Comments on: ARGs, Archives, and Digital Scholarship The Humanities and Technology Camp Tue, 08 Mar 2011 21:52:08 +0000 hourly 1 By: Alex Leavitt Mon, 24 May 2010 23:40:45 +0000 Hey Zach,

Just looking over some post-THATcamp documents (I was set to go but had to pull out last minute). I’ve had some similar thoughts ( if you’re interested in reading.


By: Mark Sample Fri, 21 May 2010 18:10:53 +0000 I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier, but Omeka as an ARGHive platform is worth investigating. It’d be possible to collect all sorts of items and documents, and then every student/scholar could curate their own path through the ARGHive that reflects their experience with the ARG.

By: Zach Whalen Fri, 21 May 2010 15:11:01 +0000 @Mark Sample – Yeah, I’ve thought of that too. What would be awesome is a straightfroward Zotero->Omeka export, since the beauty of Zotero is its ease in capturing web resource.

So as a hacking project, some kind of Omeka-as-ARGhive process would be cool, or even just a conversation about an Omeka-fied workflow for ARG play.

By: Mark Sample Fri, 21 May 2010 00:06:28 +0000 @Zach Whalen – Oh, man, you’re right about “The 21 Steps”! I hope it’s broken only temporarily, because it’s such a great model for using maps as a narrative platform.

@tjowens – Indeed, there are some heavy epistemological questions hanging over the heads of scholars studying ARGs! Is an ARG a text? A game? A performance? A community? A platform?

An ethnographic approach (with interviews of participants, observations of key convergences in the physical world, etc.) should certainly be critical to a fuller understanding of ARGs, their implications, and the investments of the people who play them. It sounds like Zach’s idea of the ARGHive wouldn’t exclude the ethnographic side of things. I don’t think the ARGHive necessarily preserves an ARG so much as it gives a latecomer an approximation of how the ARG went down. Participating in World without Oil back when it was live was one thing; reading the blog archives and lesson plans now is quite another (an impoverished experience, I can tell you); but an ARGHive might be somewhere in between.

By: tjowens Thu, 20 May 2010 19:10:18 +0000 Sounds fun. My first thought is to question if archiving is what we should be striving for. Does it make more sense to think about these experiences from an anthropological perspective? Ethnographers don’t try to preserve cultures, they try to record experiences. Does it make more sense to record experiences of ARGs, preserve those recorded experiences, and then focus ways of analyzing and preserving them instead of the ARG itself.

By: Zach Whalen Thu, 20 May 2010 15:43:28 +0000 @tjowens – That’s my question as well, but I suppose it’s a way of displacing an answer to your implied question, What do we mean by “the ARG itself?” Is the ARG the experience of a community of players, or is it a set of artifacts which document the experience of a group of players and how they relate to some artifacts? This is the kind of question that could lead is straight into some ludology/narratology formalisms, so I’m (at least for now) trying to focus on the practical. But you’re right, that’s the big question, and ethnography is in important disciplinary angle I haven’t given enough thought to.

@Mark Sample – I’m glad you brought up 21 Steps because I’ve been meaning to ask — has it stopped working, or is it just me? I can’t get it to finish loading, and I’ve tried with multiple OS’s. (Could be a Flash versioning problem?)

Anyway, the geospatial aspect of an archive would be important to many ARGhives, I’m sure, so I’m interested to learn more about things like the new map plugin for Zotero and Neatline.

@Alex – The “reality emulator” was kind of a throwaway line, but if you like it, let’s run with it! Wouldn’t the Holodeck be a reality simulator, though? For us to emulate reality, we’d have to uncover the foundational processes of reality (as a system), and then find a way to execute those on some other platform than reality — which to me sounds like a hard thing to do. 🙂

More seriously, though, I’ve been trying to make something of oft-repeated definition of ARGs as “games that use the real world as a platform” (as opposed to, say, Heavy Rain, which uses a PS3 as its platform). If we think of that definition as more than a clever turn of phrase, it’s interesting to imagine a platform study of reality.

By: Mark Sample Thu, 20 May 2010 14:28:37 +0000 You’ve nailed the problem with talking about ARGs in a critical way: “ARGHives [in whatever form they currently take] aren’t good at conveying the text of an ARG to everyone else, and this is a problem for ARG scholarship.” Every conference presentation I’ve seen on an ARG spends so much of its time explaining the premise and the setup and the logistics of the ARG, that no energy is spent analyzing it either as a performance or a kind of text.

Failing the creation of an emulator to reproduce the unfolding of a fake reality, I wonder what we can learn from the world of digital storytelling. There are several “lifestreaming” platforms (including a few open source ones) and I wonder if these could be used to recapture the narrative unfolding of an ARG.

Also, depending on the format of the ARG, maybe Google Maps makes sense as a narrative platform for recreating the events and documents of an ARG across space and time. I’m thinking, for example, Charles Cumming’s The 21 Steps might be an instructive model.

In any case, this session sounds great, and fits in with my own interest in geolocation and locative media.

By: Alex Thu, 20 May 2010 13:59:00 +0000 I would love to attend this panel. I’ve long been interested in ARGs, specifically for the sort of reality-line-blurring involved.

Also, I’m fascinated by your idea of a Reality Emulator. Holodeck, anyone?