Alternate Reality Games as Simulations

Alternate Reality Games as Simulations

Mary Jo Dondlinger (Richland College, USA) and Scott Joseph Warren (University of North Texas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-322-7.ch018
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This chapter discusses Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as simulated experiences, and presents the conceptual framework that informed the design and development of an institutional capstone course aimed at fostering global thinking and real-world problem-solving skills. The course engages community college sophomores in a capstone experience in which learners design and develop an alternate reality game (ARG) based on the theme of global sustainability and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
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In two different locations across the city from one another, Joshua and Samantha open a website that they receive by e-mail from an anonymous source. The text of the site appears to be for a small company called Patton Industries. Each player opens an instant messenger client, finding the other’s icon glowing quietly. “How do we proceed?” Joshua types, his question flickering on-screen. “Revelation Strategy Two,” Samantha replies. “Sometimes, the link only shows itself when highlighted.” Running the cursor across the screen and holding the left mouse button, a blue highlight shadows the text until a blurry hyperlink appears. They click a barely visible word that glows in the corner of the website and a video begins to play that shows a dark forest, filled with pine trees. After a few seconds, it ends suddenly with a series of letters and numbers. They replay the video a few times, typing their thoughts back and forth to one another across the digital ether until they slow the last few frames down to half speed. A pale white, recognizable face reveals itself for a flash, but the eyes are deathly black. “We had better report this to the others,” Samantha says. “Something is wrong with the game. . .” What is the game? It’s an emerging genre of digital game known as an Alternate Reality Game (ARG)1. The skills involved in playing such games differ somewhat from those associated with more traditional forms of electronic gaming.

In the information age, the need to develop in learners the higher order thinking skills that translate into real-world problem-solving ability is more urgent than ever before (Dillon, 2006; Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991; The Safflund Institute, 2007). As early as 1991, the Secretary of Labor’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills found that basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics were the “irreducible minimum for anyone who wants to get even a low-skill job” but those skills were not a guarantee to either a career or access to higher education. Employer surveys continue to emphasize “thinking skills... [that] permit workers to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate complexity” are requisite to success in the global workplace (p. 14).

