I am a homeless man.

After reading Reality is Broken I began formulating a game called HoboKin, an ARG based on the experience of homelessness and poverty. So far I have designed 9 Achievements and about 35 quests, all designed to raise awareness of homeless and to create empathy with the impoverished. I believe the game has even more potential than that however.

What I do not know how to do is to create a website whereby people could communicate, post links to essays, pictures and videos, register completed quests, gain XP and a kind of currency I’m calling “Street Cred” or SC’s, perhaps even have avatars. I am hoping to find someone who can help me do that, something along the lines of Chore Wars which I understand is made in a commonly known language called PHP. Despite decades of online activity I am afraid I never learned to code.

Forgive me if this message is terse. I only get an hour a day of computer access at the library, and I have to spend some of that time continuing my job hunt. Still, I invite anyone who is interested to email me at macmcgill7@gmail.com , as you might imagine my access is limited but every once in awhile I can sneak a quick peek through other people’s computers. I would very much like to do this and hope that I can get in contact with someone who will help me.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Mac McGill

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Hi Mac! I would love to hear more about this idea. I'm not a coder either, but you have really intrigued me with your description. Would you be willing to post some of the achievements and quests? Perhaps hearing more details about the game might trigger some ideas for folks about what might be a quick way to prototype this! I hope you'll share more. :)

I just posted a lot more details. I am very flattered by your interest. Thank you.

Hey Mac this does sound like a good idea! I would love to hear some of the core elements of the game, how it's played and what's involved. Setting up a website with wordpress wouldn't be too hard, and the plugins would allow functionality that could cover your requirements. In addition, and best of all, it would be free if done through Wordpress.com. If you had any questions I could walk you through the set up process. Let me look around and see what a good free option would be to gather together a community. At one time I believe Ning.com was free, but I don't think that's the case anymore? Not sure, maybe others know?

I can confirm -- Ning is no longer free, unfortunately! Aaron, that's a really generous and awesome offer to talk Mac through a Wordpress possibility, I hope he takes you up on it! :)

My students are starting to make Hobokin mini-games for Mac McGill's Hobokin project :)


So Aaron, will wordpress or buddypress have the functionality Mac is needing now that he has provided sufficient detail?  Since he has such limited access he might be willing to pass the keys to you to get it initially setup?  

I am absolutely willing to pass the keys over. Indeed, it was exactly that sort of functionality I was hoping to achieve by coming to gameful. Of course, I understand people have their own projects, lives and that time is our most valuable non-renewable resource. Still, I am willing to do something like that, and in fact I am available through txt messaging on my dumb phone.

Hello.   If your ARG requires social networking features, Aaron has a great direction on Wordpress.   You also might consider the following plug-in: http://buddypress.org/  

It's a pretty amazing free plug-in.  

All the best!

Yeah I did a lot of researching when I was setting up Indie-Love.com, and I gave a bunch of different things a shot. Wordpress really is the easiest thing to use and buddypress is fantastic there's a ton of plug-ins associated with it. I'm not tremendously familiar with them, but I could set up a new wordpress install somewhere and experiment a bit. 

Looks like the domain hobokin.com has been procured, hopefully on behalf of this project.  Looking forward to hearing more about the quests and achievements.  It's too bad that you have such limited computer time, perhaps when this project gets rolling you can convince the librarian, or a friend to give you more access.  I can't wait to share this with my students and see what spin-off games they make!

Hi Mac! Btw, when you said you were on for only an hour, was that once a day or once a week or ? 

Oh my gosh-I can't believe thw onderful replies on here, and thank you all for your interest and encouragement. From Jane McGonigal herself of all people.

As I've said I only get 1 hour once a day online or on a computer at all at the library. As you might imagine, that time goes really fast. Not to mention I'm trying to put a final draft of a screenplay adaptation of Greg Bear's City at the End of Time to task, and in my last move I may have misplaced my jump drive. Thank Goodness I have scrawled on hardcopy.

I don't have my HoboKin notes with me, so some of the ideas that are a little more thought out are going to be the ones I miss.

As this is a game not only about experience but awareness it includes things that anyone should feel comfortable doing. Like "Watch the movie Ironweed for 500 XP and 150 street cred", "Read The Grapes of Wrath for 2000 XP and 500 SC", you'd get a bonus if you did this in a group and had a discussion about it.

There are other aspects which would, and should, make people distinctintly uncomfortable and in fact have aspects of real world danger to them. Not that I would want anyone to go courting danger, but it's out there. I have been physically accosted twice pulling bottles and cans out of the trash, and verbally abused a few times as well. Not to mention the Southern Californian penchant to own loosely fenced dogs with the personalities of serial killers. Though in the name of fairness I have also had people come running out of their apartments when they saw me digging and hand me empty six packs. So you could imagine a quest where you participate in the wonderful world of the recycling industry where just taking your ghosts and empties in doesn't count, you have to go looking for them. Probably the most challenging and humiliating thing I've had to do is eat out of the trash. Hunger is a very serious motivator, almost as strong as nicotine addiction (yeah, it's humor, but it's a dry humor), and when you got to eat and your pathetic food stamps allowance has run out and you have NO money, you do what you have to do. Obviously, you can get sick this way. Very seriously sick. Nor is what you find particularly appetizing. This isn't about bragging rights or some piece of legendary gear, this is about being able to truly identify with, really know, what the homeless and impoverished have to deal with every single day.

So I'm already halfway through my time, and I have other things to do online today, but let me leave you with a story of what happened to me last week. I had been staying in a flower shop which started to go seriously wrong for reasons I didn't really understand. My new part time employer had a theory that the woman who runs the shop and had been giving me very low pay to deliver flowers for her thought that I would essentially be so grateful for the place to crash at night that I would engage in physical intimacy with her. Now, she's 68, 3'5", has mild palsy, and probably weighs about 200 lbs. So....not gonna happen. Probably not even possible. When she figured that out, she turned on me and with no warning demanded I return her keys.

Within an hour through a friend of a friend I arranged to get a room at ahouse run by a crazy person who hoards random things he finds in alleys. I'd call that good gamesmanship. In fact I'd call that an epic win.

I am seriously out of time today but I look forward to discussing this further. 



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