ARG Design and Play App Bibliography

We’d like to share with you the (necessarily incomplete) bibliography of tools for both ARG design and play we developed as part of our Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry ARG’s first season. The bibliography is tailored to educational ARGs with online and mobile components. Please feel free to suggest additional items in the comments!


Apple Web Apps
Android Market

Drupal modules of possible use for ARGs, including rabbit-hole sites and player communities. (Encourages players to visit site by awarding points for every time they log in. You can set log-in periods so that they only get one point for any log-ins on a given day, for example, encouraging players to log in once per day.) (Supports Easter egg inclusion for site visitors entering the Konami Code or a code of your choice. How awesome!)

3. CODES AND CIPHERS Jigsaw Creator
▪ Site offers a tool to create virtual jigsaw puzzles from an image you provide. These puzzles can be embedded in forums, blogs, and websites.

ColdFusion Embedding of Messages in Images
▪ Blog post on how to embed secret messages in an image using ColdFusion.

Simple Secret Message Embedding in Images
▪ Blog post about a simple way to embed “secret” messages in images by adding text to image files with code editors.

Collage: Embedding Codes in User-Generated Content
▪ Intended to help dissidents in China and North Korea communicate, this beta-version software hides messages inside of tweets, Flickr images, and other social networks.

▪ The Braille system was the first digital form of writing (Wikipedia).

Caesar Cipher
▪ “In cryptography, a Caesar cipher, also known as a Caesar’s cipher, the shift cipher, Caesar’s code or Caesar shift, is one of the simplest and most widely known encryption techniques. It is a type of substitution cipher in which each letter in the plaintext is replaced by a letter some fixed number of positions down the alphabet. For example, with a shift of 3, A would be replaced by D, B would become E, and so on” (Wikipedia).

Morse Code
▪ “Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment” (Wikipedia).

Signal Flags
▪ Signal flags are used to visually identify ships and send messages through the use of a published book of codes.

What does your phone number spell?
▪ Web page that shows possible phone-number-to-word conversions, and vice versa.

Semaphore Flag Signalling System
▪ The Semaphore flag signaling system is an alphabet signalling system based on the waving of a pair of hand-held flags in a particular pattern.

Unicode Consortium
▪ “Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems” (Wikipedia).

Pigpen Cipher
▪ “The pigpen cipher (sometimes referred to as the masonic cipher, Freemason’s cipher, or Rosicrucian cipher) is a geometric simple substitution cipher which exchanges letters for symbols which are fragments of a grid” (Wikipedia).

The resources in the following bibliographies that seemed most applicable to educational ARGs and AGOG were included in this bibliography as separate items.

Online Augmentation to “Emerging Participatory Culture Practices” by Christy Dena
▪ Christy Dena’s essay on ARG gameplay resources breaks ARGs into descriptive categories (source types, media types, resource types, fictional status) and charts how many popular ARGs fit into each category. For example, she cites specific ARG examples of the use of forums.
▪ May be helpful for the ARG designer considering what arenas to use for supporting gameplay.

Content Management and Delivery Tools for Indie ARG Producers
▪ List of content management and delivery tools for ARG designers with small/nonexistent budgets.

Cross-Media Management Technologies
▪ Christy Dena’s extensive resource page on cross-media management technologies: “I’m not talking about cross-media measurement, but about the tools you can use to deliver and manage your content across media platforms. I’ve selected a range of technologies used in alternate reality games, pervasive games, location-based games and interactive TV.”

UCSB English Dept. Digital Humanities Toy Chest
▪ An annotated wiki list of DH tools, many of which might be useful in creating an ARG player site or during ARG play.
▪ Includes a section on “Visualization, Graphing, and Pattern-Discovery Tools” including timelines.

Transmedia Storyteller
▪ “Transmedia Storyteller is an online service for interactive, social and pervasive cross-platform entertainment and marketing. It’s a subscription-based service that allows anyone from independent filmmakers to international advertising agencies to design, manage, deliver and measure engaging interactive, social entertainment that spans online, offline and mobile platforms.”

