Maureen McHugh to Keynote ARGFest

July 5th, 2010

We are extremely pleased to announce that Maureen McHugh will be delivering the keynote this year. Maureen is an award winning science fiction writer who, for almost a decade now, has been exploring what it means to write in a transmedia environment. She has been a writer and/or managing editor behind some of the most popular and critically claimed experiences to date including I Love Bees (Halo 2), Why So Serious (The Dark Knight), and Year Zero (the Nine Inch Nails album of the same name).

Credits aside, Maureen has an incredible grasp how to write and deliver a story across mediums in a way that draws people in. She understands how to work with designers, producers, and technology in a way that brings a story to life for the audience without the technology or complexity becoming a barrier. It’s a tricky balancing act and one that few can do as well.

We hope that you will join us on Friday, July 16 for what is sure to be an evening filled with insights & fun stories from the trenches.

Connecting the dots

July 2nd, 2010

Have you heard of a dotmocracy? It’s a pretty cool concept… you write an issue or idea on a piece of paper and folks can fill in a little bubble indicating how much they agree or disagree with the statement. It’s not only a great way to get a feel for how a group is thinking about things, but it starts conversations. And it’s something that we’re going to be doing at ARGFest this year.

We’ll have posters up throughout the conference where you can add your thoughts and even elaborate on them if you want. Friday, right before the last session of the day, we’ll quickly flip through the posters and let everyone know some of the results, talk about some of the controversies (or lack thereof), and see how we compare with the folks participating online. After the Fest, we’ll post the results for all to see.

Tbe thing is… we need ideas & issues to put on the posters. That’s where you come in! Tweet your ideas, using the #argfest & #dot hashtags, and we’ll put the best dozen or so up for the dotmocracy. Don’t tweet? Then leave a comment!

Here are a couple examples to get you started:

  • There will never be a mainstream ARG.
  • All media will become transmedia.
  • Puzzles are pointless!

Getting your hands dirty – ARGFest Workshops

June 3rd, 2010

Yesterday, we teased you with the afternoon workshops. Today, we tell you all about two of them and, hoo boy, are they good ‘uns!

Writing for Transmedia is a writing workshop facilitated by Maureen McHugh of No Mimes Media. If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Maureen, you’re in for a huge treat. Not only does Maureen know how to write and tell truly captivating stories (she’s won awards for both published works and transmedia), but she knows how to teach whether its in a classroom or in a casual conversation. So, when she was excited about the possibility of doing a writers’ workshop, we were overjoyed.

The workshop will be spread out over the two days during the afternoon workshop blocks (90 minutes each day, so this is a 3 hour workshop). You will have the opportunity to write an asset for a hypothetical transmedia production and get some instruction and feedback from other taking part in the workshop. There will also be discussion about writing for transmedia and how it’s different from other forms of storytelling.

Space is limited to sixteen participants and you must be registered for the conference. To apply you will need to send a writing sample to If there are more than sixteen applicants there will be a waiting list and you will find out where you are when you check in with your registration on Thursday. To learn more about the workshop and Maureen, check out the Writing for Transmedia session page.

Now, if the workshop fills up without you, don’t worry, there will be plenty of other things going on. Another very hands-on activity will be a sort of mini game-jam. If you are not familiar with the game jam concept, essentially you walk in with nothing and by the end of the weekend you have a working playable prototype of a game. Now, we don’t have a whole weekend, so there’s not going to be much complex designing and programming going on. Instead, you will be creating simple street games in small teams that can be played during the festival. If you’d like you can utilize location-based technologies, but you could do a super low-tech variant of tag if you choose. It’s up to you and your team. The only requirement is that the game must be playable by Saturday morning for the festival. No pressure there! To help you get started there will be a theme, but you won’t know what it us until the workshops begin. It should be a lot of fun – both in the creating and in the playing.

This is shaping up to be the most creative ARGFest ever, even with the dozen or so panels & presentations. Thinking! Playing! Doing! It’s more than just a theme, it’s who we are. It’s who you are! Have you registered yet? ‘Cause you’re going to kick yourself if you miss it this year. You know you will.

ARGFest Afternoon Schedule!

June 2nd, 2010

Curious as to how you’ll be spending your afternoons at ARGFest? Here’s a hint… it’s not going to be in a conference room!

Ok, that’s not fair, part of it will be. And, if you want to, you can spend the entire day in there. We can say that you’ll learn a lot and do alot, but we can’t tell you what because that’s up to you. Seriously.

Each afternoon will start off in the main conference room with a panel. On Thursday there’s a great panel all about casual social games (things like Farmville – because you can’t have a conference these days without talking about Farmville. It’s a rule!) and what we, in transmedia and alternate reality gaming, can learn from them. It’s not that we want you to go out and create a new Farmville (please don’t!) but there is an appeal to these super social and super casual games that can not be ignored and there are some great lessons here for us.

