I just completed a new page at Red7.com that describes the major mixed-reality games I’ve run since 2004 — take a look.
Since I speculated (a few years ago) that we could create really great mixed-reality games (or learning experiences, for that matter) that would utilize all sorts of real-world media including SMS, video, telephones, FAX, email and web, I’ve been working to develop more of these games and get them played. I started by developing a scenario-operating-system that could run on a server, “listen” to incoming SMS and email messages, and react appropriately to move “players” through the game. This system is in place today, and listening for certain key words in incoming messages the set players off on a chase through the game of their choosing.
While experimenting with the scenario system, the team and I learned a lot. We learned that people have trouble with SMS messaging. We learned that email works (now that smartphones support email) better. We learned they’ll call a phone number, but they’ll hesitate because they don’t know for sure that the number is in-game. We learned that they like certainty more than experimentation. And we learned they ultimately will be creative if given the right opportunity.
Oh, and there’s a new game being planned right now.
 Mixed-reality means combining game play in such a way that it plays out in real life but uses digital media either in or to control parts of the game.
 SMS (also called TEXT or TXT in the US) messaging is the first method we used to get messages to and from the players. To avoid certain technical difficulties with SMS, including charges, we used email gateways, which are provided by mobile system operators. These did not work well because many people were unfamiliar with the ways they could send and receive email from their phones.
 We used call-in phone messages in almost all of the games. These are answer-only phone numbers where a simple message is played for each caller. Each message describes the next step in the game. I thought it would be fun to customize those messages for the players, but we haven’t gotten around to doing it… it’s a technology challenge that involves call-director, voice-response, XML-controlled systems.
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