"Max Cohen a local citizen of Coleraine, begins to write about his experiences of a particular illness he’s experiencing during March 2012.
Attempting to get his life back on track and do something productive, proving that he is not completely worthless to his girlfriend Sara.
However as his illness fades it becomes clear to him that this may not be any common cold or flu and he may in fact be the single person to save the small city of spreading infection."
My dissertation I researched into what makes Alternative Realities so immersive and what can be learnt from them as an educational resource.
Using transmedia and social networking I developed an Alternate Reality based in Coleraine.
Revulsive on Carriage is an experience of survival, teamwork and safety, participants work along with Max following his video and blog posts, to save themselves from a deadly virus that’s sweeping the city.
Each challenge completed teaches users self reflection of personal skills, appropriate home safety checks, evacuation methods, logical, computational and lateral thinking, social networking and software use, along with social teambuilding among fellow participants.
2nd April 2012
Day one challenged users to re-create their own attributes sheet similar to statistics found in typical Role Playing character sheets.
Participants were asked to reflect their attributes as close as they found their personal skills related to those on the sheet.
Points were allocated by purchasing Orange and Lime Tic Tacs which categorised players into 'Infected' or 'Healthy' groups.
By creating an attributes sheet, participants reflected deeply into their personalities, allocating each point to what they believed were weak or strong points about themselves.
These attributes can be used for personal interviews, Job applications and self improvement.
Day three challenged any infected to attack anyone by the gesture of a hug, this implied that anyone who wasn't playing the ARG were potentially to be attacked by infected, thus including more participants into the game.
Participants were asked a series of questions that related to their Attributes inside the Facebook Page,
some of these were logical questions which required logical thinking whereas some were purely meant as collective role play to
encourage players to interact with each other in as a team effort.
Wednesday also included a live interaction with the lead character via Ustream, participants invited themselves to suspend their belief for one night and interact with the character on a new level.
They were able to ask questions and follow live feedback from Max on webcam.
Unfortunately only one person was able to infect someone else, that being the creator of the ARG.
However a lot of interest was gained from the Facebook page where originally some participants shy'ed away from posting.
By working together, solving puzzles and role playing the scenarios with their best Attributes in mind
members were able to distinguish what other skills could be used if their statistic checks failed.
Participants engaged fully with the live stream, asking questions of the source infection, secondary characters and points which the developer hadn't imagined. Any broken content or poor story plot could have been revealed during this interview.
Day four updated with a scenario that implied both bridges of entry from East Coleraine had been closed off by escaping gas leaks from Coleraine Hospital. Participants were asked to create their own gas masks and display how they would survive a potential gas leak.
Included on the blog was a hidden message embedded within YouTube video, an advertisement which contained the word "corporate".
Entering the code word into the (url) you recieve an information page about daily gases and how they can affect the environment. Creating awareness of these gases raises concern for readers hoping it will also raise interest in how we are currently treating our environment.
Participants uploaded a variety of content which featured plants inside plastic bags, Harry Potter references and Google map alternative routes towards Coleraine and ironically the pub, a reference to Shaun of the Dead we hope.
Day five was dedicated to the creation of a live trail which ran through Coleraine city, those who appeared on time for the phonecall event would be given a clue and challenged to sleuth
around the street to find the next clue. The end clue would reward their efforts with a dead drop containing a preview puzzle which would lead them to the vaccine source before others.
As the content ont the site was not upload untill the following day their efforts to solve the clue remained unsolved, providing a fake ending one day short.
Participants who viewed the trailer would know that there would be a phonecall event during the game, the background image displayed the location to the phoneboxes, Unfiction forums deciphered a secondary meaning of Revulsive On Carriage as 'Coleraine Grave Virus',
as we are currently in an age of constant online technology, a mobile was required and personal knowledge of the area was emphasised.
Those who followed the branching content online were aware of locations and quickly recognised each clue.
A dead drop revealed an image to be decoded using binary which spelled 'repulsive', enter it into the (URL) and you're on the way to finding the vaccination!
Max spells out a phrase in sign language, "Follow instructions to find vaccination". A visual display of how participants could present a message warning others of the infection. Those that deciphered braille on the side of the video would be re-directed to a page called 'redemption'.
Scheduled Saturday, content of the website would be uploaded. A page named 'repulsive', those who received and decoded the image would encounter a trail of questions.
Questions were asked from the back story and plot of the experence, the name of Mr Sanders wife? Questions included home safety measures, similar ARG mythologies, and emergency numbers. Get all these questions right, and you've found the vaccination source. (link)
Visual communication is secondary to audio, thwarted only because humans speak languages in the 21st century. Visual communication is extremely important, it can be viewed anywhere and anything can be understood as a semiotic domain.
Participants were asked to communicate their warnings without the use of audio and ingeniously submitted content that has been used for centuries, dance.
Once users aquired 'repulsive' their interactive knowledge continued to be questioned. The questions were designed similar to a small quiz or Attributes check, but this was checking your detail to
remember the information that was supplied during the past week.
