You may have noticed that I’ve had two ‘gas related’ posts in the last week. The issue of gas is definately on my mind. However, it just so happens that it coincides with a new ARG(ish) project called World Without Oil. I say it’s ‘ish’ because while it involves a story and interaction, at this point there aren’t the classic puzzles.
What makes WWO unique is that it’s using a game to make people aware of the possibility of an actual event. Rather than waiting until it actually happens, it allows people to reflect and play a ‘what if’. What if there WAS a gas crisis and how would we react to it. Could we be just around the corner from roving gas-stealing mobs in the street, ethanol producing co-ops and economic instability? It’s a very real possibility. WWO is also sponsered by the Coporation for Public Broadcasting, and unlike alot of other ARGs who try to hide the fact that they are a game, this one has had alot of press because of it’s socially conscious nature.
Here’s a few links about it, including an interview with a designer:
Provocative politics in virtual games
* Provocative Politics
Interviews with Jane McGonigal:
* Interview 1 (Information Week) – Interview 2 (Gamasutra) – Interview 3 (SFWeekly)
WWO takes place over the next two months, and explores (in accelerated time) a world that is coming to grips with such a crisis. Rather than develop all the story themselves, the project allows indivduals to post how the gas crisis is affecting them. They can post blog entries, voicemails, videos, pictures, you name it. This gives you the ‘world wide’ impact. The line becomes blurred, because intermixed within the real events and how gas prices are affecting you today, are the fictional accounts of what’s happening in the fictional future. You can usually tell from people’s entries whether it’s fictional or not. There are some core characters who are running the website and posting development entries to keep the timeline on track though. So while it’s very possible to get lost within all the ‘player’ information, you can follow the ‘character’ information a little more closely, and just bridge out when you want to.
Bottom line is that it makes you think ‘what if’. It’s a scary proposition. There are some great ideas and responses out there, and I encourage you to read/listen to them.
When I post with a ‘WorldWithoutOil’ tag, I actually submit the post to the website and it gets reviewed and then added to the overall story. You can follow stories by region and see if your area is in trouble. My posts get accumulated in the Philadelphia Region. As of this post, our region is ranked Chaos (Very Low), Misery (Very Low) and Economy (Good). As the story progresses we may not fare so well. I’ve got 3 entries so far that have been approved and a few more coming.
I’m not taking the fictional approach though, my entries are really thoughts on what if. What if I have to protect my family? What if I lose my job? What if I can’t put food on my dinner table?