Dateline Nov. 23, 2002: Changes Afoot at Collective Detective

March 16th, 2010

It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. This week, Collective Detective added MMORPG campaigns to their growing repertoire of cases. Less than three months old, started with a handful of cases covering Alternate Reality Gaming (Immersive Campaigning in their vocabulary) and treasure hunting. Along came Push, Nevada, which swelled the ranks of players to over 1,000. With Push in an untimely grave and no clear successor, Collective Detective took an unprecedented move and has begun to promote cases for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) with one case already open for the beta test of The Sims Online and plans for Star Wars Galaxies not far behind.

MMORPG games have a number of similarities to traditional ARG projects, so I cornered a few people at to find out what they thought about the new case. Frankenpaula, a beta tester for the Sims Online and one of the most prominent players in the Search4e, was quite excited about the new case. For her, it is all about the community. She felt she has found a great group of people to interact with online and is happy to be able to expand that interaction into other games.

I caught up with Josh Babetski, founder of Collective Detective and we chatted about the direction he’s taking CD.ORG.

WB The sims online case was a surprise for me, was that part of your original plan or a recent development?
taxicafe Well, there were always plans to sub-divide the cases into categories, when CD was being designed though what they were was still an unknown. It’s foolish to try and predict where the genre will take itself or to try and shoehorn it, but things like MMORPGS and the like were in the back of our head.WB MMORPGs are a vastly larger market. Both FP and Cort are really looking forward to how cd can enhance the community aspects of playing those games. Do you see other benefits CD offers to that player base?
taxicafe Mostly that you can log onto CD from work, you can’t log into Sims, EQ, etc. :-)
But there’s already a long tradition of community outside of these fictional worlds. They have guilds, clans, groups, drinking buddies, what have you. We enjoy what we call Immersive because it puts the world of the story into our world, this is just a slight change of actually diving INTO theirs.

WB What other genres do you see as a good fit for CD?
taxicafe I think time will dictate that. This genre’s a pup. I think a year from now we’ll perceive it in a whole new way that we do now. Just like it’s evolved dramatically in the Year from the Beast. So you have to blend pro-active growth but don’t fight the tide.
WB You already have a strong group of treasure hunters. I see RPG and other games that are going online fitting in as well.
taxicafe Like if there’s ever a point of enough people interested in a Case for Xbox/PS2 online gaming, we’d set one up.

taxicafe Not only that, but beefing up more social resources are important as well.
WB What do you mean by social resources?
taxicafe Inter-CD tournaments, things like that. Not to mention the development of the detective section so you can find CD members in your area. I think the first step will be getting the Detective resources finished so you can find all the detectives in say the Tampa area.
WB Sort of like sanctioned events?
taxicafe More informal, but if there was a demand for a Halo club or something, we might have a competition. As for real-world we definitely will organize a Collective Detective Cookout or something at some point.

WB It seems though that you’ve expanded past the genre. ARG or immersive campaigning (call it what you will) is really only one part of CD.
taxicafe That’s only if you have a tunnel vision of what the genre is or should be. Time Hunt is a fundamanetally different campaign than Push. Push was really not the same kind of campaign as the Beast.
WB so you see the genre as something that encompasses treasure hunting, MMORPG, and whatever Push was?
taxicafe I see the genre as a collective experience, wherever that may take the participants. I know you guys are hung up on this “ARG” term and that there’s anothter camp the has a mantra of “it is NOT a game,” but it boils down like this: Immersive is an umbrella for a very weird mix and match underneath. If I’m part of a murder mystery train troupe and we have part of our story on a web site. If I’m part of the Sims world, but introduce events and stories from real life.
Defining a genre by whether or not the Beast did it (phone, fax, email, websites) limits your ability to grow it. Besides its the community that really matters. The success of the genre hinges on the fact that people interact and collaborate and hang out in some capacity long after one story ends. “Join for the case, stay for the community” I think Headmocker said it.
WB That’s a pretty good motto there.
taxicafe (credit where due.)

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