Moreover, the accountability movement in American education has driven educational institutions at all levels to examine what learning should be occurring at their institutions, devise means to measure that learning, and seek to continually improve the processes that have an impact on this learning (U.S. Department of Education, 2002; 2007). However, as a recent National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored report suggests, educational systems continually have to do more with less; although employers are demanding these additional skills, learning institutions have to instill those skills without adding additional credit hours or courses to their programs (The Safflund Institute, 2007). The means to achieving this end then is through changing instructional strategies in existing courses, and/or providing that vital added value through communications technologies, simulations, and other forms of digital media.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Rhonda Christensen, Gerald Knezek
Chapter 1
A Simulation Primer  (pages 1-24)
Katrin Becker, James R. Parker
This chapter provides an introduction to digital simulations for those interested in using or designing them for instructional purposes. There has... Sample PDF
A Simulation Primer
Chapter 2
Youngkyun Baek
This chapter expands upon the definition of a simulation with two categories: experiential and symbolic. It discusses the interactive, experiential... Sample PDF
Digital Simulation in Teaching and Learning
Chapter 3
Peter R. Albion
Interaction is fundamental to the learning process and game-like 3D online spaces present opportunities for enhancing learning through supporting a... Sample PDF
Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning
Chapter 4
David Williamson Shaffer
Multiculturalism is an essential tool for democratic citizenship in a world made ever more closely interconnected by information technologies. In... Sample PDF
Computers and the End of Progressive Education
Chapter 5
Celina Byers
The desired outcome of instructional game design is to combine the powerful attraction of games and the proven effectiveness of instructional system... Sample PDF
Combining Instructional Design and Game Design
Chapter 6
Helyn Gould, Michael Hughes, Paul Maharg, Emma Nicol
Game-based learning and simulation is a powerful mode of learning, used by industries as diverse as aviation and health sciences. While there are... Sample PDF
The Narrative Event Diagram: A Tool for Designing Professional Simulations
Chapter 7
David Gibson
In order for a digital simulation to provide an artificial teaching environment there needs to be a computational model of the act of teaching... Sample PDF
Modeling Classroom Behaviors in Software Agents
Chapter 8
Sara Dexter
The new technology-enhanced conception of assessment stands in contrast to the traditional view of assessments as tests of a learner’s ability to... Sample PDF
Design Principles for Interactive Learning Environments with Embedded Formative Assessments
Chapter 9
Penny deByl
Three-dimensional virtual learning environments provide students with pedagogic experiences beyond traditional two-dimensional textbook and Web page... Sample PDF
Hybrid 2D/3D Development of Interactive Simulations
Chapter 10
Len Annetta, James Minogue, Shawn Holmes, Meng-Tzu Cheng, Elizabeth Folta, Marta Klesath
This chapter will provide concrete examples of how a research group at North Carolina State University is using case studies as the... Sample PDF
Using Case Studies as the Narrative to Game Design and Development
Chapter 11
Mark Girod
Teacher education is currently facing pressures to demonstrate efficacy in preparing teachers who can affect P-12 student learning gains. Teacher... Sample PDF
Exploring Teacher Problem Solving Using Simulation
Chapter 12
Donguk Cheong, Bokyeong Kim
A computer simulation for improving teaching is expected to remove the potential negative effects on real students while creating an environment... Sample PDF
A Simulation for Improving Teachers' Motivational Skills
Chapter 13
Damián Piccolo, Anna Oskorus
Nearly half of all new teachers leave the field of education within the first five years (Ingersoll, 2003; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2005).... Sample PDF
Designing Commercial Simulations for Teachers
Chapter 14
Scott J. Warren, Richard A. Stein
This chapter discusses the design and use of simulated teaching experiences contextualized through role-play in a multi-user virtual environment as... Sample PDF
Simulating Teaching Experience with Role-Play
Chapter 15
Bokyeong Kim, Donguk Cheong
This chapter presents the theory, structure, and development process used in designing a teaching simulation. simClass was designed to help teachers... Sample PDF
simClass: Simulate Your Class Before You Teach
Chapter 16
Karen Schrier, Charles K. Kinzer
Teacher education that emphasizes the understanding and assessment of ethics can support the creation of an ethically aware and critically engaged... Sample PDF
Using Digital Games to Develop Ethical Teachers
Chapter 17
Shelby P. Morge
Recently adopted 21st Century goals stress the importance of preparing students for a globally competitive society by providing them with... Sample PDF
Modeling in the Classroom Using Squeak Etoys
Chapter 18
Mary Jo Dondlinger, Scott Joseph Warren
This chapter discusses Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as simulated experiences, and presents the conceptual framework that informed the design and... Sample PDF
Alternate Reality Games as Simulations
Chapter 19
Caitlin Kelleher
Self-directed, open-ended projects can enable students to pursue their own interests and lead to deep learning. However, it can be difficult to... Sample PDF
Supporting Open-Ended Programming Assignments
Chapter 20
Kay Kyeongju Seo, Aimee Byk, Chris Collins
How can one bring cognitive apprenticeship into the virtual world? This chapter addresses how to construct a 3D online digital environment that... Sample PDF
Cognitive Apprenticeship Inspired Simulations
Chapter 21
Jae Yeob Jung, Hyung Sung Park
The purpose of this chapter is to explore how learning, by making games, can provide opportunities for higher-order thinking such as problem... Sample PDF
Learning by Doing via Game Making
Chapter 22
Christian Sebastian Loh, Jae Hwan Byun
Game Modification, or Modding, is a unique and valuable way of learning with digital games as well as a means to earn beginners’ stripes in the game... Sample PDF
Modding Neverwinter Nights Into Serious Games
Chapter 23
Teresa Franklin, David Chelberg, Chang Liu
Virtual environments are a topic of discussion for many in the business and commerce fields. However, K-12 school systems have been slow to embrace... Sample PDF
Changing Middle School Science through STEAM
Chapter 24
David Gibson
This chapter discusses how a teaching simulation can embody core characteristics of a complex system. It employs examples of specific frameworks and... Sample PDF
Complex Systems Concepts in Simulations
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