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Here’s a timely blog post by Philip Trippenbach of the BBC about Alternate Reality Games (ARGs). Philip is responding to Dan Hon’s rousing closer at the Let’s Change The Game: ARGs For Charity And Education Conference in London (a conference I should have attended, considering all the Friends of WWO there are at the BBC). Dan’s key point was that ARG designers suck, but said in a very sympathetic and helpful way, and Philip has riffed on that with an eye towards the future of journalism.

ARGs that don't suck

Changing the game: ARGs that don't suck

What cheers me is that consensus says: World Without Oil didn’t suck. It’s the counterexample to Dan’s rant, and Philip derives five takeaways for journalists, things they can learn from games like WWO:

• Network effectively
• Focus your public with a challenge structure
• Be platform agnostic
• Tell stories collaboratively
• Interact

I think the upshot is going to be more and better ARGs: more democratic, more participatory, more relevant. Photo of SleeperCell volunteers by Adrian.

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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.