% growth (to keep up with population growth). But gas prices have only retreated by a few cents in recent days. The result: a father in Pleasanton, CA, is considering cutting swim lessons for his kids. Which may not seem like much, unless you’ve played World Without Oil and recognize that this is how it all begins.

Not discussed in the article: the Tata Motor Company, which seems set to buy Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford. Tata is famous these days for the Tata Nano, a marvelously inexpensive car that seems destined to escalate India’s oil consumption at a rate commensurate with its economic growth. Why would cutting oil demand in the US reduce prices, when demand is increasing elsewhere? World oil consumption is expected to grow by 1.3 million barrels a day in both 2008 and 2009, according to the EIA update of March 11. (photo by goatopolis)

late March, 2008Real Life headlines from just the past week. Thisisnotagame?

South By Southwest Web Awards 2008World Without Oil has been nominated for a number of web awards, and yesterday we got word that it’s a Top Five finalist in the 2008 South By Southwest Interactive competition, in the “Activism” category. You can see the list of finalists here (some pretty cool sites, yow). Plus WWO sponsor ITVS has its Independent Lens website as a finalist in the “Classic” category… plus WWO’s participation architect Jane McGonigal (some of you know her as mpathytest) will be a keynote speaker at SXSW Interactive on Tuesday, March 11. So we look to be well represented at SXSW – let me know if you’re gonna be around.

“Oil futures rose Thursday after the government reported larger-than-expected declines in crude and heating oil inventories… Inventories of distillates (heating oil, diesel fuel) fell by 3.3 million barrels, more than the .8 million expected… Oil supplies have declined more than expected for several weeks running, exacerbating a perception that supplies may be inadequate to meet winter demand… ‘Stocks are just plunging’…”  Pre-echoes of WWO as reported in today’s San Jose Mercury News.

Dick Gordon, host of The StoryToday on The Story, the subject is “oil games.” It’s worth a listen: go here and click the “LISTEN HERE” icon at top right to grab the MP3.

The first segment of the radio show from American Public Media deals with a simulation called “Oil Shockwave” put on by SAFE (Securing America’s Future Energy) in early November. I think that WWO followers will find it very interesting – and eerily alarming in its familiarity. “We found that once the crisis has started, there’s not much that the government can do…” The second segment is all about World Without Oil, and it’s a good summary of what the game was all about. Featuring starring roles by Rocklobster and other players! Thanks to Cori Princell and host Dick Gordon of The Story, and to North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC where the show is produced.  And to bloggers like Annette in Anaheim who are already picking up on and amplifying the story.

Jane McGonigal (or should I say, mPathytest) speaks out about the potential of gamers in The Christian Science Monitor yesterday.

World Without Oil is part of Issue 115 of The Escapist, “Crowdsourcing to Victory.” My favorite part of Nova Barlow’s article: “The last week was an agony of sorts – no one wanted the game to end, but I had to end it. It was really hard.”

It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.