ImageSCVNGR has graciously given me access to an educational license with full functionality until January 2013. In exchange I will write a blog post about the experience and will submit the post to SCVNGR for their general use. I’m excited to actually connect all of the pieces for the game through SCVNGR as it will serve as a central application for game play.

Asset Progress: The logo for the overall story has also been created and an acronym for the name is currently being developed. G.A.T.O.R.S. will be the an independent agency for amateur sleuths created by Hunter and managed by Sophia. WhereIsAlbertaREADME created.


Location 1 – J. Wayne Reitz Union Game Room. 

Participants receive a GATORS Flier from the game desk (or the information will be on the website as well). The flier contains instructions for initiating the game and downloading applications (i.e. SCVNGR and LAYAR) along with how to use them. It has the G.A.T.O.R.S. club logo at the top but no further information about the club. A link to the introduction game video (and first clue) is on the flier as well.

Scene 1

YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/eWO8wuNxSAE (G.A.T.O.R.S. Reitz Union)


Script
[Like a news anchor]

Sophia – “Calling all G.A.T.O.R. club members. We have received a recent case. It seems that Albert tried to contact Alberta while on his way to get her chocolates but she can’t be reached.  They were supposed to meet at the Reitz Union for dinner but she didn’t show there either. Albert searched inside for clues, but the only clue he got was text from a strange number. I’ll put up the text now.”
Text – Tag! You aren’t as clever as you think. I know exactly where Alberta is. I even took a picture of her. Betcha can’t put the LAYARS together!
Sophia– “Well that’s kinda cryptic. I have a feeling this might be the work of Sherringford and company. Looks like it’s up to G.A.T.O.R. club to find Alberta. Maybe that photograph will give us some clues afterall.  It looks like it is somewhere outside the Reitz Union doors. I bet Sherringford was actually talking about the LAYAR application you downloaded. Hmph, he is always very interested in the club technologies. Let’s find this pedestal and scan it with the LAYAR app. Oh and if you are having trouble you could always try one of the SCVNGR challenges instead. My brother Hunter is already on the case and set those challenges up to help us catch up….but …he always makes you work for it. Your choice, LAYAR or SCVNGR.”
Text – Open Layar or Scavenger to complete this location and receive a clue to your next location.


H1 We Are The Boys (SCVNGR)

Place: Outside Reitz Union
Points: 5 (*points used only for Hunter badges)
Description: Take a picture of you (or your friends) singing “We Are The Boys” or giving your best gator chomp outside the Reitz Union. Then upload your photo.
Type: Photo

Multimedia

    • Images:  We Are The Boys Words.png
    • Audio: We Are The Boys.wav

Messages

P1 J.Wayne Reitz Pedestal (LAYAR)

Place: J. Wayne Reitz Union pedestal

Description: Locate the J. Wayne Reitz pedestal in the picture. Open the Layar application and scan your camera over the pedestal. Sophia will then beam further instructions, a link and/or video to your device.

Type: LAYAR

Multimedia

Scene 2

YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/-G38srrSBr0

Script [Like a news anchor]
Sophia
– “Looks like we can confirm that Sherringford is behind this latest case. He has a bad habit of boasting about it on his Twitter account. But what’s good for us is that he included this puzzle in the tweet. I’ll put it up for you now.”Text [Puzzle] – Rebus of “North Lawn Seal”

Sophia – “The answer to this puzzle should be our next location. Let’s find the answer and scan the area with our LAYAR app. Oh and if you are having trouble you could always try one of the SCVNGR challenges instead. Hunter is always two steps ahead of us… but we’ll catch up soon. Your choice, LAYAR or SCVNGR.”
Text – Open Layar or Scavenger once you have figured out the puzzle and are at that location.


H2 Check the Seal (SCVNGR)

Place: North Lawn Seal

Points: 5

Description: Once you find the answer to Sherringford’s rebus puzzle, visit the location to find out what year the University of Florida was founded. Then enter the year here to get points.

Type: Specific Text Response

Answers: 1853

Multimedia

    • Image: Reitz Union North Lawn

Messages

    • Done – How about them Gators?! This University has been around a long time. Check out [Insert “new Sherringford video” URL] for another clue.
    • Incorrect – Try again. You could always use Google if you get really stuck.
    • Fail – There is something wrong with the matrix. Try back again later.


P2 North Lawn Seal (LAYAR)

Place: North Lawn Seal

Description:  Locate and scan the North Lawn Seal using the Layar application.

Type: LAYAR

Multimedia

    • Link to Geo-layer with “new Sherringford video.” (To be created later)

I like it when grounded reality meets up with virtual reality. A reference to a “viral” Stanley Kubrick homage video came across my Facebook stream today. It is very appropriate considering the topic from today’s Interactive Storytelling lecture was Giotto, Cimabue and perspective in storytelling.