▪ Popular project management software for online collaboration. Includes a dashboard for projects, file management, messaging, and scheduling apps.

▪ Media-corporation-oriented platform for live blogging, weekly Q&As, and other reader/audience services.
▪ Not free.

Yammer : The Enterprise Social Network
▪ Private social networking tool. Create your own protected social community with blogging, direct messaging, groups, file-sharing, and more.

▪ Customizable online project management software; assists with collaboration, communication, file sharing, etc. Includes tools such as chart and workflow builders, to-do lists, and wikis.
▪ Not free.
▪ Online collaboration platform for managing tasks, projects and teams through an intuitive web interface. Though it must be installed on your own server–it isn’t web-based like Ning–this allows you to scale it to your community’s needs.
▪ Free.

▪ Popular platform for creating custom social networks.
▪ Not free, but provides themes as well as support for aspects like advertising.

Velour (Beta)
▪ A collaboration tool built specifically to support ARGs: forums, file-sharing, to-do lists.
▪ Currently in beta, the developers are open to suggestions for improvements.
▪ Sign-up required for use.

Open Atrium
▪ Drupal-based collaboration software. Includes blog, wiki, calendar, to-do list, shoutbox, and dashboard apps.
▪ Free.

▪ Popular app allowing users to “check in” to locations they visit.

▪ Open-source crowdsourcing tool: “the Ushahidi Platform allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Our goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.”

Where Do You Go
▪ “A Google Maps mashup that generates a heat map of your Foursquare check-ins, then lets you take a snapshot of a city and publish it.” (Lifehacker)

Interactive Map Tool
▪ According to the Interactive Map Tool site, “the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources developed a web-based multimedia authoring/mapping tool to support ‘digital field assignments’ in undergraduate courses. Digital field assignments are course activities in which students collect and analyze data from the field using digital technologies.”
The Interactive Map Tool allows the creation of interactive maps and hierarchical structures of pages embedded with information and media (images, video, audio with captions).

My Tracks
▪ Android location mapping app. Records your movement while you walk around, then lets you share your tracks with friends and upload a visualization to Google Maps.

GPS Status
▪ Android app: “Display your GPS and sensor data: Shows the position, number and signal strength of GPS satellites. Check your position, GPS accuracy, speed, acceleration and bearing. A magnetic compass is included.”

▪ Android GPS app: compass, sun position, maps, and you can allow your friends to follow you on Google Maps.

Wikitude Mobile Global Travel Guide
▪ Android augmented-reality app: “See the world through your phone’s camera view overlaid with Wikipedia content.”

Google My Maps Editor
▪ Android app: “Create, edit, share, and view personalized maps on your phone synchronized with the My Maps tab on Google Maps. We provide full editing functionality for markers, lines, and shapes, plus you can mark your location using GPS or attach a photo directly from your phone.”

▪ iPhone app: Helps group members coordinate locations.
▪ Includes chat feature.

▪ iPhone app: Notifies you if friends will soon be in a nearby location so you can meet up with them.

▪ Multi-platform mobile app: Like CrossPathz, notifies you if friends will soon be in a nearby location so you can meet up with them; plots nearby friends on map with chat bubbles superimposed over location.

▪ 3D storytelling web app.
▪ Augmented reality mode allows users with webcams to see themselves inside their story.

UCSB English Dept. DH Toy Box: Mapping Tools
▪ Annotated wiki list of mapping tools including “Google Lit Trips”, a site that uses Google Earth to map “trips” through various works of literature.

▪ Google Maps-based Augmented History App
▪ Overlays photos on existing maps.
▪ Available for both Android/iPhone.

Microsoft College Puzzle Challenge Resources
▪ The “Puzzle Tools and Resources” page from the Microsoft College Puzzle Challenge contains puzzle-solving resources such as anagram solvers, character encodings, and links to specific knowledge (e.g. hardware architecture, card game rules, and statistics).

