Project Buffalo - A web based multi-media story
Created by: Noelle Ireland, Harrison Bolin, Emi Lee
While approaching our Capstone project for the Creative Technology and Design program at the University of Colorado Boulder, our goal as a team was to create an alternative reality game (ARG) that players could access from home online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we hoped to create an online experience that would lessen the quarantine blues and forge connections between inquisitive individuals.
Enter Project Buffalo: an interactive, immersive, multi-media, web-based storytelling game that you can play today.
The game asks players to become digital archeologists as they discover the story of a group of CU Boulder students who formed the AURA Club versus the suspicious Department of Paranormal and Extraterrestrial Studies (DPES). The primary playspace for Project Buffalo is two websites, auraclub.org and cu-dpes.com. Players work their way through puzzles and ciphers to uncover the fictional story and the fate of the AURA Club members.
We promoted Project Buffalo using guerilla marketing techniques. We put up suspicious posters relating to the AURA Club and DPES, sent in Zoom lectures, posted on Twitter and Reddit through fake profiles, and discussed in our podcast Unexplained Boulder (specifically created to promote Project Buffalo). We encouraged the use of a Discord Server that we started to facilitate collaboration between players. With 14 puzzles, two websites (plus a secret admin page), and thousands of words of content, we created a short virtual escape room that draws on tropes from other alternative reality games.
The response from players was incredibly positive. Players made their way through the AURA Clubs meeting minutes, found secret locked sites, and worked their way through the game. In our first three weeks, we had 3.6K website views and 308 unique players, which we considered a resounding success. To reward our dedicated players, those who completed the game received a unique Discord role and some physical stickers and pins for the first few to finish. This experience, we hope, brought smiles to our players and promoted curiosity.
If you'd like to play the game yourself, come on in! The best place to start is the AURA Club homepage. Alternatively, Episode 3 of the Unexplained Boulder podcast introduces the game in the last 60 seconds of the episode. Finally, feel free to join our Discord if you want to ask for help!
Emi Lee - Portfolio Site