In Memoriam: Dave Szulborski

In Memoriam: David S. “Dave” Szulborski

1958 - 2009


It is with great sadness that we share the news that Dave Szulborski, a long time ARG community member and game designer, has passed away at the age of 51. He is survived by his wife Marianne and his son Tyler. Dave has attended many of the ARGFest-o-Con conferences over the years, and was the keynote speaker at last year’s event in Boston. Dave was in Las Vegas in 2003 for the first meet-up, complete with T-shirts and other giveaways for those in attendance. In total, he attended five of the eight events and was a featured panel speaker in New York, San Francisco and Boston. As we mourn for our friend, we are reminded of his involvement and support of this festival over the years, and we feel that the best way to recognize Dave for his contributions is to dedicate ARGFest-o-Con 2009 to his memory.

Dave Szulborski became a household name in the burgeoning alternate reality gaming community as early as 2001. His first three projects, a trilogy of games that were part of his ChangeAgents universe, showed Dave to be an imaginative story teller with an excellent grasp of emerging technologies. With the release of Chasing the Wish in 2003, Dave helped to cement the status of alternate reality games as more than just a marketing device. Dave maintained a steady flow of independent game design, releasing one game per year in 2004 and 2005, before signing on as a developer for Art of the Heist. The puzzles Dave put together for AotH are still talked about today, particularly one called the Evil Cube.

Dave is a celebrated author, authoring This Is Not A Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming and Through the Rabbit Hole: A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Alternate Reality Games. He also designed online marketing web sites and games, developed a comic book version of Chasing the Wish, pitched a television pilot, wrote for various online magazines and weblogs, and was a wonderful public speaker. His work was always done with the greatest attention to detail and was looked upon with the highest regard and admiration by players and colleagues alike.

ARGFest-o-Con 2008 Keynote Address

Click above to play The Story Inside: Making ARGs for Fun and Profit
Download .AVI (387MB)
Download .PDF Transcript (42KB)

List of Works/Gameography

Alternate Reality Games

2001: Majestic – beta tester, content creator through BIOS program – Electronic Arts
2001: ChangeAgents – Creative Chip- independent
2001: ChangeAgents – Operation Mindset- independent, done as part of Majestic’s BIOS Program and featured on their website and in their newsletter
2002: ChangeAgents – Out of Control- independent
2003: Chasing the Wish – independent
2004: Urban Hunt (Dread House) - independent
2005: ARGTalk - independent
2005: Art of the Heist – for Audi, McKinney-Silver, Chelsea Digital, GMD Studios
2006: Who is Benjamin Stove? – for General Motors, Campbell-Ewald, GMD Studios
2006: Catching the Wish – independent
2007: Unnatural Selection (Monster Hunter Club) – for The Host movie, ARGStudios, Magnolia Pictures
2007: Helical Training program - an ARG based training program for BBN Technologies and the U.S. military (DARPA and JFCOM)
2008: Holomove – for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, McCann Erickson, @radicalmedia

Non-ARG Marketing Campaigns and Online Games

2006: Hedgegames – for HP and Dreamworks for Over the Hedge film – Campfire Media
2006: Santa Barbara International Film Festival Podcasting official website design
2006: The Missing Gnome interactive components for Travelocity – McKinney-Silver
2007: Fairy Tale Ransom – M&M’S and Dreamworks for Shrek the Third – G2 Interactive
2007: Rise of the Chevy Autobots – Chevrolet, Dreamworks, and Paramount for the 2007 Transformers movie - Campbell-Ewald
2007: The President’s Book Blog – Disney for the 2007 film National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
2008: Starburst Brand And Skittles Brand “Summer Fever Search Party” – for G2 Interactive and Skittles
2008: Vroengard Academy – Random House and Deep Focus for the 2008 book release Brisingr
2008: Red Seal puzzle – HBO and Campfire for the HBO TV series True Blood
2008: No Known Survivors – Electronic Arts and Deep Focus for the 2008 video game Dead Space


2005: Wrote and published This Is Not A Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming
2006: Wrote and published Through the Rabbit Hole: A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Alternate
Reality Games
2007: Contributor to book Space, Time, Play
2008: Contributor to books Digital Storytelling: A Creator’s Guide To Interactive Entertainment, Volume 2 and Branding Only Works on Cattle

Television Work

2006: Danger Game TV Show pilot with Superfine Films (NYC)

Speaking Engagements

2005: June, NYC ARGFest
2006: March, SAGA Writing Interactive Fiction Conference in Germany
2007: March, Keynote Speech, University of Florida Digital Gaming Conference
2007: March, panel speaker at ARGFest San Francisco
2008: July, panel and keynote speaker at ARGFest Boston
2008: October, speaker at M.I.T. Innovation Lab, Cambridge MA


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