This is our schedule of events for the weekend of ARGFest-o-Con 2011. This section will update as new information is released, so check back often.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Social Events

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Kick-Off Party
This is our official start to ARGFest-o-Con 2011. Held in the Frangipani room at the Biddle Conference Centre, this is where attendees get to mingle, catch up, or meet for the very first time.

This year, there will be a special event by Awkward Hug that will let you kick-off ARG Fest-o-Con with a lil’ dancing! A Wisconsin Hustle is a party game that tests both your memory skills and your dancing ability. With your deck of dance cards in hand – challenge an opponent, find a judge, and dance off with your pants off (or on). Awkward Hug will also be giving out a demo of the Android phone version of the game (full version to be released Fall 2011).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Conference Sessions

Our conference sessions this year include a variety of fantastic speakers as well as some rather interesting presentations. As in previous years, most sessions will include Q&A time, which will be started by our Grand Inquisitor Andrea Phillips.

9:30 am – 10:20 am

Using ARGs for Marketing: Where Brands, Consumers, and Play Meet
David Varela and Sarah Smith-Robbins will discuss the benefits and obstacles related to using ARGs in consumer marketing. Where do brands succeed? Where do they fail? We will discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly among brand-based ARGs. We’ll debate whether brands know how to play and whether brands have any business in ARGs at all. The panel will be moderated by Edward Castronova and questions from the audience are welcome.

10:30 am – 10:55 am

Transmedia Patter
John Maccabee, the CEO of CityMystery, has something special prepared for ARGFest-o-Con 2011. We don’t want to give away any secrets, so be there to find out what he has in store!

11:10 am – 11:35 am

Let Your Players Play
Presented by Ian Pottmeyer. If you add interaction to your game just to keep your players from moving through your content too fast, then you’re missing one of your most important tools as a puppetmaster. Game designers have been experimenting with how player interaction can affect an experience for decades, and it’s time to bring what they’ve learned back into ARGs. Well designed gameplay can enhance storytelling in a way that players will find unforgettable. This is a crash course in the game design techniques most relevant to puppetmasters, so they can create the most meaningful and fun player experience possible.

1:00 pm – 1:50 pm

ARGs in Education
In this discussion Ted Castronova and Drew Davidson will explore ARGs and their relation to education and learning. Ted Castronova will review the contemporary big state university as if it were an ARG.Looking at the advances in technology, the line between tutorial, training and teaching is vanishing. Drew Davidson will explore the dynamics of learning and how they closely mirror the mechanics in gameplay, and how you can design ARGs to make the most of these similarities to create engaging educational experiences. Throughout, we’ll use examples from both games and education to illustrate how they can work well together.

2:00 pm – 2:50 pm

The Pitfalls of Building Transmedia Projects
This panel features Andrea Phillips, Rob Jagnow and Tony Walsh. Share the lessons learned from the experiences of these three designers of diverse transmedia projects affiliated with TV, movies and games. Get insights into player psychology, building and maintaining a community, puzzle-design strategies, hacker defenses and other lessons from both recent and veteran ARG designers. Moderated by Dee Cook.

3:00 pm – 3:25 pm

Videocast – Lance Weiler
While Lance could not find his way to Bloomington, we are happy to have him part of our conference schedule in virtual form. Lance will talk about his films, the Workbook Project, DIY Days, and a few things you’ve never heard of before.

3:30 pm – 4:20 pm

Remembering The Beast
A generation ago, The Beast launched as a promotion for the movie A.I., and a genre was born. Many people consider The Beast to be the start of the genre we call alternate reality gaming, and ten years later, it’s still looked at as one of the finest interactive narratives of all time. Aliendial, Andrea Phillips and Marie Lamb were all there, and will give you a snapshot of their experiences. Moderated by Sean Stacey.

Social Events

6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Keynote Dinner – “Getting to Good”
Novelist and screenwriter J.C. Hutchins shares the peculiar story of how he became a professional transmedia storyteller, and offers tips on how you can “go pro” with your own creative ambitions.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Festival Sessions

We will be offering a number of Festival sessions on Saturday, including presentations and interactive activities.

9:30 am – 10:30 am

10:30 am – 11:30 am

Documentary Film Screening
Remix Fiction (The Martin Aggett Story) has partnered with director Jeromy Barber (Maddison Atkins) to create a documentary film that follows the development of three independent Alternate Reality games and showcases the ARG player community. The film is still in development and the duo will be shooting interviews and other footage during ARGFest-o-Con. On Saturday morning they are going to screen some of the footage that they’ve shot over the past year that highlights the work of indie game designers Jim Babb (Must Love Robots, Socks Inc) and Pistolsniffer Industries (Purity Towers, LARP HARD). The film is in its early stages and what they are going to show you is very rough, but they want to give attendees an opportunity to see what they have so far. The session will include a screening of the raw footage and a Q/A and feedback portion to help them determine the future of the film.

9:30 am – 10:20 am

Taming the Butterfly
Presented by Kevin Makice & Christian Briggs. Taming the Butterfly is a week-long ARG designed to engage diverse corners of an Indiana community in improving their digital fluencies. We use a narrative involving a time traveler from 2036, reaching back to citizens today to fix her world. Small groups are assigned and rewarded for meaningful online activity, including the successful completion of daily puzzles, as they develop a plan to shape the future. A series of half-hour workshops entice digital novices into the game.

10:30 am – 10:55 am

Reality as a story-telling medium
Presented by Reed Berkowitz. This talk is about using reality as a story-telling medium. It explores how reality can be considered a medium, how an “experience story” differs from “genuine” experiences, how reality is “mediated”, how ARGs work within this framework, and where this form of fiction may be heading in the next few years in regards to new technologies. It will also attempt to explain what the allure is of experiencing a mediated version of reality versus reality itself. Where the psychological drive comes from and how designers can be more sensitive to those needs.

11:10 am – 11:35 am

Swag: How “Stuff” Has Defined an Entire Genre
Presented by Kyle Woollums. When researching any popular alternate reality game, one common thing appears: “swag.” Swag, or free, in-game gifts from an ARG has remained an important aspect of the genre since its very inception. Why are these physical items so important? How do participants react to them? And can an ARG exist without them? Though study and careful analysis of current and past use of swag, as well as player opinions and reactions, this workshop will attempt to answer the aforementioned questions and approach the deeper meaning and significance of swag. Areas to be covered: Origins of swag; Recent applications; The technique of swag; A swagless ARG?; Culture and swag

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

It’s the return of the city-wide scavenger hunt attendees love to take part in! FestQuest is an ARGFest-o-Con tradition that dates back to the earliest days of the event, and this year we are stoked to have local partners planning a fun and exciting afternoon of puzzle solving, code-breaking and sight-seeing!

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Bloomington Independent Game Night
The Bloomington Independent Game Night (or BIG Night) is an evening where local game developers get together to share their projects. This could mean a short presentation on an ongoing project, or an actual playable demo for attendees to enjoy. ARGFest-o-Con 2011 attendees will be given the chance to showcase games of their own as well, with more details to come about how you can get in on the action. This will be a fun session with lots of exposure to all types of gaming.
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