Patrick Jagoda


alternate reality game


Created and Directed with: N. Katherine Hayles and Patrick LeMieux
Full Contributor Credits:
Support: Greater Than Games Lab (Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University)

Speculation is an alternate reality game, a hypertext fiction, and a transmedia netprov that explores the relationship between digital media and finance capital through a playable network of distributed puzzles and science fiction scenarios. Unlike other digital games, alternate reality games are not bound by a single medium or hardware system but instead use the real world as their primary platform. Speculation begins with a video that led potential players to a game that includes cryptographic puzzles, computer simulations, live performances, and geocached dead drops. Speculation also incorporates a wide range of narrative media to imagine a dystopian future based on the culture of Wall Street investment banks. As an alternate reality, Speculation speaks to the historical, material, and experiential realities of the global economic collapse of 2008 and the Occupy movement that began in 2011.

Unlike some forms of electronic literature, which take a centralized form and are experienced by individual readers, Speculation unfolded across numerous contexts. It was shared with (even co-created by) a perpetually changing collective of players. Multiple versions of Speculation unfolded between 2012 and 2014. The first two instances of the project, released in 2012, were explored by a collective of online players and at numerous physical sites, including the University of Chicago, Duke University, Vassar College, and the University of Waterloo. The primary discussion forum for the game collects over 2,000 player posts. In 2013, the creators added an ASCII art piece that extended the narrative, “Player X: A ©oltan ©omic,” displayed at the “Chercher le texte” exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In 2014, we created a single-player version of the game, “Nexus X: An Alternate Archive,” which appeared as an online exclusive in the journal Critical Inquiry. Different parts of the game were covered in publications, including The University of Chicago Magazine.

The original rabbit hole video for Speculation.

An essay by the co-creators of the game about Speculation, published in Critical Inquiry.

talk about poetry, money, and the Speculation game by Stephanie Boluk (Pratt Institute).

A review of the first month of Speculation by Nicholas S. Anderson.