Over the past decade, non-profit organizations have used alternate reality games (ARG) to raise awareness on the risks of climate change. This new form of content creation leverages the mass adoption of mobility and real-time access to social networks, tools and resources that have previously been unavailable to technologists, designers, and artists who produce ARGs. This dissertation explores how advances in Human Computer Interaction can be applied to the design of these ARGs. Focusing on the narrative structure, this multiple case study asks, what are the considerations alternate reality game designers have (if any), when designing the games, they make? The validity and utility of this research is presented through three cases: Future Coast (2014) explores the future of climate change, supported by the National Science Foundation; The Disaster Resilience Journal (2014) catalogued forty-two days of journal entries emphasising emergency preparedness, supported by the European Commission’s Department for Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection; and Techno Medicine Wheel (2009) teaches aboriginal values as living history, supported by The Aboriginal Media Lab in Cyber Space. Within each case I analyze two units of data 1) the designers’ interviews and 2) the game’s trajectory. Previous research on mixed reality experiences (Benford et al. 2011) focused primarily on the trajectory of plot points through the duration of the game. This study contributes a unique focus, addressing characteristics such as plot points that engage fans in and out of collective problem solving activities. The study also includes a clear description of the benefits of working under the guiding influence of a non-profit organizations. Finally, this study provides methodological strategies to collect and analyze ARG design, post-mortem. Thus, findings provide certain substantial characteristics that demonstrate how the practices of designers are transcoding place through their creative use of digital media.
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