Letter Frequencies
▪ “If you have got a message encrypted using the substitution cipher that you want to crack, you can use frequency analysis. In other words, if the sender has tried to disguise a letter by replacing with a different letter, you can still recognize the original letter because the frequency characteristics of the original letter will be passed on to the new letters.”

Andy’s Anagram Solver
▪ One of many anagram solvers on the web.

One Across
▪ Crossword puzzle answers, anagram finders, cryptogram help, and other word-puzzle resources.

World of CryptoPics
▪ CryptoPics (also known as Nonograms, Griddlers, CrossPix, Pic-A-Pix, etc.) are a type of logic puzzle from Japan. The idea is to use the number clues to reveal a hidden picture.

▪ Android language-translation and dictionary app.
▪ Includes voice translation and translation of text messages.

Phone Number Converter
▪ iPhone app: converts a given phone number into memorable words and phrases.

▪ A kind of two-dimensional code that carries meaningful information in the vertical direction as well as the horizontal; by carrying information in both directions, QR code can carry up to several hundred times the amount of data carried by an ordinary bar codes.

▪ Machine-readable symbols–a type of barcode resembling a crossword puzzle, which encodes Internet URLs. Semacodes are primarily aimed at being used with cellular phones which have built-in cameras, to quickly capture a Web site address for use in the phone’s web browser. (Wikipedia)

▪ Mobile tagging-based interactive marketing. Use of one code is free.
ShotCode is a circular barcode, using a dartboard-like circle, with a bullseye in the centre and datacircles surrounding it. The technology reads databits from these datacircles by measuring the angle and distance from the bullseye for each. (Wikipedia)

QR-Code Generator
▪ Generates a QR code from your URL, written text, phone number, or SMS.

▪ “The Tool For Notes”: a personal content assistant supporting visualization and sharing of notes.
▪ Includes a “timeline view” that might help creating interactive event models for ARGs.

▪ A story-development tool like a word processor with add-ons to help the writer track and organize plot, characters, etc.
▪ $59.

Five Sprockets
▪ Online screenwriting and media-production software and resources.
▪ Supports story development, pre- through post-production, and marketing.
▪ Free; currently in beta.

Scrivener 2.0
▪ A written-content generation tool that aids in drafting and structuring complex documents, notes, research, and drafts.
▪ Media files can be kept in the program alongside writing.
▪ Free trial, $45 to buy (Mac OSX only).

▪ A free media pre-production tool that helps with scriptwriting, storyboarding, tagging scheduling, and sharing information among team members.

List of General Writing Tools
▪ Annotated list of various storywriting software for both Mac OSX and Windows. These programs are aimed at helping writers organize and use their research while writing a story or script.

▪ iPhone app: Lets you write tweets and set when in the future they should be posted.
▪ Possible ARG application: Script an NPC’s tweets before the game to free yourself to act as puppetmaster during actual gameplay.

321: Social Audioblog
▪ iPhone app: Lets you create an audioblog “channel” where you and your friends can post audio messages using your phone or computer.
▪ Possible ARG application: Record short audioblogs from NPCs; easier than making a video, but encourages players to think of NPCs as “real” better than a blog or tweet.

Cliqcliq Points
▪ iPhone app: A social game with possible ARG applications: give or take away points or virtual money from your friends.
▪ Useful for keeping score on in-game creativity or success, or for group curation of efforts.

▪ “Create, share, and publish zooming/panning interactive timelines.”
▪ Currently in Flash, with jQuery plugin in development.
▪ Basic version is free.

Simile Timeline
▪ From the Simile Site:
▪ From the MITH-designed, Danny Kaye LoC project:
▪ Open-source, javascript+ajax libraries

jQTouch (jQuery plugin)

Creative Commons License
The ARG Design and Play App Bibliography by Amanda Visconti and the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry research team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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