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Katie Kelp-Stebbins

Graduate student, Comparative Literature, UC Santa Barbara


World Without Oil (ARG)

Research Report by Lindsay Brandon Hunter
(created 9/11/08; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Alternative Interfaces | Collective Reading

Original Object for Study description

Summary: World Without Oil was an alternate reality game developed by Ken Eklund and Jane McGonigal, ITVS (Independent Television Service) Interactive and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Originally played between April 30 and June 1, 2007, World Without Oil was conceived as both an ARG and a “serious game,” in the sense of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 2002 Serious Games Initiative. The game’s tag line–”Play it before you live it”–emphasized the what-if nature of the game: players were encouraged to explore what would change in their own realities in the event of a massive oil shortage. Game makers provided rough parameters for the in-game reality (the price of oil, fuel availability) as well as character content (blogs, videos), but the game was aggressively user-driven. The gamers’ task was to imagine the consequences of a massive oil crisis, communicate about their experience and explore creative strategies for dealing with the attendant difficulties.