Gaming takes an alternate path

A new game is slowly infecting students around Northern Kentucky University. The game doesn’t need a controller, a board or cards — all the game requires is a computer and a sharp mind.

“The Fourth Dimension,” an alternate reality game (ARG), has been running for a few weeks, but it is still in the early stages.

“It took about six months from start to where we are now,” said senior media informatics major Beth Russell. “The game isn’t even finished. We are working on the end of the game while the beginning is going.”

Games, like “Dungeons and Dragons,” have been around for decades. But most role playing games are board games, video games or live action. An ARG takes place entirely online.

“The Fourth Dimension” uses a player’s Facebook account to interact with others. Following the main characters allows one to contribute to solving the various puzzles.

One of the characters is Jennie Sullivan and is portrayed by an actual NKU student.

“It’s a little weird at times to think that there are some people who don’t know me as Karlee Parnell and only know me as Jennie Sullivan,” senior media informatics major Karlee Parnell said.

The story surrounding Jennie is a mystery. She received a strange letter from someone with ties to her father, even though her father has been dead for 10 years. This is where a player steps in and begins the quest to help Jennie.

Russell and her group of 14 student creators are using their game to showcase Griffin Hall and media informatics here at NKU.

The game is set to run for six or seven weeks. It’s final stages include sending players to different historic locations around NKU.

“Players will be learning a lot,” Russell said.

Caches of information are at each location; the first person there will get the most information and hopefully will share with other players. Eventually the information will be removed from a location so players have to move quickly.

Players earn points by solving puzzles and figuring out more elements to the story. There are prizes as well. Though Russell could not say what the prizes would be, the mention of an iPad slipped out.

The game has been going on since the beginning of the semester but players can still jump into the mystery. If a player is impatient and just wants to be caught up, he or she can scroll Jennie Sullivan’s wall to know the outcome of past puzzles.

To play visit Visit Jennie’s blog, “Point, Click, Jennie” at