Using Alternate Reality Environments to Help Enrich Research Efforts (UAREHERE)

This Request for Information (RFI) is issued to solicit information relevant to a possible future IARPA investment. Respondents are invited to provide comments on the content of this announcement to include suggestions for improving the scope of a possible solicitation to ensure that every effort is made to adequately address the scientific and technical challenges described below. Responses to this request may be used to support the development of, and subsequently be incorporated within, a future IARPA solicitation and therefore must be available for unrestricted public distribution. Neither proprietary nor classified concepts or information should be included in the responses. The following sections of this announcement contain details of the scope of technical efforts of interest, along with instructions for the submission of responses.

Background and Scope

IARPA is soliciting responses to this RFI in order to assess the extent to which Alternate Reality Environments (AREs), such as Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), may provide capabilities that allow for high-quality, externally valid social, behavioral and psychological research in near-realworld contexts.

This RFI invites interested parties to respond with ideas, approaches, and evidence that can address one, some, or all of the following questions:

  1. What, if any, social, behavioral, and/or psychological research has been conducted using AREs (to include ARGs)?
  2. Is there evidence that ARE/ARG-based research provides greater external validity than other methods of social, behavioral, and/or psychological research?
  3. What are the key elements to incorporate when designing or using AREs/ARGs for research purposes? What may be the biggest challenges for designing or using AREs/ARGs for research?
  4. How might one design an ARE/ARG that combines periods of controlled data collection as well as periods of "free play" and interactions?
  5. How might subject recruitment, screening, and informed consent be performed for an ARE/ARG, while limiting priming effects that may occur when explaining the purpose of a research study?
  6. What protections can be put in place to maintain the privacy, safety, and anonymity of subjects? How have previous AREs/ARGs addressed these issues? Responses should consider issues regarding the collection of data via personal identifiers that may be sensitive (e.g. user names, phone numbers, emails, IP addresses, etc.), other data that may potentially be sensitive, and data security and protections.

Preparation Instructions to Respondents

IARPA solicits respondents to submit ideas related to this topic for use by the Government in formulating a potential IARPA investment (such as a program, seedlings, or a Grand Challenge). IARPA requests that submittals briefly and clearly describe the potential approach or concept, outline critical technical issues, and comment on the expected performance, robustness, and estimated cost of the proposed approach. This announcement contains all of the information required to submit a response. No additional forms, kits, or other materials are needed.

IARPA appreciates responses from all capable and qualified sources from within and outside of the U.S. Because IARPA is interested in an integrated approach, responses from teams with complementary areas of expertise are encouraged. Responses have the following formatting requirements:

  1. A one page cover sheet that identifies the title, organization(s), respondent's technical and administrative points of contact - including names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all co-authors, and clearly indicating its association with IARPA-RFI-13-03;
  2. A single overview briefing chart (limited to 1 page, not including cover sheet and references) graphically depicting the key ideas and a written description addressing one or more of the key questions above (limited to 5 pages, not including cover sheet and references, in minimum 12 point Times New Roman font, appropriate for single-sided, single-spaced 8.5 by 11 inch paper, with 1-inch margins);
  3. An attached list of citations (any significant claims or reports of success must be accompanied by citations, and reference material MUST be attached);

Submission Instructions to Respondents

Responses to this RFI are due no later than 4:00 pm Eastern on Friday April 19, 2013. All submissions must be electronically submitted to Inquiries to this RFI must be submitted to Do not send questions with proprietary content. No telephonic inquiries will be accepted.

Disclaimers and Important Notes

This is an RFI issued solely for information and new investment planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. Respondents are advised that IARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received, or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI. Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. It is the respondents' responsibility to ensure that the submitted material has been approved for public release by the organization that funded or sponsored the referenced research.

The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited, nor is the Government obligated to issue a solicitation based on responses received. Neither proprietary nor classified concepts or information should be included in the submittal. Input on technical aspects of the responses may be solicited by IARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements.

i AREs create an "alternate" reality out of the real world by using different media (e.g. print, cell phones, websites, augmented reality, etc.), to superimpose fictional narratives on physical reality. While AREs are constructed and communicated through multi-media, they involve having people accomplish tasks or interact with others using live actions in the physical world. In this way, research using AREs would presumably be different from research in "virtual worlds" (where tasks/interactions are entirely online), observational research (which may lack experimental control to test specific variables) and laboratory research (which may require subjects to come to a testing site that is clearly distinct from their daily experience of the world). For more on examples of existing AREs/ARGs, see and


For information contact:


Posted Date: March 11, 2013
Responses Due: April 19, 2013