The panel starting off Friday afternoon is what sets ARGFest apart from every other transmedia sort of conference out there… it is a panel of enthusiasts who have played a number of ARGs and explored transmedia because they enjoy it, not just because they make it. It’s not a job for them. It’s how they choose to spend their down time. We’ll be able to learn from, and perhaps, share in their joys & frustrations as they tell us what they love & hate and what they want to see more of & would rather see disappear. They’ll challenge our ideas of what it means to create and play in this space. It’s going to be an outstanding session and we’re really thrilled about it.

It’s already sounding pretty good, right? But hold on, we don’t settle for good. We want amazing! And we know you do, too.

Two days of listening to people talk is hard work. If you’re not careful and if you don’t shake it up, all of those great ideas get muddled. Plus it’s kinda hard to focus after lunch unless you’re doing what you want and something that excites you.

So! We’re shaking it up and throwing panels & presentations out the window for a big chunk of the afternoon. Instead, you can participate in workshops led by some of the most talented people in the field or a mini game jam where small teams will be challenged to create games & events for the festival. If you’d rather not get your hands dirty, you can join various birds of a feather gatherings and spend time getting to know and talking to people thinking about & dealing with the same issues that you are. While all of that is going on, the conference room will be devoted to this crazy organic session with topics & panelists coming and going… who sits on the panel & the topics that are discussed will be up to you (with a touch of help from a moderator if necessary).

We’ll all come back together in the conference room for the final presentation of the day before breaking for the evening’s activities – the Booze & Shmooze cocktail party or the keynote banquet.

So that’s your afternoon… some talks, some panels, and a lot of fun!

Follow the rabbit and… save a soap opera?

May 26th, 2010

As tempting as it is to dangle a session in front of you every day until they’re all revealed, there is so much going on this year that it’d take forever! Heck with six presentations and four panels already on the schedule, that would take us well into June and then we could start in on all of the games (have you submitted one yet?).

So, today we will tell you about two oddly related presentations. Both are case studies looking at a similar problem – engaging an audience. Yet, one shows how transmedia can be a solution to an increasingly disengaged audience and the other shows how one company has solved the problem of increasing engagement by getting an audience right from the start. Of course, both presentations have a lot of other things to bring to the table, but when it comes right down to it, they’re about bringing in, engaging, and keeping an audience.

First up… Can Transmedia Save the Soap Opera? Of course, we, the committee, had the same reaction that you are probably having… soap opera? really?! is saving the soap opera a real concern? And seeing as this is Brooke’s very own presentation, we were all a little worried that we’d have to approve it. But once we read the description, she didn’t even need to threaten us with more work. We liked it! and think you will to. Brooke is going to take a brief look into the history soap operas and their declining ratings before ripping them apart to find their strengths & weaknesses. Then she’ll show how those strengths & weaknesses can be used to transform a soap opera into a transmedia experience (or, maybe, make your transmedia experience better). Along the way, we’ll learn about things that soap operas have done to extend their stories off the small screen and find out whether or not they’ve worked.

The other one is Patrick Möller’s Follow the Rabbit presentation. Patrick works with vm-people and together they have produced some of Germany’s best alternate reality games. Yet, no matter how successful these games are, they keep hearing from people that they want to be able to get involved from the start. And that’s not unusual! Anyone who has run any sort of live experience has heard that same complaint. So Patrick is going to talk to us about some of the benefits of (and challenges to) getting people involved right at the beginning and staying connected as the game progresses. In the process, he’ll show off (that’s German for Follow the Rabbit) which is a new site by vm-people where players can register to learn about ARGs before they start and, if they choose, provide various means of contact information so the games can surprise them by reaching out into their world in various ways. So far, two games have launched from the site and we’ll hear about what they’ve learned along the way.

We’re working on putting together the schedule page with more information on what all is happening when. In the meantime it’s just straight links to the session descriptions. We’ll see if we can finish it before the last session announcement is made. It’s a race! Who do you think is gonna win?

A hint of what’s to come…

May 25th, 2010

This year’s conference schedule is, in one word, amazing! So far, we’ve got six presentations, four panels, a couple workshops, and a little bit of insanity on the schedule. There are practical and hands on discussions dealing with designing, writing, and producing transmedia, alternate reality games, and public play. We’ll learn about some of the big issues facing us and how to make games that are more accessible, more appealing, and more inclusive. And, for the first time, we’ll hear from both the people making these things and the people playing them.

We’ve got a huge variety of programming types, too! Some of the most experienced folks in field will be giving presentations & case studies, taking a part in panel discussions, and leading workshops & small group gatherings. It’s going to be interactive – the audience won’t get away with just sitting there, oh no!, posters set up throughout the conference will encourage discussion on ideas & issues and allow you to help us figure out where we, as a genre or industry or group, are and where we are headed. And, if it works, the last session of conference will be an incredibly fun and inspiring round-up of our thoughts.

