15 Fragen an Sean Stewart

Sean Stewart im InterviewEiner der kreativen Köpfe von 42 Entertainment ist Sean Stewart.

Er hat sich bereits als Autor von Science Fiction und Fantasy Büchern einen Namen gemacht und vor kurzem in Zusammenarbeit mit Jordan Weisman Cathy’s Book (E) veröffentlicht, das nicht nur für unsere weiblichen Leser interessant sein dürfte. Genauso ist zum Beispiel auch der schwarze Dolch seiner Feder entsprungen.

Er wurde 1965 in Texas geboren und ist von dort aus mit einigen Zwischenstationen an anderen schönen Orten mit seiner Familie ins sonnige Californien umgezogen. Dort stand er uns nun für unsere 15 Fragen zur Verfügung.

1) About when and how did you get in touch with ARGs?

I was lucky enough to be involved with the The Beast, the experience that sort of invented the genre. Jordan Weisman had an idea for building out the world behind AI. Dreamworks studio originally asked Neal Stephenson if he would like to be involved, but Neal was busy and recommended they talk to me instead, for which I am eternally grateful.

2) Did you take part in some ARGs as a player, too? Which?

Never played an ARG per se, though back in the mid-80s I both played and ran Live Action RPGs, an experience that turned out to be very useful for running an ARG.

3) In which ARGs have you been Puppetmaster/BHTS and what was your job in those?

I have been a PM, and lead writer, on three major ARGs: The Beast, ilovebees, and Last Call Poker .

4) Which ARG do you like best and why?

I suspect I will always have the strongest memories about The Beast, for the same reason people remember their first kiss. It was completely unknown territory and we were making up the rules on the fly every day.

5) Which was the funniest/nicest happening while doing/playing an ARG?

Many too many things to list. Playing Mike Royal on the Beast, listening to the shock in people’s voices when they realized they were talking to *a real human being* was certainly a high point. Simply beholding the awesome power of the hive mind was nearly as exhilarating as realizing we were going to have to be accountable to that beast was frightening. <smile> Laia’s first meditation in The Beast, the Clockwork Rat story in ilovebees (and the real-time quest to save the Sleeping Princess); reading the stories players wrote about doing the Small Favors in Last Call Poker, visiting grave sites all over the world and grappling with mortality in the context of an online game… The player *sprinting* to his car to get a guitar and returning to perform a beautiful Pink Floyd cover on ilovebees is another.

And the ultimate reward: getting wedding invitations after each game.

6) Are there any memories to happenings that you wanted to forget about?

There were things that were *hard*, mistakes we made: having worked on three of the biggest ARGs ever, I have almost certainly made MORE mistakes than anyone else in the field. <wry> But I don’t think there is anything I would want to forget. Even the dumb things—like the programmers switching a Shakespeare quote around to read “if music be the love of food, play on!” –are mostly funy now.

7) How do you explain ARGs to your family / friends / relatives and how do they react?

“Movies! Science! Opera! Role-playing! Blah! Blah! Blah!”

“That’s nice, dear. But what do you actually *do*?”

8) Which 3 things does an ARG really need to have, to be a good ARG in your opinion?

1) Players that care

2) PMs that respect them

I’m not sure there is a third thing. I think it is way too early to be trying to make up “rules.” Puzzles/no puzzles. Story/no story. Game/not a game. One website/many websites. We have radically broken our own “rules” every time out. This is an artform in the exploration stage: we do ourselves no favors trying to say what *content* “must” be involved. But no matter how you do it, there is one underlying fact, which is that the audience for an ARG works harder and is more involved than the audience for, say, a TV show. Respect that work. Treat them as collaborators. Make it difficult, if you like, but never be cynical.

9) Do you have a favourite character from an ARG?

Laia from the Beast, I think. The most complete and complex one I have written.

10) What are you currently working on? (if you may tell us/are allowed to tell us 😉 )

Can’t tell you. Sorry.

11) Which puzzle from past ARGs do you like best/was real fun? Can you tell us why?

Coming from the psychological side of the street, I liked the Mike Royal interaction from the Beast, simply because players were confronted with a real human being and had to find out about his past, discover his emotional levers, and convince him to do something he really didn’t want to do, all in real time, with the life of one of their favorite characters on the line.

In a pure puzzle way, of course, it’s hard to beat dripping tap enigma. In ilovebees, the last crewmember task, which involved people answering a phone on one side of the country, passing information on to an online community, and shooting that back down to another group of players on the other side of the country *within 60 seconds* — that was fairly astounding. And the opening of ilovebees, The Widow’s Tale, which required realizing that fragments of computer code were actually telling a fairy tale which was in turn the story of how the whole game had come to be, was as elegant, and in a way, profound puzzle as we have ever managed to create.

12) Do you have something like a „phrase“/“objective“ which you follow while organizing and running an ARG?

Let’s make it cool. The players are working incredibly hard. Let’s not let them down.

13) Do you remember a situation, in which you wanted to give up anything? What happened?

See above. When your audience is as passionate and as committed as ours have been, you can’t honorably allow yourself to give up.

14) Was there something like a favourite item from an ARG that you didn’t want to give away, but you had to, because the IG-Character had to?

Not sure I quite understand this question. We are always trying to find MORE stuff to give away.

15) How do you see the future of ARGs?

Hopefully, up close. J

Vielen Dank, Sean, daß du dir die Zeit für unser Interview genommen hast und damit unseren Lesern einen kleinen Einblick in deine Realität gewährst. (PM)