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A (not so secret) Conspiracy for Good

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

My tweet and Fbook post earlier this week about an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) based in London generated some interest, so here are more details.

Conspiracy For Good is an “entertainment pilot” set up by creator of “Heroes” Tim Kring in conjunction with Nokia. CFG is an ARG that combines mobile technology with immersive theatre events. Participants embark on mobile scavenger hunts in the urban landscape to unlock clues.

My interest was piqued because this is an example of using ARGs to mobilize people for social good, capturing what 2008 CFM lecturer Jane McGonigal calls “heartshare and mindshare.” The designers describe CFG as a “movement as well as an entertainment experience, encouraging participants across the world to get involved and do good.” Partner causes include We Give Books, Room To Read, and the UK-based Kids Company. We Give Books is an interesting nonprofit. An initiative of the the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation, it donates a book to children’s literacy programs for every book “donors” read online. For example, CFG participants engaging in WGB will generate books donated to a school in Zambia.

CFG is also an interesting example of a corporation (Nokia) using gaming to drive use of their products while promoting philanthropic causes.

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As with all ARGs, there is a convoluted back story driving the game. The main character, Nadirah, has made her way to London, with a legal document that proves the Zambian village where she teaches is the rightful owner of the land it sits on. Multinational corporation Blackwell Briggs intends to displace the village on August 7, to make way for a massive, industrial pipeline which would destroy Nadirah’s dream to build and stock a library for her schoolkids. The Conspiracy For Good must recruit around the world to succeed. You can catch up on the story in full here.

One of the game’s live events kicks off in London this Saturday at 12pm around Brick Lane, and involves participants teaming up and getting a Nokia X6 handset to try out, in order to pick up clues and pass the assigned mission – an urban scavenger hunt. If any of CFM’s UK readers decide to participate, sign up here, then write in and let us know how it went…

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