Vanished Recap featured in ARGNet and Wired Online

Alex Calhoun of ARGNet, who provided a sneak preview of Vanished before its spring 2011 run has now written up a post-mortem/recap of our completed curated game.  For those of you who didn’t get a chance to follow along as our players saved a future Earth from certain destruction with science, we recommend you check out Mr. Calhoun’s article, which was also linked from Wired Magazine’s Decode blog.


I'm pleased to announce source-vanished and vanished-games our new outlets for making source code, publications, and assets from Vanished available to the world.
We've only just started filling these sites with content, but you'll already find source code for our Flex-based games,  links to our publications, and some how-to's on advanced software development concepts we used. In the months to come, we'll be adding more publications, source code for the Drupal website modifications, and The Curated Game Handbook--our thoughts on the design and implementation of Vanished.
To all those who will be attending Adobe MAX and GDC Online in the next two weeks, we look forward to seeing you there.

Vanished: Learning Science Through ARG Gameplay

I have the excellent priviledge to speak at Adobe MAX 2011 next month and have been recently finishing preparation of my presentation. It's going to be an ambitious talk aimed at a wide audience with hopefully something for everyone. That said, I want to take a moment to give a little bit of a preview here since I know MAX attendees will be researching the talks they want to attend and I think I sound a little flat and academic in the video I made to advertise the talk.
This last spring, I was part of the team that ran Vanished, a nationwide science mystery for middle school kids. Vanished is in some ways (and not others) an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) -- a game that takes place with components both online and in the real world. Most ARG's have been made for advertising purposes, but recently ARGs have been appearing that have different agendas (such as being educational).

A Few Words from our Camp Counselors

Vanished was a great experience, but it was also a lot of work. Key to getting everything done and running the game smoothly were MIT students who made content and acted as mentors and "camp counselors" for the kids playing the game. Two of our camp counselors wanted to write about their experiences in running Vanished and I'm posting them here.

Vanished at Games+Learning+Society; Pyramid Squashing

A couple weeks ago, Caitlin and I gave our first talk about the experience we had with Vanished at Games+Learning+Society. While we had previously talked about Vanished at Sandbox Summit, this was the first talk since Vanished concluded. At Sandbox Summit we had not yet had the opportunity to see the entire saga play out.
Our talk was cut short due to time restrictions (and my own tendency to be verbose), but I’d like to share the slide deck here. Over the next few weeks I’ll provide a recap what was said during the talk and cover some of the material that we didn’t have time to get around to live.

Vanished Concludes

Vanished, our science mystery Curated Game, concluded on May 22. Over the seven weeks of game play, more than six thousand middle school students across the country worked together online to solve a large and complex mystery. They played games online, collected data in their communities, visited Smithsonian-affiliate museums, videoconferenced with scientists, and engaged in intelligent collaboration and debate online to bring the pieces of the puzzle together.
On behalf of the Vanished team, thank you to everyone involved for making this such a success.
Over the summer, we're going to be documenting the making of Vanished and posting some of the highlights here. Topics will range from game design and pedagogy to some of the technical details of making the Flash games. Our hope is that Vanished will not be the only game of this type and that others will be inspired to build upon this work and create similar educational experiences for kids.

Our First Curated Game!

 Today's USA Today features an article about our forthcoming Curated Game, Vanished.  We've been working on this concept for years, so it's exciting that the time to play is at hand.  Please get all the middle schoolers in your life to sign up!  It's going to be a fun, educational time.  The gameplay itself is shrouded in mystery, but we're just witholding information for fun purposes!