SCT #12: The Ethics of ARGs

In episode 12 of Social Change Technology Dr Burcu Bakioglu (Postdoctoral Fellow in New Media at Lawrence University) returns to talk to Andrea Phillips the award-winning transmedia writer, Alternate Reality Game designer and author.

This podcast focuses on some of the fascinating ethical and legal issues brought about by ARGs (Alternate Reality Games).  What makes ARGs unique is that they are played out in the physical world but they inhabit a conceptual spaces that not only sits somewhere between fiction and reality but actively blurs the boundaries between the two. In the podcast Andrea draws on case studies of actual ARGs to ask  - can you sign a friend up for a game that might make them feel threatened? Should players every be asked to break real-world rules, if so, which ones? And, if you listen to your lawyers and add a legal disclaimer to every part of your game – is the fiction shattered, ruining the game for everyone?

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Andrea Phillips
Andrea Phillips is transmedia writer, game designer and author. Her work includes a variety of educational and commercial projects, including Floating City with Thomas Dolby, The Maester’s Path for HBO’s Game of Thrones with Campfire Media, The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour Quest with Stitch Media, America 2049 with human rights nonprofit Breakthrough, Routes Game for Channel 4 Education, the independent commercial ARG Perplex City, and The 2012 Experience for Sony Pictures.

These projects have variously won the Prix Jeunesse Interactivity Prize, a Broadband Digital award, a BIMA, an IVCA Grand Prix award, the Origins Vanguard Innovation Award, and others. Two of her projects have been nominated for BAFTAs but not won. Andrea is a co-moderator for the first community of ARG players, the Cloudmakers. This 6,000-member group created many of the methods and social dynamics used by the ARG community to this day. She is also a Fellow of the Futures of Entertainment. Source:

A Creator’s Guide To Transmedia Storytellingis the first major, comprehensive resource to feature instruction on the principles of storytelling, platform selection, execution, big-picture strategy and structural considerations — plus case studies of milestone transmedia projects and interviews with more than a dozen leading transmedia creators. Source:
Shiva’s Mother and other storiesis a collection of moody, sometimes dark short stories about technology, magic, choice and sacrifice. Journey from cutting-edge nanotech to faery and back again, along the line where science fiction and fantasy blur together. Source:
Dr Burcu Bakioglu
Burcu is a researcher examining the social, cultural, and economic variables that affect the production of cross-media experiences. Burcu’s research adopts a broader understanding of virtual spaces that includes not only 3D environments but also printed works and social media, as ultimately, these platforms generate virtual spaces in which users can produce and share various visual representations and experiences. As such, the collaborative storytelling initiatives that are taking place through these platforms facilitate the online performances of any given work, thereby enabling it to come alive, albeit within slightly different contexts. Burcu is Postdoctoral Fellow in New Media at Lawrence University.

Show Links

<< Episode #11
Legal News Round up with Jas Purewal
All Episodes Episode #13>>
The Digital Rights Movement

Podcast music: “For the Horde” kindly provided by 100 Robots.

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