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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Andrew Ronald at 10:32AM
Ulises Mejias discusses ARGs, or Augmented Reality Games, in Park 220 during FLEFF Lab Friday. Photo by Shawn Steiner

Blog posting written by Andrew Ronald '15 & Shawn Steiner '13, Film, Photography & Visual Arts, FLEFF Interns

What's the best part about Friday during FLEFF week? FLEFF Lab Friday of course! Shawn and Andrew are here live blogging the event for everyone who couldn't make it to Park 220 today in person.

We are starting with Ulises Mejias, author of Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital, discussing Augmented Reality Games.

10:13 AM - "Every crisis is an opportunity, but sometimes you don't get enough crises."

10:15 AM - "Play it before you live it [by] constructing scenarios about things that could happen in your community, and then using this platform to create dialogue." This year in particular, Mejias is discussing the all-too accessible issue of fracking.

10:20 AM - Mejias discusses how he gets his students on campus to participate in these games through an interactive, virtual experience. The goals range from the conceptual ability to create dialogue by writing comments and sending invitations, more participatory actions like attending events and educating others, and perhaps the ultimate form of involvement: the ability to act.

10:33 AM - To what extent can these games go in terms of the topics being covered? As far as Mejias is concerned, the administrators have not censored him, yet. But he reflects upon the games where the point is to "...choose topics that, by their nature, create discomfort." And for example, "...people are not that willing to talk about racism."

10:36 AM - What otherwise might be looked at as nothing more than schoolwork, Mejias stresses what makes these games more playful than academic? Simple elements, like the element of competition, generating participation on the website, and centralizing the mere essence of game theory separates the boundaries.

10:40 AM - Although he started doing this with one class, participation has steadily increased to about 150 students. Colleagues have begun to offer this as both credit and extra credit, and the number of stars won on this game are even associated with a grade for Mejias' students. 3 stars earn a C, while 5 stars earn a very worthy A.

10:50 AM - The idea of intensification is quite paradoxical where, while participating in various activities, you happen to leave room to generate more inequality. Although these games are a great simulation, it has its limits: there is no active energy associated with a virtual experience. So the obvious follow-up to the question is, of course, how to get students to physically create change.

10:53 AM - Augmented realities aren't about aliens invading. ARG's are a way of marketing products, video games, movies, etc.

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