A new video game designed by a GW father and featuring GW students will serve as an interactive storyline for collections in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Ghosts of a Chance – an alternate reality game designed by John Maccabee, whose son is a student in the Elliott School of International Affairs – features four students from the Theatre and Dance Department and will run for six weeks at the Smithsonian. The game is set to be released Monday.
Alternate reality games combine virtual environments with real-world experiences, and initially became popular as a method to promote various products. As with most ARGs, the story of Ghosts of a Chance can be found online, with characters’ blogs, social networking sites and video clips playing vital roles to discovering the bigger picture behind the game. Players can then visit the Smithsonian to fill in the puzzle and figure out the story themselves.
“They’re tailor-made for contemporary university students,” said Maccabee, who created the game with his San Francisco-based company, CityMystery.
The GW parent developed a small ARG at last year’s Alumni Weekend. He said he was so impressed with the GW students he worked with during the project that he wrote them into his new ARG game.
Maccabee, a published novelist, said he became intrigued with the concept of ARGs several years ago and saw them as the future of storytelling. He said he hopes to attract as many as 1,000 virtual players in Ghosts of a Chance.
The game’s run will include live events at the Smithsonian, where players will tour parts of the museum never shown to the general public.
“The idea that there was this separate world which I would be playing a part in was very intriguing,” said Alex Cohen-Smith, a senior theater student involved in the project.
The roles of the GW characters has been kept secret and will be gradually revealed to players.
In the ARG world, it is important to keep the details of the game a secret before its launch. The slightest information leak can be transmitted within seconds among the most intense players. Even the GW student actors weren’t given complete information about their characters.