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Using alternative reality games for research

March 11, 2007

Jane McConigal is one of the best known developers of ARGs (alternative reality games), she helped create “I love Bees” for Halo.

Jane now works at the Institute for the Future, where it looks as if she is playing with some really interesting ideas.

At last week’s GDC, she announced the launch of a new game entitled a World Without Oil, the game starts on April 30th, but the website is already up.

The game asks players to imagine solutions for a world where oil has run out or is about to run out.

Creating a game with lead characters, hundreds of players and lots of interesting changing scenarios, is a great way to encourage participation from a broad set of people.

The idea of a setting up an ARG to encourage consumer participation seems really smart and could have lots of other applications in business.

To date, brands have only used ARGs as a launch marketing tool- Halo with ILoveBees and Audi with “Art of the Heist” for the launch of the A3.

Perhaps these efforts are just scratching the surface of the potential for ARGs.

Currently, consumer participation/suggestion efforts designed by companies are fairly one dimensional; suggestion boards or boxes or competitions, these aren’t especially imaginative or dynamic.

Brand ARGs could be a way to encourage broad participation by consumers in the marketing process, by providing a rich and rewarding experience that encourages people to use their imaginations and imagine new products and services.

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