The Source: A 5 Week Alternate Reality Game at Univ. of Chicago copy

A project that used gameplay and transmedia storytelling to rethink traditional learning and digital literacy.

The Source was a 5-week Alternate Reality Game hosted by Game Changer Chicago in summer 2013. The game was played by 140 high school students, and combined play in both online and offline spaces. The story, which followed a 17-year-old protagonist named Adia, was conveyed through transmedia means, including webisodes, tweets, Facebook posts, text messages, and voicemails. The narrative led players to a series of board games, cryptographic puzzles, scavenger hunts, and creative digital media tasks. The Source was played in teams of ten players that were overseen by undergraduate and graduate student mentors. The game explored issues such as sustainability, health policy, bullying, immigration, and homophobia while helping youth develop skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM).

2013-07-06 23:56:14

Prologue - The Discovery

Meet Adia, a 17-year-old girl who is solving a mystery left to her from her father. This video was posted several days before the high school youth arrived to play the game.

2013-07-08 00:19:34

Episode 1: Adia & Ros

Through this webisode, players meet Adia's best friend Ros, and discover more about the mysterious game created by Adia's long-lost father.

2013-07-09 00:06:03

Week 1 - The Source Begins

140 high school students arrive at The Source home base, located on The University of Chicago campus. They are assigned to teams to play the five-week game. The themes for Week 1 include Engineering, Urban Planning and Sustainability.

2013-07-09 09:11:40

Ice Breakers

Youth get to know their new team mates, and their new mentors, through outdoor "icebreaker" activities.

2013-07-09 13:16:03

Scavenger Hunt

The players explore The University of Chicago campus on a scavenger hunt to find clues left to Adia from her father. The players will use these clues in future activities and to help Adia piece together the complex backstory of her father.

2013-07-09 14:16:03

Board Game - Cross Roads

Played on the soon-to-be-famous map of "Hexacago," the main goal of this game is to use as few resources as possible to connect houses using roads and intersections.

2013-07-10 12:38:57

Players Visit MSI

Players explore exhibits on a scavenger hunt at the Museum of Science and Industry.

2013-07-10 19:56:17

Episode 2: Meet Micah

Players meet Adia's tech-savvy friend, Micah, who will prove to be a great help in solving puzzles of the computer and engineering variety.

2013-07-11 10:56:04

Board Game - Power Play

Played on the map of "Hexacago," Power Play is a board game about building power plants, powering the city, and minimizing pollution. The game culminates in a winner-take-all tournament, with the representatives from each team.

2013-07-11 11:06:55

Card Tower Engineering Challenge

Players compete to build the tallest and sturdiest card towers, in this engineering-focused challenge.

2013-07-12 11:12:52

EPISODE 3: The Subject

In this video, Adia finds another chest of clues. She also explains her troubled relationship with her brother, Ibe.

2013-07-15 02:53:42

Week 2 Begins

Week 2 of The Source focuses on Science, Reproductive Health and Community.

2013-07-15 09:33:27

EPISODE 4: Closer

Adia, Ros and Micah contemplate crowdsourcing the game. With the audience's help they can get through the puzzles and challenges much quicker than they ever could working in isolation.

2013-07-16 00:01:55

Monday Online Activity

Adia quizzes players on their knowledge of STI's.

2013-07-16 09:53:42

Board Game - Plagues, Trains and Automobiles

The premise: players are on a very long bus ride together, but people keep getting sick. Players must figure out the origin of the disease and how it spreads before the "disease bus" becomes the "dead bus".

2013-07-16 10:18:17

Outdoor Game - Fever Break

In this adrenaline-filled outdoor game, players shrink down to take part in the body’s auto­immune defense. Players work to stop the infectious agents spreading throughout the open wound by collecting as many flags as possible while simultaneously determining each Disease Vector’s weakness.

2013-07-17 09:10:06

Health Professional Presentations

Public health professionals from the community give interactive presentations to the players about their work.

2013-07-17 14:01:26

Role-Playing Game - Caduceus Quest

Youth must assemble a team of health­care professionals, then pitch solutions for Hexacago’s biggest health problems. This is a fantasy game with very real solutions.

2013-07-18 09:20:57

Episode 5: Makeup

In this contemplative video post, Adia shares her reflections on makeup.

2013-07-18 09:20:57

Card Game - Infection City

Players must wipe out the epidemic of super infectious STI's spreading across Chicago.

2013-07-19 12:29:31

Week 2 Digital Badge Workshops

Players visit Logan Media Center at UChicago to build their skills and earn digital badges in blogging, photography, social media, web design and podcasting. How else will they help Adia solve this vast mystery?

