By Haley Moore, June 26th, 2010

The other day, I got a piece of totally awesome swag in the mail.  It was a postcard of a sock puppet, along with a totally awesome boy scout style patch of 011iver from Must Love Robots!

I didn’t need the patch to recognize the signature design elements of a piece of loot from Awkward Hug, the indie ARG creators who brought us Must Love Robots (complete with robot speed dating) last year.  They have a certain flair for the handcrafted, and incorporate it into the props, sets and costumes for their games.

The game, called Socks, Inc., plans to use user-created video assets as a major part of its gameplay, but like the lauded Top Secret Dance-Off, players won’t be asked to show their faces on camera.  Everyone will play through sock puppet avatars that they create themselves, an idea that seems to follow from the few players in Must Love Robots who interacted online in robot costume.  It’s an idea that runs transmedia up against DIY culture in a very enticing way.

Unfortunately, anyone lucky enough to get one of these packages doesn’t get to jump into the game right away.  The mailing sends you straight to the game’s Kickstarter page, where you can check out a video describing the ARG’s gameplay and pledge to back it.  This may be the first Alternate Reality Game funded through Kickstarter.

The other notable difference between Socks, Inc. and usual ARG fare, is that people who donate to the game through Kickstarter are also offered access to a behind-the-scenes blog for the game, effectively eliminating the element of creator anonymity that was key to early ARGs.

However, if there is a group that can go against the grain and still produce something excellent, it is Awkward Hug.  Their writing is playful, personal, and funny, never overly serious.  You probably won’t be asked to save the world, but you will have a good time.

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Posted in design experience gaming

Haley Moore is a newspaper reporter, artist, and playwright based in north Texas. She has worked on several indie, fan and commercial Alternate Reality Games.

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COMMENTS

  • There is a big difference between incorporating Flash into a site and having a flash site. I think Brian is talking about purely Flash sites. Basically not HTML, all .SWF maybe embedded into an HTML page. The kinda of sites that are difficult to update.

    If they are inserting dynamic text into the flash program and making it easy to update I don't think that's a pure flash site and not what he's talking about...

    Though I think Caspar is right that Flash shouldn't be demonized, it is something that should be used judiciously. It can be a cpu and memory hog for the user's computer if it's not done right and it's VERY EASY to NOT do right.

    I love Flash, but it should be a tool. Not an end.

  • hey lance,

    as a rather long in the tooth website designer i just wanted to point out that for the last 2-3 years a great deal of the issues you have with flash have been resolved. RSS feeds, deep linking, reduced loading times (if any), good performance (even on slow machines), owner updatable content, searchable content, right clicking ... it's all a very real possibility, even in film websites.

    therefore i think your article should not be attacking flash as a medium, it should be attacking the designers who have been employed to put the piece together, and the film makers who commissioned them. all i see when i look at the sites you've provided as examples is a great lack of ambition & foresight.

    that said i've been asked myself to produce sites that suffer the limitations you speak of, but often the client doesn't understand when i try & explain just WHY the piece will be lacking if we don't restructure it to be more open ended. they too just see flash as doing one thing only & aren't thinking of the people who want 'more' from it.

    all in all i'd say people just need to be educated better on what flash can do and designers need to be more proactive in learning their trade better & educating their clients on the potential of the platform. let's not spread untruths about flash, but rather learn how to actually use it properly & to the best ends.

    cheers,

    caspar

  • I've been saying this for a while. If for no other reason, flash isn't search engine friendly.

    Check out Lutz and Balls, Paranormal Investigators:
    http://tinyurl.com/56d5uv

  • Ironically enough, this was excatly the way we set up our production blog for the Bloodwine movie project. Check out our little web space here:

    http://www.bloodwinemovie.com/

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