This weekend was Indiecade weekend in Culver City, CA. In case you are relatively new to the independent games world (like myself), IndieCade is the International Festival of Independent Games. It is basically an entire weekend dedicated to showcasing independent producers and developers of interactive gaming. Unfortunately I was not able to spend much time at the festival as I found out about it late and already had a full weekend, but I fully intend to learn more about it for next year. I did get some super cool pictures and will post them on our tumblr site later on this evening.

Yes, you can see me taking the picture in the TV screen.

In the short amount of time that I was there, I did get the opportunity to meet Sara Thacher, the lead producer and manager of Nonchalance. I intend to have a longer discussion/interview with her in the future and will post that information here once I have it.

In the meantime, I want to introduce you to the basic mission of Nonchalance, which is “to provoke discovery through visceral experiences and pervasive play.” My mind immediately went to my experience from the Dexter ARG but this is actually a different ballgame altogether. Nonchalance is located solidly in San Francisco and their most well-known game (Games of Nonchalance) creates an alternate reality in the physical reality of the city of San Francisco.

That sounds weird, doesn’t it? Real Life Alternate Reality Game. However, that is pretty much they have created. I don’t want to say too much about the game because 1) I haven’t had the opportunity to go complete it yet since it is in SanFran and 2) I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun. Instead I will direct you to the trailer below and their website.

Games of Nonchalance from Nonchalance on Vimeo.

Why am I so excited by this new discover? Because I think ARGs and games like the one described above have the potential to be one of the next great forms of storytelling. We talk about interactive media and transmedia storytelling but the game that Nonchalance created engages participants in a manner that most video games cannot do (yet). As Sara stated, their focus is on creating a game that rewards on different levels of engagement. Similar to a video game but located in physically accessible space, these games are re-playable and can be stopped at any level without taking away the fun of what you have done already. You don’t have to finish the game, even though it sounds like it is pretty badass if you do. And if you do finish the game, you can come back and do it again and explore different elements than you did in the first go around. Again, I can’t say too much because I just got a brief overview of the game at IndieCade (where Games of Nonchalance won World and Story Award) but I have a fellow nerd friend that went and finished Day 1 (Michael Andersen from @argn) and he shared his flickr page. (He would have done more but his time in the city was short).

What are your thoughts on the future of games like this? Even if you haven’t played it, would you be interested in playing a real life ARG? One that has you walking around physical space, regardless of how familiar you think you already are with that area?