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The Tessera

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 •  Developer: Brigham Young University, University of Maryland, and Tinder Transmedia
 •  Year(s) Shown: 2017
 •  Platform: PC, Mac
 •  Website:

The Tessera is a title featured at IndieCade 2017.

About The Tessera

Sponsored by the NSF, Brigham Young University, the University of Maryland, and Tinder Transmedia have collaborated with the Computer History Museum to design The Tessera, an educational Alternate Reality Game (ARG). The Tessera is a gothic ghost story in which players engage with the history of computing by interacting with famous persona—including Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage—who influenced the development of information technologies. Through gameplay, teen players acquire and practice computational thinking skills such as decomposition, abstraction, and debugging. Gameplay takes place across two primary locations, though this submission focuses on the first:

The Tessera: Light in the Dark. Deep inside Horsley Towers, members of a secret society called The Tessera have locked away their inventions for two centuries to protect them against the inscrutable, sinister S. But now S has found them, determined to destroy the products of human ingenuity with its anarchic imagination. By collaboratively solving network puzzles, completing circuits using logic gates, assembling interlocking pneumatic pipes, and designing their own technological inventions, players drive the darkness away.

The Tessera: Ghostly Tracks. Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California. When the ghosts of historical figures start haunting electronic devices in the museum, teenagers must help them restore order by piecing together computational clues that will fend off the forces of chaos.

As a transmedia experience, The Tessera is firmly rooted in both the real world through the Computer History Museum experience, classroom use, and physical card game, as well as the digital world through the online hub for players (including the game and its collaboration platforms), the museum experience app, and the wiki. Through its immersive, interactive narrative, The Tessera not only engages teens who are already interested in computing, but also enables those who don’t think of themselves as “computer scientists” to imagine how they can become active participants in today’s information technology-rich world.