Bad News Reflection

When attending the Bad News Demonstration, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had read the description of the event but did not really know what it meant; that is because it is very hard to categorize what took place in that room. The event link described it as having Wizard of Oz techniques, this means that there is some all-powerful world maker that can alter the game at their own discretion. In this demonstration, one participant from the crowd was selected. The whole concept of the game is that someone has died, the player does not know who, and they must find the next of kin of the deceased and communicate what happened. For this a whole world is created. This is done by live coding of one of the game makers. This world is so complex that the code generates 100 years of history in a matter of seconds. This includes everything from physical appearances to love interests to knowledge of other people in the town. The coder then communicates details about the world such as the deceased, next off kin, and other important details to an actor who acts all of this out to the player so that they can decipher the clues and figure out who the next of kin is so that they can ultimately win the game.

Because I was not picked as the participant, I was able to observe all of this from the position of the game maker. This was very interesting because I knew who the next of kin was from the beginning and the audience along with the coder and actor had to figure out ways to clue the player. By seeing the other side of an alternate reality game, I was able to see all of the improvisation that goes into an ARG. I found that actually in most cases throughout the game, the game makers were working much harder than the player was. This connects back to our readings about the improvisation associated with ARGs and the fact that the game makers job is not complete until the game is completely finished. This could not have been any truer for the Bad News ARG because going into the game, nothing had been set up. The actor had not been informed of the deceased. The coder had not done any of the coding needed yet. The world that this ARG would take place in had not even been created yet. This caused the game makers to scramble in order to stay ahead of the player. This dynamic is very different than any ARG I had seen to this point. In my opinion, I think being the player would have been significantly less interesting because the best part of the game was trying to come up with clues that the player would understand but were not too easy.

It was also very interesting to observe the actor and how he presented the clues that we gave him. This is a classic example of bleeding in. He took the very plain information that we gave him and tied it into elaborate clues and riddles. The actor also seemed to be yelling throughout the entire presentation. I thought all of this was for effect and thought he executed his role perfectly. After the game was over, he came out for a Q&A. In this I found that his personality matched that of the roles he played almost perfectly. It was clear that he took his own personality and reflected it into his acting.

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