2013-07-19 17:36:34

Episode 6: The Center

Adia discovers her father's ideas for a very progressive community center. He's turning out to be very civic-minded.

2013-07-22 05:53:03

Week 3 Begins

Week 3 emphasizes Math, Cryptography and the Prevention of Youth Violence.

2013-07-22 05:53:03

Episode 7: Instruction Pt.1

Adia, Ros and Micah write instructions for PB&J sandwiches.

2013-07-23 02:55:25

Role Playing/Card Game - Secret Societies

Each player receives a mysterious card calling them to a meeting of their secret society. Players must find another member without letting on which group they're in.

2013-07-23 16:59:49

Role-Playing Game - Code Wars

Through coded communications, players must find out who in the room is on the same team, and how to secretly draw team members in from other rooms.

2013-07-24 04:56:18

Special Guest: Law Enforcement

Players learn about the short-term and long-term effects of youth violence, from a police officer.

2013-07-24 04:56:18

Episode 8: Instruction Pt.2

Adia, Micah and Ros try again to create some not-so-simple PB&J sandwiches.

2013-07-24 14:56:18

Evidence and Investigation

Players assemble clues to better understand a violent incident in Adia's father's past.

2013-07-25 09:10:25

Cryptography Scavenger Hunt

Players use clues from the morning board game to find mini safes that have been buried all over the UChicago campus. What could be inside?

2013-07-25 09:10:25

Encryption Game - Tales from De-Crypt

In Tales From De-Crypt, each player is a suspect wrongly accused of a violent crime. They must get into a vault located downtown on the map of Hexacago in order to clear their names. It's a race against time.

2013-07-26 12:11:00

Episode 9: Alliteration

Adia uses the information she has gathered to review her father's history and timeline.

2013-07-26 21:01:31

Week 3 Digital Badge Workshops

Players visit Logan Media Center at UChicago to build their skills and earn digital badges in blogging, photography, social media, web design, and podcasting.

2013-07-29 02:06:31

Episode 10: And then what happened?

Adia and Ros trade barbs in a game called "And then what happened?"

2013-07-29 07:13:35

Week 4 Begins

This week of The Source focuses on Technology and Immigration.

2013-07-29 23:12:37

Monday Online Activity

The ADIA Center website is hacked. Players must investigate the curious occurrences to learn where the glitchy disturbances are coming from. Find out more at

2013-07-30 08:55:26

"War of the Worlds" & "A.I."

Players watch film clips from "War of the Worlds" and "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence".

2013-07-30 08:55:26

Social Media - War of the Worlds

Players create a "War of the Worlds"-style phenomena using social media.

2013-07-30 14:13:05

Physical Game - Robot Party

Robot Party is a game about following the rules and fitting in. Each group in Robot Party has a different goal. The Robots want the humans out of their party, the humans want to party, and Alan Turing wants to find out all the humans.

2013-07-31 08:33:22

Episode 11: Privilege

Adia reflects on privilege.

2013-07-31 13:40:26

Electronics Workshops

Each group visits several different workshops led by experts in robotics, circuit building, 3D printing, and more.

2013-08-01 02:37:47

Computer Game - SAVE.exe

Players use their computers to stop rogue AIs as they try to disrupt the city of Hexacago.

2013-08-01 14:19:15

Storytelling Game - Techtopia

Players take turns telling a story about a world that is struggling with a major problem. Taking on the knowledge and skills of our most advanced technologists, the players' job is to build a brighter future for human­kind.

2013-08-02 13:00:14

Episode 12: Ready or Not

Adia and Micah talk about a coup in Haiti and how it might have affected her father.

2013-08-02 14:01:31

Week 4 Digital Badge Workshop

Players visit Logan Media Center at UChicago to build their skills and earn digital badges in blogging, photography, social media, web design, and podcasting.

2013-08-04 17:29:10

Week 5 Begins

Week 5 emphasizes Art and Storytelling.

2013-08-05 02:43:35

Episode 13: Bad Blood pt.1

After making up, Adia and Ros "trade places" and do their best impressions of one another throughout the episode.

2013-08-06 16:22:24

Storytelling Game - Meet the Middletons

In this game, players collaborate and re-order the sequence of existing film clips to tell a variety of stories.

2013-08-07 23:29:27

Field Trip - Art Institute

Players explore the Art Institute of Chicago to help Adia look for themes in the artwork.

2013-08-09 06:53:16

Final Activity

Players meet Adia. The mood turns bittersweet as they give her their best advice about her relationship with her distant father.

The Source: A 5 Week Alternate Reality Game at Univ. of Chicago copy

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