Storytelling in new media: The case of alternate reality games, 2001–2009

  • Jeffrey Kim University of Washington
  • Elan Lee Fourth Wall Studios
  • Timothy Thomas University of Washington
  • Caroline Dombrowski University of Washington
Keywords: globalization, markets, communication technology, collaboration, open source collaboration, Alternate Reality Games

Abstract

New media allows previously passive consumers to tell and shape stories together. Yet most information is still disseminated in a top-down fashion, without taking advantage of the features enabled by new media. This paper presents five Alternate Reality Game (ARG) case studies which reveal common features and mechanisms used to attract and retain diverse players, to create task-focused communities and to solve problems collectively. Voluntary, collective problem solving is an intriguing phenomenon wherein disparate individuals work together asynchronously to solve problems together. ARGs also take advantage of the unique features of new media to craft stories that could not be told using other media.

Author Biographies

Jeffrey Kim, University of Washington
Jeffrey Kim, Ph.D., is the Director of the Institute for National Security Education and Research and a Senior Lecturer at the Information School at the University of Washington.
Elan Lee, Fourth Wall Studios
Elan Lee is one of the foremost Alternate Reality Game designers and founder of Fourth Wall Studios.
Timothy Thomas, University of Washington
Timothy Thomas is a CIA Officer in Residence at the University of Washington.
Caroline Dombrowski, University of Washington
Caroline Dombrowski is a Research Project Manager at the University of Washington.
Published
2009-05-17
How to Cite
Kim, J., Lee, E., Thomas, T., & Dombrowski, C. (2009). Storytelling in new media: The case of alternate reality games, 2001–2009. First Monday, 14(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v14i6.2484