Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Springfield Museum's alternate reality game draws national attention

(From the City of Springfield)

Springfield Art Museum’s first-ever alternate reality game (ARG) has caught the attention of gamers nationwide.

Michael Andersen, editor of the Alternate Reality Gaming Network website, praised the Art Hunters game as “an ambitious reimagining of the museum experience.” The game challenges players to explore the city, collect clues and track down “escaped” art for a pair of fictional art recovery specialists. Blurring the line between fact and fiction, it tells a story that plays out both online and in the real world. So far, more than 125 players of all ages have joined the hunt.

Dakota Russell of Red40 Entertainment, the company that designed the game for the museum, said the response has been bigger than they ever expected.

“Nothing like this has ever been staged in this area before,” Russell said, “so we were shocked at the way it took off right from the start.”

Each week, players watch a video on the game’s website for the ongoing story and learn which piece of artwork has escaped. They then head to the Springfield Art Museum to examine the crime scene, following clues that lead to a second mystery location and eventually a code word to enter into the website. The correct code unlocks the second half of that week’s episode, where the Art Hunters follow up on players’ leads and successfully return the missing art.

“We wanted to create a new, more personal way for visitors to engage with the museum collection,” Museum Director Nick Nelson said. “We want them to have a relationship with these pieces, and that’s what we see happening.” The game continues through July 17. New players can join at any time at

The Springfield Art Museum is free of charge and is accessible to all visitors.

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