Patrick Jagoda

Play as Inquiry

alternate reality experience


Directed with: James Taylor
Created with: Game Changer Chicago Design Lab

Play as Inquiry was a one-time alternate reality game that took place on November 1, 2013. The game used transmedia design, social engagement, and improvisational play to enable players to think about theories of play in a hands-on fashion. The game explored a central method of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab: intergenerational play as a technique of game design and collaborative learning.

Participants arrived at the welcome party for the Play as Inquiry experimental practicum (hosted at The University of Chicago by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry). As they mingled with other attendees and casually perused a gallery exhibit of posters and toys in the Logan Center Performance Penthouse, the participants discovered that they were in the midst of an elaborate game. A group of silent ushers handed out mysterious color-coded cards that instructed players to engage in a series of activities that included games of competition, chance, roleplaying, and vertigo. These activities incorporated both live action and smart phone enabled tasks. After a period of free play, the cards directed players to take down the posters, arrange them in a specific pattern, and decode texts that were hidden in the back of the artworks. After solving the puzzles, the players discovered the story of a high-stakes bet — and found themselves at its center. This game served as the introduction to the practicum sessions that followed.