ARG Team

The Research Team

Derek Hansen (shakmatt at gmail dot com) is an Assistant Professor in the iSchool at the University of Maryland as well as Director of CASCI (the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information), a multi-disciplinary research center focused on harnessing the power of novel social technologies to support the needs of real and virtual communities. He is also an active member of the Human Computer Interaction Lab. Hansen’s research focuses on the design and use of large-scale collaboration systems and social networks. He has published in places such as The Communications of the ACM, ACM-CHI Conference, Computer, Information Research, Journal of Medical Internet Research, and the Journal of the American Medical Association, and received funding from NSF, Microsoft Research, and several non-profits studying social media technologies. His book Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a Connected World is used widely in teaching network analysis and has received excellent reviews. Hansen first became interested in alternate reality games when studying one of the largest collaborative sense-making endeavors in history: fans of the TV show Lost who worked together in the millions to theorize about the complex storyline and bizarre happenings using forums, blogs, and the Lostpedia wiki in novel ways.

Kari Kraus (karimkraus at gmail dot com) is an Assistant Professor in the iSchool and the Department of English at the University of Maryland. Her research and teaching interests focus on new media and the digital humanities, textual scholarship and print culture, digital preservation, transmedia storytelling, and game studies. Kraus is a local Co-PI on an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant for preserving virtual worlds; the PI on an IMLS Digital Humanities Internship grant; and, with Derek Hansen (iSchool), the Co-Principal Investigator of the NSF grant underwriting the design of AGOG. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship; Digital Humanities Quarterly; Digital Media: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on History, Preservation, and Ontology; The Journal of Visual Culture; and Studies in Romanticism. She first became interested in ARGs when Marc Ruppel, a PhD student in the Department of English, introduced her to Cathy’s Book, billed as the first alternate reality game developed specifically for the publishing industry.  In 2008, in conjunction with the University of Maryland’s Mobility Initiative, she and her graduate students designed a mobile scavenger hunt that they playtested with a group of undergraduate students who had received free iPhones and iPod Touches as part of the Provost’s pilot project. Inspired by ARGs, the on-campus hunt made use of the technological affordances of the iPhone and iTouch – e.g., camera, phone, texting, and GPS functionality – to enhance interactivity and integrate the offline and online worlds in creative ways.  The narrative framework was designed to teach students about University of Maryland history, particularly the Great Fire of 1912.

Elizabeth (Beth) Bonsignore ( elizabeth.bonsignore at gmail dot com) is a Ph.D. student in the iSchool at the University of Maryland and a graduate research assistant on the ARG study team. Her research interests include the design and use of collaborative sense-making technologies that support lifelong literacy and learning, whether in formal education or informal contexts (museum, library, home). Specific work includes the empirical analysis of the use of mobile storytelling applications at home and in school (StoryKit), online communities for educators (Classroom2.0), social learning sites for children (National Park Services’ WebRangers), and the design of Alternate Reality Games as platforms for learning and collaborative-tool evaluation. As part of these efforts, she also works closely with Kidsteam, a participatory design research team at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab. Beth stumbled upon ARGs through her favorite type of leisure reading: children’s/young adult literature (and related fan-fiction). She started with transmedia works like the 39 Clues series and Skeleton Creek. ARG team member Kari Kraus introduced Beth to the Cathy’s Book series, the Amanda Project, and Personal Effects:Dark Art, and transmedia scholar/student Marc Ruppel shared MetaCortechs, an ARG based on the Matrix universe. She became interested in the educational potential for ARGs after helping Kari and other graduate students on a mini-re-creation of their UMD-history-based mobile scavenger hunt, and while investigating the 39 Clues with her two sons.

Amanda Visconti (amandavisconti at gmail dot com) is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at the University of Maryland and a graduate research assistant on the ARG study team. A digital humanist with a master’s degree in information studies and a web design background, Amanda’s work focuses on creating and theorizing digital texts as spaces for collaborative learning, playful intervention, and scholarly discovery for stylistically and culturally complex literature; she is interested in combining facets of online narrative ARGs with participatory literary interpretation, intervention, and discovery. She was introduced to ARGs in the fifth grade through a semester-long Oregon Trail simulation and reintroduced through Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother over ten years later. Amanda’s literary interests include Ulysses and other high and late modernist analog hypertext works, electronic literature, and Victorian sensation novels. She also works as Webmaster at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and as the Technology Chair for the University of Maryland Graduate English Organization.

Ann Fraistat (ann.fraistat at gmail dot com) is the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry’s creative writer; Ann created and deployed an intensive mythology and narrative for the ARG through a variety of media. She is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, where she majored in theatre and English. Currently, Ann is a director and playwright in the DC area. Her most recently performed plays, cowritten by her brother, Shawn, include Romeo & Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending and Pandora: A Tragicomic Greek Romp. Her literary interests include comedy, historical fiction, Victorian literature, and works that put the old and the new in conversation with each other. This project has been her first experience with ARGs, but it’s probably safe to say that she’s addicted now.

Margeaux Johnson is a Science & Technology Librarian and Instruction Coordinator for Science at the University of Florida Marston Science Library. Margeaux assisted with an early “mini-ARG” version of AGOG deployed at the LRS-V conference in Fall 2010 and has collaborated with the ARG team on various papers and presentations.

Georgina Goodlander is Interpretive Programs Manager at the Luce Foundation Center and Exhibition Coordinator for The Art of Video Games at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. She managed the development and implementation of the world’s first museum-based ARG, Ghosts of a Chance, in 2008, as well as the 2010-2011 museum-based ARG Pheon. Georgina assisted with an early “mini-ARG” version of AGOG deployed at the LRS-V conference in Fall 2010 and has collaborated with the ARG team on various papers and presentations.

Marc Ruppel (marc.ruppel at gmail dot com, www.marcruppel.net) is a PhD candidate in Textual and Digital Studies at the University of Maryland College Park. His dissertation, titled ‘Visualizing Transmedia Networks: Links, Paths, Peripheries’, explores the possibilities of network or graph-based analyses of transmedia practices,particularly the expansive and interconnected development of fictional narratives and universes. Marc has presented extensively on the subject of transmedia fiction, organizing the first panel on transmedia at the Modern Language Association’s annual conference, published pieces in journals such as Convergence and The Journal of Social Identities and also has a book chapter forthcoming on the integration of mobile technology in transmedia fiction. Marc’s first contact with transmedia fiction took place when he was just a child and realized that there was more fun to be had in reading the extended fictional biographies found on the back of the packaging for Star Wars figures then there was playing with the figures themselves. His first contact with ARGs proved to be formative experiences, having signed up for Day One access to both The Beast and Majestic in the Spring and Summer of 2001. Like many others here, Marc is interested in transmedia fictions and ARGs as expressive works as well as potentially paradigm-shifting models for education.

Michael Von Korff is the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry‘s Puzzle Advisor. He has been organizing puzzle games since 2004, when he co-founded the Harvard Puzzle Hunt. Michael is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Mathematics at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor; his research focuses on positive characteristic algebraic geometry and commutative algebra.

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