What was The Source?
The Source was an alternate reality game created by Ci3’s Game Changer Chicago Design Lab at the University of Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago summer of Learning. The game utilized social media, text messages, voice mails and a number of other transmedia techniques in order to teach STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) topics. The game, which featured teams assigned with Youth Mentors, also engaged with youth in topics surrounding civic engagement and social justice as the high-school-aged players explored the University of Chicago campus and other Chicago sites of interest.
Read more about The Source in Pacific Standard.
A timeline of the events of The source.
I was involved in the initial game pitch and design sessions, working with a team of game designers. Our goals in these initial sessions surrounded teaching STEAM topics, especially with local-geography-based analogue games.
The Source follows Adia, a 17-year-old African American girl living in Chicago's Southside. Nadia, a straight-A student, is being stretched thin by her mother's scheduling of extracurricular activities. After finding a letter left by her father, Adia uses social media and vlogs to connect with the players. She crowd sources them to help her solve the mystery her father, who left home twelve years ago.
The program, which ran for five weeks, devoted one week to a STEAM or civic engagement topic (such as bullying, homophobia, or health disparities). Players completed digital challenges, met with their teams and cooperated to solve puzzles, and attended digital literacy workshops. Teens were guided through the creation of their own Hexacago games (board games using a hexagonally-divided map of Chicago). Puzzles (which included code-breaking challenges, Hexacago board games, uncovering hidden evidence boxes, and other STEAM-based puzzles) were ranked online, and teams earned badges as they became literate in a number of STEAM skills. Additionally, players were matched with professionals in the sciences (physicians, robotocists, museum archivists, etc).
The Source Game Design Team
GCC Co-founder: Patrick Jagoda & Melissa Gilliam
Project Manager & Game Designer: Ashlyn Sparrow
Platform Manager: Amanda Dittami
Writer: Seed Lynn
Game Designers: James Taylor, Phil Ehrenberg, Peter McDonald, Leslie Gailloud, Megan Macklin, Keith S. Wilson and Chris Russell
Research Manager: Karriem Watson
Logistics: Angela Heimberger