ARIS Games, which stands for Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling Engine, are location-based games and stories. It is an app that allows you to create games, tours, and interactive stories.
ARIS Games was created by Field Day Lab, based at the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research at the University of Wisconsin. Their approach centers on “the intersection of theories of interactive media and situated and sociocultural learning.” The ARIS app allows researchers and educators, even children, to create their own interactive media. This program is free to use, if not easy to navigate.
First, you need to register an account. Once you choose a user name and password, you are given the option of making a new game, editing an existing game, or importing an exiting file. I chose making a new game.
Now, without the manual, this website is really hard to maneuver. Fortunately, the manual provides step-by-step directions and video tutorials, which I used to get started.
Making a Tour:
I decided to create a tour of the American University campus. The first thing I did was create plaques for all the hot spots on my tour: CAS, SIS, and the Spiritual Center! A plaque is an object that provides your audience with information, either in the form of text or media.
Then I made sure the locations of those plaques were correct. The default will always be Wisconsin (where the program was created) so I had to manually move the markers on the map to the correct locations.
Next, I added media to my plaques by selecting the plaque and editing. I gathered some photos from the AU website, though I could have easily used my own photos or videos.
Once included media, I added triggers. This tells the app when to allow the viewer access to the plaques. I’ve set all my triggers to geographic location. When the viewer is in the radius of the pin, they will be able to access the information. I could have also used a QR code.
Lastly, I created a conversation, which provided an interactive way of communicating with the audience (see example below).
Exploring Nearby Games, Tours, and Quests
You can use the app to locate nearby games, tours, and quests. I will highlight two that were particularly interesting.
(Infra)Structural Ghosts – Demo Version
I’m not sure what is happening at Hurst Hall, but I’m a little scared to find out.
This quest is intended to promote recycling. It indicates where garbage has been found across campus and sort of guilts you in to doing something about it.
Overall, this is a really cool app. It provides a platform for scholars and educators to create a game or tour that allows the audience to interact with the space around them. By using the map on American University campus, I was able to consider my space through a multitude of different lenses: conservations, history, fiction, etc.
Here are some questions to think about:
How do you see an app like this contributing to your own research interests?
Based on this short overview, what are the benefits of using map-based interactive apps? What are the drawbacks?