The momME Game

momME is the world’s first alternate reality game (ARG) designed from the hearts and minds of tween-aged girls to commemorate Mother’s Day. The ARG was created by a team of designers (girls ages 10-13) at 101 Technology Fun, a makerspace that I developed with the How We Learn (HWL) research team at UBC.

momME is a social media game that weaves together a boldly adventurous plot, positive social energy, feminine power, and fun. The primary goal and focus of gameplay is to celebrate the special the relationship between mothers and daughters (and even grandmothers).

momME leverages the short form video as a storytelling device, the casual game as a motivational device, and the social network as a focus for interaction and learning. This live game event does not introduce or require new technology, rather it focuses on delivering a participatory narrative experience using the internet as the central binding game platform, along with some amalgamation services to coordinate the game updates and player-generated artifacts across multiple social platforms and networked publics (e.g., blogs, emails, Facebook, Flickr, hash tagging, Instagram, telephone calls, texts, Tumblr, Twitter, and video chat).

Teams of mothers and daughters must work together to save Mother’s Day from its ‘looming demise’ by undertaking collaborative game challenges. These game missions engage players in creating personalized media works of song, dance, photography, and story, and involve community-building experiences like organizing collective action and interviewing neighbors. momME missions include: 1) role-playing adventures (e.g., the mothers playing the daughters, and the daughters playing the mothers); 2) dancing to music from unique locations (e.g., a rooftop); 3) responding to quests such as, “find a way to use your talent and expertise to make a difference in someone’s life”; and 4) answering questions like, “if you had only one wish to change the world, what would it be?”

By making an open-ended and flexible alternate reality, players (and viewers) can engage with the game fiction in the same ways that they interact with media in actual reality. By using familiar social networking sites and the real world as a game platform, technology does not get in the way of play and the momME experience becomes accessible to as wide an audience as possible (e.g., not only skilled gamers or those with high bandwidth). momME’s collaboratively constructed framework ensures that its storylines, characters, actions, and goals are authentic and relevant for the physical and virtual realities of girls’ lives. Hence, game play in momME is a meaningful experience that females can identify with as uniquely their own. Whereas many traditional games are designed to help people escape from reality, momME is designed to make reality more engaging.

momME is not merely an innovative ARG designed by girls, for girls, but also an online community environment to give females nourishing storylines, identities, ideas, and experiences to construct themselves with and nurture real-life relationships. The ARG honours the creative energy that builds, bonds, and nurtures life. Fathers and sons can also play, without penalty.

Cover image: My charming three year old son and I.