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Chapter 1. Unreality: A Brief History of... > ARG Ancestors: An Extended History

ARG Ancestors: An Extended History

In addition to my work with technology, I teach literature at the college level. Of particular interest to me is twentieth century American and European literature. And of even more specific interest are the writings of a group of American writers from the 1950s, who are known collectively as “the Beats.” Including such notable authors as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs, these individuals attempted to express in their writing the anxiety and desperate search for individualism that resulted in the years following the end of World War II and the onset of the Cold War. Much of their writing almost takes on a stream-of-consciousness style, as ideas and concepts flow from one sentence to the next (or simply flow in one long sentence that can take up nearly an entire page of text).

What do the Beats have to do with alternate reality gaming? In fact, they have quite a bit in common. Well, they have a lot in common if you are willing to look for the connections, but since I’m interested in both the Beats and ARGing, I’ve had no problem making that connection, and I’d like to use it to illustrate the provocative implications of how ARGs can be used as powerful educational components that allow students to learn and have a great time while they learn.


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