The Discussion of Companies Using Alternate Reality Games to Recruit College Students
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NOTE: Parts of this interview are missing as the audio is very poor in quality.
Interviewer: I’m here at the ARG Fest and with me today is a special guest. How about you introduce yourself?
Amith: Hi, my name is Amith [?]. I’m head of creation [?] based in Berlin. I was quite happy to be part of this year’s ARG Fest. I wasn’t thrilled with so much controversy and so much discussion about the future of ARGs and all the things to come about ARGs.
Interviewer: What ARGs did you guys present at the conference?
Amith: We were presenting like a kind of special case first because it was a German ARG, and second because it was an ARG not just for players. We were introducing a new tool for recruiting potentials for companies like Boston Consulting and in this case it was a company called Ruelan Berger [sp] which is the biggest consulting company in Europe.
Interviewer: So, basically, a consulting company made an ARG to recruit high quality candidates from college or something.
Amith: Exactly. The aim was to not just meet people in one certain event. For example, in Germany they do invite them for skiing in the mountains and something like that. As I told them in my speech, it was like companies like to meet new people and we told them, if you really want clever people, do something. In fact, doing an ARG was, in our opinion, the right idea to do for a new approach.
Interviewer: Was this ARG then geared toward recruiting technical graduates, or was it towards business graduates or what?
Amith: All kinds of graduates. The main thing for a company like that was having people who are really [?], who took the right decisions to be at the right university, but on the other side they need more like creative entrepreneurs. This is not the kind of people we normally acquire if you invite people, students, to experience skiing or something like that.
Interviewer: How was the ARG designed so that you could actually recruit and get very smart people? Is it a list of puzzles?
Amith: It’s not about puzzles. It’s about the basic idea. The basic idea is to work in both directions. Of course, this is a paid thing. In the first place, it has to do something with the company. If you are a consultant, you are not like in one space for a living. You spend two days at one company. You get back to your plane, and then you have three weeks in London. You have four weeks in Amsterdam and so on. This is not like being in a full employment position.
We presented them the idea of behaving like pirates, and this is something [?] If you are a student and a little bit younger, pirates are cool.
Interviewer: So, the pirate game. How was it exactly designed then? Basically, a player would become a pirate and then they have to travel around and find things or find treasure, or how does that work?
Amith: Of course, it’s like quest-based. What we did, we like invented two societies, two ancient societies, who would fight against each other since 150 years. The players decide on which side they really wanted to be on. As Steve Jobs would say, it was better to be a pirate than to [?] So, they should really think about it, if it’s proper for them to be pirates. Then, of course, the quest they have to solve. It’s really amazing, a lot of number crunching.[?]
Interviewer: Were the quests collaborative, or was it more of a single player experience?
Amith: No, we just separated them by university. So, if you were in a certain university unit, if you were like being part of one we called them free lance and the guys in Berlin were part of the free lance, so they weren’t competing against universities.
Interviewer: Did you guys then have leader boards or any of these online things for people to see how they were competing?
Amith: Well, there was like a hidden forum at the back door at the website of a washing company, a chemical cleaning company. So, you had to lock in and when you put in your numbers you entered the secret, and you were greeted by certain people like puppet masters, but we called them mitigators. So, they handed over the quests, and they handed over part of the information and part of the action that has to be done.
Interviewer: What were some of the surprises you encountered when you were designing the ARG, and what were some of the surprises you encountered as the ARG was playing?
Amith: Well, the biggest surprise was being called by a company like Ruelan Berger because consulting companies are control freaks. The whole thing about the job is about being in control, so they had to give away a lot of control. That was one thing.
The other thing is, of course, like any customers they were thinking that hypertentious students they won’t have time to play. Every living person spends like 40 percent of the day time [?]. This was kind of a professional distraction, and this was something very special. It’s not just a casual game. This is something like a test, like an assessment center test. They really get into it.
Interviewer: How long did the ARG last?
Amith: Three and a half weeks, as far as I remember. We allowed two weeks for probation. Also, for preparation to contact the right person.
Interviewer: And, if any of the listeners, can they play the ARG now or is it already over, or is there any archives or anything?
Amith: This initial phase is already over. We’re planning the next ARG which is more like a permanent ARG. There we’ll have several websites so that you can play it.
Interviewer: Will this be a recruitment ARG, or is this a totally different ARG?
Amith: No, this is just like a proper recruitment tool so people will know that this is another branch of Ruelan Berger?
Interviewer: In terms of other games you guys and your studio are going to work on, what are other games will there be?
Amith: I’m at the moment really thinking about what an ARG really is or what can be done on it in terms of developing architecture. So, at the moment I’m more or less looking at technology, new ideas and technology. On the other side, new technologies like new frequency ID, like augmented reality, how to bring it all together. We have decided it could just be some kind of [?], but I’m not really sure. It just depends on, of course, the target group of people you really want to get involved.
On the other side, it depends on who is [?]. As a company we’ll do that for them.
Interviewer: Where do you see ARGs going, and what do you think is going to have to change for it to become mainstream, or as big as online games or Flash games?
Amith: I’m not sure if there is a chance for the genre about to become mainstream. I think a part of it will become mainstream, and there always will be hard core gamers. I’m not sure if you can triple or ten fold the times of hard core gamers. The thing about ARGs is they just heavily depend on gamers. I think the number of totally [?] people will never outnumber [?] like a thousand people.
Interviewer: Well, do you think there can be casual ARGs, you know, just as there are now casual games that are opening it up to people who had never ever played a game before. But, it’s so casual that they’ll play stuff? Could there be a casual ARG?
Amith: I think there won’t be [?] any more [laughs].
Interviewer: Cool. Any suggestions then for other independent game developers who want to make their own ARG or want to get into ARGs?
Amith: Well, I think just take the chance to team up and meet up. Get into dialect and get in touch with the players, with the guys who already made it, who already played the right games and just go for it.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.