As we confirm our sessions and speakers, we’ll make more specific announcements. Check back soon or follow along on twitter for the latest announcements. We’re in the bio & pic collecting phase, so it won’t be long now!

All powerful! All mighty! Speakers quake at the very sight!

May 17th, 2010

All Hail the Grand Inquisitor!

The Grand Inquisitor haunts the conference floor and gets in the minds of all ARGFest attendees to make sure that the tough questions are being asked… and no speaker is safe from his inquisition. For this reason, and this reason not alone, it was vital that we announce who has been bequeathed the power of the ’stache. Speakers, you have been warned! Your time to prepare is short! Do you have what it takes to stand up against….

The Grand Inquisitor


That’s right! This year, Steve Peters has stepped up to lead the charge. I can hear the sighs of relief already, but don’t be fooled dear speakers! He may be charming. He may be nice. But he’s been around. He knows the players. He knows the industry. He’s designed games. He’s worked with the best of the best. And he’s smart. Those that came before him have taught him well. Inquisitor the First, a Mr. Elan Lee, established the tone for all Inquisitors to follow and, to this day, the speakers of ‘08 fear his inquiring mind. Inquisitor the Second, one Brian Clark, learned well and let no question go unasked. But one question must be asked of the Inquisitor, himself:  What will he do with his ’stache?

Steve Peters is a Partner and Chief Experience Architect at No Mimes Media. A pioneering force in the Alternate Reality Game/Cross-Media Entertainment genre, Steve has worked on some of the biggest and most successful interactive experiences to date, including Why So Serious (for the feature film The Dark Knight), Year Zero (for the Nine Inch Nail album of the same name), The Vanishing Point, and Dead Man’s Tale (for Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man’s Chest).

He founded the Alternate Reality Gaming Network in 2002, has contributed to books and articles on the subject, and has been interviewed by everyone from G4-TV to WIRED to the Los Angeles Times. Past projects have won multiple awards, including a Cannes Lions Grand Prix Award, One Show Entertainment Awards, and Webby Awards.

Prior to co-founding No Mimes Media, Steve was Director of Experience Design at 42 Entertainment and founder of Vital Interactive Media, a multimedia production company that developed music and audio content for television, theater, and computer games/applications.

Now accepting Panel & Presentation ideas!

April 7th, 2010

If you have a great idea for a panel or presentation at ARGFest 2010 (and we know you do!), then we want to hear from you. We’ve even set up a handy dandy panel submission form for you to use. It’s easy! Just tell us a bit about who you are and what you’d like to talk about or hear others talk about. Sure, it’s called a panel submission form, but you can use it for presentations or round tables or whatever else you might have in mind. So put your thinking caps on and then head on over to the Panel Submission page. The more ideas we get from you, the better ARGFest will be!

Submissions will accepted until May 1st and reviewed on a rolling basis. So, the sooner you get your ideas in, the better chance you’ll have of seeing it happen. If you have any questions, check out our Panel Submission FAQ and, if that doesn’t help, contact us. We’re glad to help!

Getting Excited for ARGFest

March 15th, 2010

The announcement has been made… ARGFest 2010 will be in Atlanta, GA! So book your tickets and mark your calendars for July 15-18. It’s going to be a blast and you aren’t going to want to miss it.

This year is the first year that we are, officially, spreading beyond the weekend. Its been harder and harder to fit everything we want to do into two days and, well, we gave up trying. Based on feedback & suggestions from last year, we’re doing more to make it friendly for both the thinkers & the players… a full-fledged conference combined with a full-fledged games festival into one big blast.

The schedule & logistics are still be worked out (expect details shortly!), but it’s going to look something like this:

Thursday & Friday will be dedicated to the thinking. Saturday & Sunday will be dedicated to the playing. There will, of course, be a bit of cross-over, with fun things happening on Thursday & Friday and space available for unconference style sessions on Saturday. But, one way to think about it is that we’re going to start off all serious (or, well, as serious as we can be) and have more and more fun as the days go on until Sunday when we’re all play (and food! and friends!). There’s going to be so much going on and we’re sure that you’re not going to want to miss a second of it!

We can hardly wait!

So, what does this mean? It means that there’s time for more of everything and we’re going to need your help to make that happen! We need speakers and sessions and games and sponsors. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see a flurry of activity as we announce key bits of information and get up our panel & game submission forms. In the mean time, think about what you’d like to see or what you’d like to play. If you’re a game designer, definitely think about games you can showcase (the festival will be similar to Come Out and Play or igfest – location based games, big scavenger hunts, fun field games and the like). If your company would like to help us out by being a sponsor – please get in touch! We’re in immediate need of funds to secure venues & vendors. And, if you want to host one of the networking events or parties, better to get on that sooner rather than later.

More soon!

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