Public Intellectual Activity, Douglas Rushkoff is well-known for his insightful books and documentaries about how cultures, people, and institutions shape values in the digital age. Since his 1994 observational book Cyberia, Rushkoff has often been at the forefront of digital counterculture. His latest book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, provides clear, actionable ways to master technology before it masters us.
Recently, Rushkoff collaborated with games production company Smoking Gun Interactive to create an experimental alternate reality game (ARG) and graphic novel “proof of concept,” Exoriare. After chatting very briefly about ARGs at the eBook Summit last week in New York City, I thought our readers would enjoy a more focused e-mail interview with Rushkoff about his experience with Exoriare, ARGs, and play.
Jane Doh: For Exoriare, even though you have the writer credit for the graphic novel, how involved were you in the writing or the design of the Darknet ARG? Was the development of both elements concurrent, or did one come before the other?
Douglas Rushkoff: The initial concept for the story behind the Darknet ARG was already developed when I came on. I ended up writing a graphic novel for which the characters of that story were more tangential than central; their plight was of concern to my characters, but I had another story going on. That story got adjusted a bit to accommodate my timeline, and my intentions for a story that was to span four to six graphic novels.
Where we did collaborate a lot, though, was on the role of the player/reader. It was important to me that my graphic novel end with the beginning of the game – the last frame is to be the computer screen on which the game is played, with the player as an active member of a resistance group, reaching out to others through the Darknet.
I wanted the reader to be more than an uninvolved third person, but someone with a stake in the story. I also wanted the story itself to give the player an idea of his or her own back story, or to be able to imagine one based on the timeline they experienced over the first book.
So the ARG had to support this notion of people coming together to fight a very new kind of war.
JD: What were your impressions of the collaborative creative process for Exoriare? How did the form of the content, its delivery, its interactivity, affect the course of development and creation?
Read the full post on: ARGNet: Alternate Reality Gaming Network