ARIS Design Challenge – Greenland is Melting

Screenshot from the article. Looks like ARIS, no?

Today, the NYT has a web article about a scientific mission to Greenland. This is very fancy web design, something only the most headlined of articles receives. About halfway through reading it, I thought, “What if this was an ARIS game?”

Many of the visual techniques and visual sources are a good match to what ARIS can do (overhead satellite maps, on-site videos and images) and the techniques try to pull the audience into the story by giving them some feeling of control (zooming the satellite shot into the basecamp as the viewer scrolls the page). The bulk of the article itself puts you inside the trials and tribulations faced by the team trying to conduct research in such a far-off, extreme place—again a good match to the strengths of ARIS and a bit different approach than communicating the underlying scientific ideas or the consequences of ice melt on this scale. There was even a portion of the article where the image of the ice from the top looked just about exactly the way it would if you had done it in ARIS, faded and transparent blue circles around points of interest.

So how about it? Would anyone take me up soon the challenge of producing a version of this story in the medium of ARIS?

I think such an undertaking, and other similar translation style activities, could teach the author a few things about how storytelling in this medium might work and how it can be similar to and different from the fancy web format. I also wonder:

  • Is vicarious travel, tapping points on a map as opposed to more typical AR game design, worth undertaking? Is it compelling? Can it improve over handing someone Google maps as a set of points of interest and bring someone into the story?
  • What are the possible effects of placing someone in the story as opposed to telling them about someone else’s?
  • What choices do we make about what to tell and what to show? What do we hope someone gets out of being in the audience?
  • If a few people do this, how different are the results? To what extent do either the software or our perceptions of it determine how we try to tell stories with it?
  • What other game or game-like formats would be a good or different match for this task? e.g. how does ARIS compare to RPG Maker as a possible vehicle?

I’d be happy to hear from you if you try this design challenge or if this idea brings up any other questions.

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