In Alternativa 13, we are already in 2013 (a year ahead of the actual date) and the policy based on austerity and budget cuts (that has in the Spanish government one of its most advanced advocates) has gravely affected access to health for many citizens.
The players of Alternativa 13 take the role of journalists who report on this situation from their local perspectives and investigate their local institutions, their data and policies, while taking action for real change (learning about and supporting local resistance initiatives).
The game combines a mission-based structure (as in role playing games) with a story, where players must uncover a hidden plot through the investigation and collection of distributed story elements, navigating different online services and social networks in a play of narrative archaeology.
Alternativa 13 is an initiative of Anesvad, a Spanish NGO whose mission is to promote and protect the Right to Health. The design has been collaborative, in that most of the NGO staff have participated in proposing ideas for the news stories, the missions, and the game design in general. I worked within the organization for one year, promoting team work and helping to create a network of collaborators including different Spanish universities, media, journalists, etc. It is a low budget production based on the technical knowledge of Anesvad’s staff, with the designer’s help. The game is an experiment on how a NGO can promote a deeper, 360º kind of communication and awareness with their own means, establishing a longer, more meaningful relationship with participants.
During the game, players wrote hundreds of articles and other content for the game's fictional newspaper. Some of them where eerily close to what today- when we are in real 2013- we can see in the everyday News.
The game was played mostly in the game's portal at www.alternativa13.com (the fictional newspaper, the meeting point for players or 'agents', with a backend that only players could see, featuring their role, level, points, available missions, internal social network, etc.) but some of its contents and events took place in other sites and services such as:
- Pinterest, a tool we used to expand the game's interface and show the game's clues or to gather some of the players inputs, such as their undercover pictures, secret recipies, etc.
- Facebook, the place inhabited by the fictional characters of the game, where you could follow what was happening to them in real time. Some residues of this presence remain, but they are no longer maintained.
- Twitter, the main communication media of one of the leading characters and the game's noticeboard
- Youtube. Since 'Alternativa 13' was a fictional newspaper, it had it's own news video channel too: 'Alternativa 13 noticias'
- Some fictional characters had their own blog, too: Diary of a virtual student, or Damián Reinosa's blog, full of puzzles to solve collaborativelly
- Alternativa 13 teleprinter: a weekly mailing list updating the game's status and best players.
Video teaser (1' 52''):