Jeff Watson, “Transforming Community Through Pervasive Play”

thumbnailJeff Watson, University of Southern California, “Transforming Community Through Pervasive Play”

In this talk, Watson will present Reality Ends Here (2011), a
pervasive alternate reality game designed to effect
immediate change in the community of learners at the USC School of
Cinematic Arts (SCA). Over the course of the project’s 120 day run,
collectible cards, rumors, secret websites, and a mysterious black
flag drew more than 150 students into an intense underground social
game involving collaboration, strategy, and artistic experimentation.
By connecting students to one another in unpredictable and
serendipitous ways, and by providing a framework for meaningful play
and performance, the game transformed a collection of heavily siloed
academic divisions into a productively chaotic and interdisciplinary
community of practice. Drawing on the research and methodology
underlying the design, implementation, and assessment of Reality Ends
Here, Watson will argue for the transformative potential of pervasive
game interventions across a range of domains, from education and
public policy, to activism, innovation, and beyond.

Jeff Watson is a PhD candidate in Interdivisional Media Arts and
Practice (iMAP) at the University of Southern California’s School of
Cinematic Arts. His research and art practice focuses on investigating
how game mechanics, pervasive computing, and social media can enable
new forms of storytelling, participation, and civic engagement. He can
be found online at