Duke News has an excellent feature out on GreaterThanGames’ Speculation ARG, with great interview snippets from the game’s co-creators Kate Hayles and Patrick Lemieux. In particular, the article focused on the generative feedback loop between the design team and its players, including a group of Duke students who took a course expressly to outsmart the game:
The game’s creators used the fall semester to troubleshoot the game, improving it through feedback from students as well as by monitoring the game’s players to see how they react as they maneuver through the game’s many layers. Five independent study students at Duke were enlisted to look for holes to exploit.
“They were hacking it like crazy,” said Duke literature professor Katherine Hayles, one of the game’s creators. “As a result the game has been extensively redesigned.”
The game, then, is not just interactive when it’s being played. The creators are also committed to its malleability on the level of design and concept. They think this open-endedness is where its educational value lies:
In Speculat1on, lab faculty believe they have a product with staying power — an unusual quality for alternate reality games, which are generally played once through a collective effort by online players. The Duke lab has created a game with features that can be tweaked and updated so it can be played over and over; its creators say they’ve built a public textbook of sorts, a game other universities can use when teaching their own courses in game design.
Photo: Part of the Specula1ion collective: Students Stephanie Boluk, Luke Caldwell, Patrick LeMieux and Professor Katherine Hayles. Photo by Megan Morr/Duke University Photography