Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about ARG

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Sunday 13th March 2011

  • Hoax or Transmedia? The Ethics of Pervasive Fiction

    by Andrea Phillips

    The classic ARG storytelling technique involves putting content into the real world and web as if the story were really happening. But the line between truth and fiction online is blurry -- and getting blurrier all the time -- so not everyone who finds your content will know it's not for real.

    One person's hoax is another's deeply immersive experience. And what one considers a killer practical joke can be a terrifying ordeal to somebody else. So how does a transmedia designer learn to strike the right balance between immersive and responsible?

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 12AB, Austin Convention Center

  • The Art of Immersion: Tron

    by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Susan Bonds and Frank Rose

    In July 2009, after a 27-year-hiatus, the story of Tron began anew when Flynn's Arcade reopened at Comic-Con. The Flynn Lives alternate reality game, created by 42 Entertainment, was the beginning of an elaborate lead-in to 2010's Tron: Legacy, a live-action 3-D movie with unprecedented digital effects. As the original Tron, released in 1982, became a cult classic, Disney struggled for years to devise a followup. When they finally came up with the right story, they decided to tell it not just on the movie screen but through a variety of media experiences, including video games and the ARG. The goal was to recreate Tron as an immersive world for fans to explore as deeply as they like. Long championed by 42 Entertainment and by producer Sean Bailey at LivePlanet (his partnership with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), this ambitious new form of storytelling has now been embraced by Disney and by a new generation of Tron fans. But how does it really work? At this panel the key players involved will explain their ambitions, their motivations, the lessons they've learned, and the difficulties they've confronted as they pioneer a new form of narrative for the 21st century.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 12AB, Austin Convention Center

  • Transmedia Artists Guild: New Media Needs New Advocacy

    by Jay Bushman and Steve Peters

    Transmedia is a big buzzword in entertainment. Most of the conversation around transmedia has been focused on large media corporations with major franchises to advertise. But companies don't make transmedia - people do. At last year's SXSW a group of these people -- transmedia, ARG and net-native story designers -- convened to discuss the challenges of making a living and thriving in this landscape. The bitch session spurred a call to action, and the plans were laid for a new advocacy organization to serve individual producers and artists working in this still-hazily defined world -- the Transmedia Artists Guild.

    TAG seeks to fulfill needs that are currently being overlooked by the established creative guilds and advocacy organizations, including: 1) Providing a community for professional practitioners; 2) Advancing clear definitions of what transmedia creators do; 3) Fostering a culture of credit in the transmedia space and 4) Aiding companies in need of transmedia talent in finding professional practitioners.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Salon C, Hilton Austin Downtown

Monday 14th March 2011

  • The Future of Storytelling: DEXTER Fans Play Killer

    by Marcelo Guerra, Howard Goldkrand and Jonathan Verk

    When Showtime’s smash TV hit DEXTER made its 5th season premiere on September 26, 2010, the date also marked the finale of a nine-week ARG (alternate reality game) that whipped fans into a frenzy just before the season’s launch. The game development team (which called the ARG an "actual reality game" because it so infiltrated their real lives) built the world of the Infinity Killer, a serial murderer obsessed with fate and social control, and the Serial Huntress, an ex-FBI agent who caught serial killers through crowdsourcing. This SXSW Interactive presentation brings together the Dexter ARG team – Showtime and Modernista!, with Promax/BDA President Jonathan Block-Verk moderating, to take attendees through the thought process, story development arc, execution challenges -- and exciting possibilities -- of the ARG format.

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Grand Ballroom, AT&T Conference Center

Tuesday 15th March 2011

  • Project 314: Putting The 'Game' Back Into ARGs

    by Adrian Hon

    Most ARGs are like icing on a cake - they make an existing TV show, movie, game or book taste even better by giving fans another way to explore and interact with the fictional universe. But you can't live on icing, so the question is: can an ARG ever work on its own, without relying on a massive audience from another medium?

    Very few have tried, and there are no enduring successes (including my own Perplex City). As a result, many have implicitly concluded that a 'native ARG' can't be done, and are now moving on to transmedia. But at Six to Start, we think it can be done, and we've been developing Project 314 to prove it.

    Project 314 is an online social game blended with an ARG, aimed at a mass audience (just like Zynga and Playfish games) but with a depth of gameplay, story, and world that they can't approach. During development, we found that there are enormous advantages in creating an ARG that's attached to an online game; for one, you can avoid the irritating friction that always occurs when switching between media; for another, it feels incredibly natural (and there are a few more to discuss)

    It took us three years to come up with the idea for Project 314, and to assemble the right team. In this talk, I'll also share why Project 314 is so important for the future of games and storytelling, why it took so long, and how other game developers can create similar games (while avoiding the pitfalls we encountered).

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Tuesday 15th March

    In Room 12AB, Austin Convention Center

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