Peer Puppeteers: Alternate Reality Gaming in Primary School Settings


Whilst there has been considerable research into the potential uses of digital games in the classroom, there has been less investigation into the educational value of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs). Unlike console or computer games, in ARGs the game-world is constructed through a combination of on- and off-screen media, and is created and shaped through dynamic dialogue between the designers and players. To create and play an ARG, children are not required to develop programming skills or negotiate gaming software. Instead the players and designers of ARGs create the game elements through the creative and inventive use of ubiquitous communication technologies and artifacts. In this paper I will be reporting on a crosscurricular multi-media literacy project undertaken in a large South London Primary School over two years, which represents one element of my ongoing research into the potential of Alternate Reality Gaming in Primary Education. In this, the children collaborated with the teacher to design and play an ARG with and for their peers. This research demonstrates that ARGs represent an innovative means for children to explore and develop their understanding and experiences of learning and literacy practices across media. In this project, the students made good use of their existing knowledge of games and the affordances of various media and narrative conventions. Through the active production of ARGs, they explored the relationships between these forms, in new ways.