Throughout launch of Revulsive on Carriage, automatic updates were constantly feeding through ITTT (link), this enabled tasks to report automatic reporting and posting in relation to the project.
If anyone posted on the Facebook Page, tweeted to the twitter account, posted an image or a blog post updated, it would automatically be saved as an event within Google calander. Each interaction was constantly reported.
This allowed the developer to view which days had more interaction compared to the amount of views that the website had using Google Analytics and Wordpress statistics.
Within Wordpress, a in site statistics counter is available to view where your audience arrives from, what they click within your blog posts, which posts are popular and which are not. As seen March 25th, Dying Breed update generated 100 views which would further exceed on March 30th by almost double. The highest view count in one day was April 2nd -3rd which exceeded to almost 250 hits.
As the view count gradually decreased it was evident that the blog and project reached worldwide to audiences living in America, Africa, Europe and Australia.
Facebook Timeline also includes it's in site statistics feedback which allows page creators to view how their content is being viewed and shared by the community. (link).
By using Google Documents, I created a spreadsheet which colour coded each submission and player contribution to the project. Some participants who liked the Facebook Page, never interacted however those that did, produced content that exceeded expetations and
featured predominantly in the 'High Awarding Community Submiited Content' Facebook Album.
This website that's featuring the Revulsive on Carriage project implemented Google Analytics to track each hit count and content that was being viewed by the general public. This allowed the developer to track who was reading the blog posts
and deciphering hidden information and engaging back to the website. Including total view count, where they were referred from, geographically and online. Their browser choice, some browsers do not display the appropriate content and this was feedback to the developer if it required change for a specific audience. Also which content was being viewed, and if the audience closed at certain pages due to difficulty or lack of interest.
When I began formulating this idea that I wanted to create an Alternate Reality which heavily influenced educational values. I hadn't exactly considered the amount of work
that I would be expected to produce. As this was a completely grass routes project with select help from friends and family as beta testers, my management of time became a critical
prioritized system in which I graphed allocated times for each project I considered.
What I enjoyed most about the project was developing my video editing skills, being able to produce a trailer professional enough to hook an audience in 4 minutes, previously a teaser was released
and presented before a live audience in Limavady Arts and Cultural Center before a film screening. No questions were asked on the night however a week later a full trailer was uploaded and interest grew immediately.
Unfortunately some of that interest assumed my video was a trailer for a short movie and asked if I required actors for infected.
As a design choice I decided to include prizes to entice my friends and family to interact, not in assumption that they wouldn't interact, but as a reward system which motivated their content.
To gain more interest an publicity I contacted local news agencies with information that I was producing a new project based in Coleraine. With my previous projects being displayed on every widescreen in the UK I felt this might
have an effect to get a bigger audience. Two replied and I was featured in one paper (link) I have no evidence that players who read the article interacted with Revulsive on Carriage, however any publicity
that I can have with my own personal work is worth breaking the magical curtain of Puppet Mastery, at least for a local county.
During the production of my website it was possible to view all my images by checking the directory. Thankfully my beta testers informed me of this and we decided to rename and organise the files accordingly to specific dates. Normally a website has one images folder and the html
those images from that folder, however with the creation of an ARG website negotiated the current norms to create a plethora of files required to keep the mystery.
Submissions that were favoured by the developers and Facebook followers had a chance to be entered into an album named 'High Awarding Community Submitted Media' (link). This was a small reward for those who
worked hard and put effort into their submissions including clearly reading the hidden information from each blog post. Some participants asked why I never chose any Attribute submissions, Attributes were designed to be closely reflected upon the participant creating them,
if any were to be uploaded as 'better' than another, it would be seen as demeaning to another who perhaps spent a large amount of effort reflecting their personality. By choosing not to award high standards to Attributes, each submission is equal and unique to their character.
One problem that was continually discussed was the introduction of Facebook Timeline, some participants were upset that their content wasn't being shown within the timeline, however by default and unable to be changed only content by the page itself will be viewed on the timeline unless changed
in the options by the user.
Wednesday introduced an element of player, character interaction. This was important from a participant perspective as they could engage instantly
with the character and receive feedback to their questions. By interacting, participants could relate with the character on screen and have a personal
connection with them, that connection enforces the participants will to stop the infection and help Max in his cause.
Thursday included a treasure hunt which 3 participants shown for, one participant stated that the immersive experience was broken momentarily
as the route that was taken to get into Coleraine was across the bridge. The same bridge that was posted earlier in the day that was stated to be 'closed off'.
During the end developer meet up, it was planned that a live stream would be hosted within the area of vaccination, that said the connection was faulty which was tested before hand. This issue could not be solved and participants who actively waited for the stream were let down,
as a secondary feedback system, tweets were sent out with images for those waiting for a livestream.
Overall, story was immersive, participants learned health and safety by actively engaging with every aspect and resource that Revulsive on Carriage made available as an Alternative Reality.