THATCamp Games Bootcamp

The room filled up fast for the Bootcamp--nine people had to stand or sit on the floor

Members of the AGOG team presented a Bootcamp workshop on “Narrative Puzzles” at last weekend’s THATCamp Games digital humanities and gaming unconference.

ARGs, RPGs, educational games, and many more types of narrative-rich games often rely on puzzle-based modules. This workshop moved introduced both transmedia/ARG and college-puzzle-challenge-style puzzles, then workshopped two puzzles based on the same mechanic–one more and one less narrative. Finally, we discussed questions such as:

  • How do create a puzzle that’s fun to solve even after you’ve figured out its trick?
  • How do you incorporate narrative flavor into puzzles meaningfully, and how do you incorporate puzzles into narratives meaningfully?
  • How do you incorporate learning (e.g. STEM, historical thinking, or information literacy)?
  • How do you test a puzzle–and why should you test puzzles before using them?
  • What is running a puzzle with players or student players actually like?
  • How do you create metapuzzles?

We shared some resources on ARGs and narrative-heavy puzzles here, and a helpful attendee took notes you can peruse here.

Playtime! Members of AGOG and attendee Emily Lewis check out a puzzle.

Half the attendees worked on a "college puzzle hunt"-style puzzle, while half worked on a puzzle based on the same mechanic, but with a thicker narrative.

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