Patrick Jagoda

the parasite

alternate reality game


Concept by: Patrick Jagoda, Kristen Schilt, and Heidi Coleman
Directed by: Patrick Jagoda and Heidi Coleman
Game Designers: Mollie Braley, Roderick Luke Chan, Daniel Cohen, Christine Fleener, Arianna Gass, Hugh Graham, Julianne Grasso, Omie Hsu, Bill Hutchison, Daniel Lipson, Jesse Martinez, Peter McDonald, Ben Nicholson, Liam Philiben, Jordan Pruett, Sarah Saltiel, Ashlyn Sparrow, Zoe Smith, Ben Grobman, India Weston
Project Managers: Benjamin Nicholson, Rachael Koplin, and Laura Ashlock with Sarah Stark, Olivia Malone, Charlie Lovejoy, Katy Surhigh, Anna Aguiar, and Roderick Luke Chan
Installation Artists: Dave Carlson and Samantha Rausch
Set Designers: Ben Caracello, Jacob Mulcahy, Zach Perrault, Harrison Ornelas, Harrison Kanter
Puzzle Designers: Sandy Weisz, Christine Fleener, Xander Beberman
Support: Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and other sources
Extended credits

the parasite was an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) scaled for approximately 1,750 people during the University of Chicago orientation for first-year students in 2017. The specific goal of the parasite ARG was to encourage incoming students to develop capacities linked to collaboration, leadership, inclusivity, digital media, and twenty-first century literacies. This ARG was a collaboration among a transdisciplinary team of contributors, including three faculty members; PhD, MFA, and undergraduate students; staff and administrators at the University of Chicago; and professional artists. Learning outcomes from this experience included time management, physical and mental health, asking for help, identifying resources, and conflict resolution. This transmedia experience unfolded across multiple online platforms from May to September 2017, and across nine site-specific participatory challenges in September 2017. Students discovered a secret society and located 121 unique objects, hidden around Chicago, which were necessary to unlock a singular room and uncover an entity known only as "the parasite."

The game was covered in several publications, including WiredThe Chronicle of Higher Education, HowlRound, and UChicago News.

A video overview of the parasite.

An archive of online game assets.