Alternate Reality: A Pervasive Play Project

Professor Sha Xin Wei, experimental phenomenologist & media artist, and Patrick Jagoda, (University of Chicago, Professor of English & New Media), collaborate on a year-long transmedia gaming project.

Over the course of 2012-13, Sha Xin Wei (Director of the Topological Media Lab, Canada Research Chair in Media Arts and Sciences, and Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Computer Science at Concordia University, Montreal) will be collaborating with Patrick Jagoda (Assistant Professor of English and Co-editor of Critical Inquiry) on an alternate reality gaming project. The fellowship will begin with a seminar that Sha and Jagoda are co-teaching in fall 2012, in which graduate and undergraduate students from a host of disciplines will collaborate on game design.  During the winter of 2013, Sha, Jagoda and a team of collaborators will conclude game design and post-production. In the early spring of '13, the transmedia game is slated to take place, to be followed by an international practicum on Play as a Mode of Inquiry Nov 1 - 3, '13. 

The interactive production created by Jagoda and Sha belongs to the emerging artistic form of Alternate Reality Games or Transmedia Games.  Unlike conventional digital games, these creative productions use the real world as their platform and tell a single story across numerous media and technologies. Such transmedia games are distinctive for their tightly networked collaborative communities, player-driven narratives, performance-oriented events, and interpenetration of real and virtual spaces.  This project is intended to explore the relations between digital media and space, the affordances of collective storytelling, the generation of new media theory through design, and the development of methodologies for studying the emergent art form of Alternate Reality Games.

Project Inventory

  • a team-taught course (Fall 2012) entitled Transmedia Games: Theory and Design, for graduate and undergraduate students, run through the Department of English and cross-listed in Creative Writing, Cinema & Media Studies, Theater & Performance Studies, and the Department of Visual Arts;
  • co-presentation on fellowship project in tandem with student performance event (choreographed by Sha’s frequent collaborator Michael Montanaro) at the opening of the Logan Center for the Arts, October 12, 2012;
  • introductory and recruitng event on December 6, 2012;
  • residency visits in winter 2013 by Sha and colleagues from the Topological Media Lab to collaborate on game design and post-production with Jagoda and a team of students;
  • residency visits in spring 2013 by Sha and colleagues from the Topological Media Lab for the collaborative and transmedia game experience with university and non-university participants;
  • culminating event for The Project on April 25, 2013; and
  • an international practicum on Play as Inquiry, Nov 1 - 3, 2013.