Clickie to view the video – Kubrick // One-Point Perspective

The video highlights the consistency of one-point perspectives within the frame of Kubrick movies. Much like Campbell’s hero’s journey, Freytag’s pyramid and Aristotle’s dramatic arc, these are quintessential elements of storytelling.

At the heart of the following lists are the generalizability and applicability of any research findings based on data collected from these worlds. In order to make general statements any researcher must consider the situated environment of the research sample and population. Although it may be easier to access cowboys in Texas, one does not go to a rodeo in order to study the fine art hanging on the wall. That is to say, researchers who take the reality of these worlds out of context and attempt to place them in the grounded reality of “the real world” might find data which is easy to collect but which comes with so many stipulations that it becomes unusable in any other environment. That is where studying games for games sake or virtual worlds “sui generis” comes into effect without attempting to draw any parallels to grounded reality environments.

Pitfalls of using virtual worlds for research

  • Identity is ever changing and fragmented. Identity online may not necessarily correlate to identity off-line. “Some contemporary cognitive scientists are skeptical of scholarly conceptions of self, finding them to be ore like literary metaphors distilled form the surrounding folk culture than like rigorously measurable scientific concepts.” (Bainbridge, pg. 475)
  • Individuals may not be their “real selves” when online (But how do you know your “real self”? Is that even possible? Isn’t our sense of self defined by our perceived social reality in relation to others?)
  • The indigenous culture may be influenced by the rules of the world (“game laws”) and may influence the observations which can be made of the group
  • Game variables may have an impact on user behaviors
  • Williams (2008) “mapping principle” which questions whether the way an individual behaves and thinks in a virtual environment can truly be mapped and validated in grounded reality.
  •  Where does grounded reality stop and the virtual world start? How do you tease (or can you tease) out the effect of the virtual world from the general personality traits and behaviors an individual may have regardless of the environment.
  • Data may be skewed due to the demographics of the members in the virtual worlds.

Praise for using virtual worlds for research

  • Experiments can be “scaled up” from a few to hundreds of subjects and data points
  • Research in virtual worlds can cross sociocultural boundaries and provide data for underrepresented groups.
  • Virtual worlds can offer opportunities for longitudinal research investigating processes over weeks or months that may naturally take weeks or months to develop
  • The abundance of potential research subjects at a low cost
  • Experimental methods are best suited in virtual worlds which allow the researcher to create virtual laboratories.
  • Noninstrusive methods such as content analysis and analysis of information collected by the players, game developers and/or publishers offers a treasure trove of data
  • One might be able to compare the results from virtual worlds like you would compare different nations in grounded reality.

The readings for this week were meant to establish an updated, theoretical foundation for gaming as a social practice. Steinkuehler & Williams (2006) updated Oldenburg’s “third places” to incorporate virtual communities as “public spaces for informal social gatherings.” Consalvo argued that Huizinga’s idea of a “magic circle” is no longer applicable in our always on and always connected world. Squire points to the frames that our culture has developed around video games and attempts to situate those frames. On a whole, these readings support multiple viewpoints and multiple contexts for studying video games but there is still something that is lacking across all disciplines- a common vocabulary. Costikyan (2002) addressed some of the critical vocabulary issues  but I believe the operationalization of a few more terms would be helpful in light of their appearance in this week’s reading:

  • Edutainment – Is it educational or entertainment? Can you do both successfully or does the game need to be created to be entertaining and have the education happen in a non-obvious way? The term “Edutainment” has been hotly contested. According to legend, the term can be traced to 1983 when the technology industry linked it to educational software developed specifically for the Oric I and Spectrum microcomputers as advertised in several issues of “Your Computer” magazine. It was not created by educators but by the “entertainment” industry. If the goal of edutainment is to keep students involved in the content longer by increasing the entertainment value then isn’t the entertainment value the current driving force in educational game development. And if not, are those which emphasize education actually entertaining? Can we rely on entertainment to teach? Should we re-frame this area to emphasize the processes and mechanics (ie- the gameplay)?
  • Casual Gamer – What is a casual gamer? The word is bandied about in many articles as if everyone who is reading the article should already know the definition. For example, Consalvo stated, “MMOs are difficult for casual gamers to do well in.” It would have been helpful for Consalvo to cite some research indicating this. In order to understand this statement one has to first know the definition of casual gamer and decipher why casual gamers would not do well in an MMO. Are we considering a purist definition of casual gamers-as in they can only ever play casual games and have no concept of other games? Perhaps this is an instance where a better understanding of how, why and when we use video games will help to untangle this mess of neologisms that are coming out the industry.
  • Video Games – “1980 called and they want their word back” – Is this term outdated? What is the difference between video games and computer games? Does the term “video games” prime researchers and readers to the cultural frames which Squire discusses?   It’s no longer a video cassette, they are no longer video cards …so why still keep it as a video game? Why not just lose the video part? (eg. Interactive Games, Digital Game) Is it video game or videogame? Or perhaps it is still appropriate because it incorporates the video (narrative and graphics) and gameplay (ludic) in “one” word?  

Resources: