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WWO finalist in Environmental Art at 01SJ01SJ is the Zero One art-on-the-edge digital festival here in San Jose, and it’s chosen World Without Oil as a finalist for its Environmental Art award. That is so cool as to render me speechless. We are shoulder-to-shoulder with such WWO simpaticos as The Miss Rockaway Armada and The Yes Men. See the entire list of finalists here. And if you’re in the area, come on down to the 01SJ Opening Ceremony in San Jose on Wednesday, June 4 – that would be a great way to celebrate the first anniversary of the close of the World Without Oil game.

Oh Hai. I Ran Out

The BuZz about the new WWO metasiteThe WWO metasite (the site that talks about the game archive) has grown up a little bit – we’ve made some changes to make it more readable and useful for our new visitors. Fear not – the game archive itself is unchanged, still brilliant in Grassroots Green. Give the new metasite a look – pass the URL to friends – your comments welcome and appreciated as we put the finishing touches on over the next few weeks…

Henry Jenkins, Wikipedia, and WWOI’m cribbing today from these notes that Doug Foxgrover made of a talk by Henry Jenkins, transmedia/new media guru at MIT, at Educause. The talk was on “What can Wikipedia teach us about new media literacies?” The talk itself is podcasted here.

I bring it up because education was (and is) very much a goal of WWO. It’s part of the mission of ITVS, our sponsor, and very much on my mind these days as I work to shape the WWO lesson plans for high school teachers. (Looking at first drafts now; ready in about 3 weeks?)

This gets important, as Jenkins, Jane McGonigal and others say that “new media literacy” is exactly what people are going to need to be capable learners and contributors as the world moves into a participatory digital culture. Jenkins’ checklist for that culture maps really well onto World Without Oil:

  • Low barriers to artistic and civic expression (people played WWO by email or even by phone)
  • Strong support for creating and sharing what you create
  • Some kind of informal mentorship (peer to peer, mostly, but our WWO characters filled this role)
  • Members feel their contributions matter
  • Some degree of social connection between members

The new media literacies are social skills and participation skills, and there’s nothing like a shared crisis to get people talking and working together – even if that crisis is of the “what if?” variety.

Three other things in Jenkins’ talk resonated with me: one, you must take the students’ participation seriously – it must matter. In WWO we pretty much let our “students” drive the bus, to really good effect I think. Two, you should let the participation emerge from students’ own cultural life – again, something WWO explicitly did. And finally, Jenkins identifies a core challenge as ethical: as the traditional forms of professional training (such as journalism) break down, how do you prepare ordinary citizens, and young people in particular, for their increasing role as participants? This is exactly the big deal about WWO, I think: to democratize real-world problemsolving, to empower people to collectively forge their own solutions.

Jenkins lists “four big ideas”: Collective intelligence, Judgment, Networking and Negotiation. And cites WWO as an example of the first big idea. WWO Lives!

In other news, the price of oil – not. Anyone else noticed how it has completely fallen off the news radar lately?

Transbuddha includes World Without Oil in its 2007 game review. Alphamonkey writes that WWO is “a way of getting people thinking about how we can shift the world into being less dependent on oil, and it succeeds on just about every front.” WWO is the only ARG to make TB’s cut, but the thoughtful ‘Buddha honors many serious and educational web games, most notably February’s Climate Change and Against All Odds, November’s game of the month.

Alice, in Wonderland, features WWO in this post-mortem. She calls us brave. O yeah.

RELIEF

July 12, 2007
Futurology and training

The future belongs to that which has the longest memory. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

“The Internet projects that obtain the financial support of established organizations undergo a process of selection which is not unlike that of a book. On the other hand, they are characterized by their originality, considering the metamorphic nature of the media. World Without Oil got my attention precisely by the uniqueness of its concept: to ask young people to publish imaginary reports over the weeks following an oil shortage, an event with multiple economic, social and environmental consequences. The result is of an astonishing quality. The participants determined the essence of a complex subject…”

Thus begins an essay by François Guité in RELIEF. The essay is in French, so break out your favorite Babelfish.

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.