Designing Magnets: Connecting with Audiences in the Wired Age

Location: Marina Ballroom E Level: Novice

In the last few years, the entertainment industry has seen the birth of a new genre. An Alternate Reality Game is an interactive story that players explore with the tools of their lives. Narrative is delivered through real web sites (as seen in World Without Oil) instead of cinematics, players interact using their cell phones (as seen in I Love Bees) instead of joysticks, and rewards take the form of live events (as seen in Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero) instead of animated gold coins. This isn’t about watching heroes on TV, this is about being one.

One of the key success factors to this new form of entertainment is its ability to connect with an audience. This connection is so strong that audiences have braved hurricanes to answer randomly ringing payphones, tattooed game logos on their bodies, and sent wedding invitations to game designers.

This talk will look at Elan Lee’s experience in creating Alternate Reality Games, breaking them down into their component pieces, and exploring the vital audience connections formed in each project.

Photo of Elan Lee

Elan Lee

Fourth Wall Studios

Elan Lee believes that if you’re bored, you’re doing something wrong. A self-identified entertainment-addict, Elan has spent his career finding and sharing ways to extract adventure from the world around us.

From surfing down the flooded streets of LA to broadcasting a radio drama over thousands of ringing payphones, Elan has pioneered breakthroughs in the area of entertainment and immersive gaming through his role as creative director for award winning projects such as I Love Bees, NIN: Year Zero, and The Vanishing Point.

Elan was Lead Game Designer for the XBOX, has spoken all over the world on the future of gaming, and is considered among the foremost Alternate Reality Game Creators in the world. He has been featured in WIRED magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and the Wall Street Journal. He has won awards for best web game of the year, best advertising campaign of the year, and best idea of the year. He can also juggle.


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