Nov 272013
 

I was invited to present a keynote, of sorts, at the Merging Media 2013 conference – a short and sweet two day conference featuring many great topics and good international speakers with a focus on the business/production side of multi platform but also the more usual esoteric aspects of transmedia and inherent community thinking. My talk was originally going to be a show and tell of all the new opportunities afforded to us by mobile, social & always-on networks, eye-candy with a chunk of futurist ‘my how the world is changing’ – but I decided to turn it more into a ‘what makes a compelling experience’ combined with ‘state of the industry (covered in my previous post)’ combined with a ‘process approach to creating service’, ¬†talk instead – with a little of the navigating the new landscape for good measure. So waaay too much in the time allotted, but at least this article has room to breathe ūüôā

I hope I give a flavour of the talk below. I believe Merging Media will be making videos available too – which I won’t be able to watch as I rushed the latter part :(. The first part was actually partly scripted so that made it easier to copy some of that below the slides but there is much much more afterwards with lots of embedded media, I think there is a flow in the post. Obviously the slides only tell a quarter of the story and embedded after the break, but first…

Hello and thanks for inviting me to keynote here in wonderful Vancouver. Being one quarter French Canadian I do feel a little affinity with some of you, and have enjoyed a little time exploring & capturing the environment in the two days prior to this conference. But moving on let me apologise. I have struggled hard to find an innovative new theme, any new jewels of wisdom for you to ponder and apply to your own projects. So much in the transmedia arena has been talked about, theorised and postulated as the journey has only just begun. Perhaps the journey through the presentation itself may throw up some nuggets?. The media and storytelling environment in still in major transition and I and nobody else really knows where we are going, all I can do is prepare myself and others for this change. But first:

An Organic Multiplatform Transmedia Experience?

house
This is where I live at the moment and where, I believe, I had a compelling multiplatform experience. It was about two weeks ago. It involved personal life and death decisions, it involved loved ones, friends who lost everything, physical exertion, quests and games, feeling part of and working with a community, rich information, lots of information, the authorities, the law, anxiety, stress, stories of loss and heroism and making profound choices.
Dec 302011
 

Originally published Oct 2011 in Wired Magazine ‚ÄėChange Accelerators‚Äė by Gary Hayes 2 of 5

Image by Gary Hayes

The alarm rings. Get out of bed, have a shower, dress, breakfast, grab your briefcase, and bus ticket and out the door. Now start RUNNING! Zombies are chasing you. Or is it pirates? Or the Mafia? Games and stories have grown legs and Facebook MafiaWars and Playstation console games have jumped into the physical world. Welcome to the most exciting and entertaining commute of your life.

For the first time in technological history portable devices that are able to send and receive game/video media, are now location aware. This means big changes in where we experience our stories. They will be always on. Around the next corner. We will be living inside the story world.

To get a glimpse of future services in the locative, pervasive space we simply need to look at the now and extrapolate.

As kids we all loved playground games: Hide and seek, capture the flag, cowboys and Indians captivated our imaginations and it was an important part of our social development. Today adults use technology to recreate those experiences for real using our own imaginary, place-based Holodecks. Fulfilling some of our adult needs in this space,¬†The Go Game¬†for example advertises itself as ‚Äúthe future of corporate play,‚ÄĚ team-building, and self discovery.

Beyond mapping, check-in utility, or GPS functionality, what kinds of story game and locative services will get millions off their behinds and out into the real world? It takes a lot to commit to wandering around, scavenger hunting for morsels of story. How in the future may locative gamesevolve into being mass media? Or are they really just for niche groups?

This is and has moved way out of niche already. Early locative entertainment, such as orienteering and geocaching (user-created capsules hunt) are still played regularly by five million globally. More story-driven, first-generation Alternate Reality Games with locative elements such as Gentrificationor I Love Bees, attracted several million players. LBS, or locative-based services, have radicallyaltered the social gaming landscape already in Asia for hundreds of millions. A recent Pew mobile report noted that more than half of all smartphones are used for social and utility locative services and by 2015 it will be a $21 billion industry.

What makes and will make these so compelling, to so many?

1 PLACE

The stories and games contextually fit their surroundings. The origins of this genre have often been based on architecture, audio tours, and urban map layouts, using early wearable computers or earphones. For example, back in 2004 PacManhattan re-created the 1980s game around Central Park’s grid-like streets and had hundreds of players running around collecting virtual dots. The creators wanted to:

‚Äúexplore what happens when games are removed from their ‚Äėlittle world‚Äô of tabletops, televisions and computers and placed in the larger ‚Äėreal world‚Äô of street corners, and cities.‚ÄĚ

2 STORY

This element can put you and your friends at the center of the action. For example, ‚ÄúSpy Am I‚ÄĚ a massive multiplayer locative game, lets players be¬†the secret agent,¬† or live the life of a criminal. There are many¬†story based pervasive game¬†apps being launched on GPS enabled smartphones that let you explore your darker side such as¬†Crime is Life¬†or¬†Crime Plays.

For those who want to make their real world a little bit more terrifying than it already is we have social locative games such as Zombie Apocalypse, where you have to really run, to outrun the attacking man eaters.

Speaking of running, marketers are not far behind in this race with viral examples such as¬†Nike Grid¬†or¬†Mini‚Äôs Getaway¬†(‚Äúthis game has united us, it is so social‚ÄĚ) that combined the best formula of story, game, and exercise with lots of social locative strategy.

Our locative experience tools are powerful social organizers. Everything in our future lives will be geo-tagged.

3 SOCIETY

Set in the physical world means the same tools available to storytellers and marketers are available to everybody, including activists. So the recent Occupy Wall Street meet-ups themselves begin to look like locative fiction. Hundreds of thousands of geo-tagged narratives create probably the world’s most connected locative story yet. In a similar story-world, but oddly similar in focus, Tourality and Shadow Cities get you and your friends to battle, find treasure, and lay claim to areas of the city.

Flash mobs are a form of locative storytelling, a sort of organized social Holodeck. The social unification that comes from the best of these choreographed events, beginning with Frozen Grand Central, spread around the world. They become memes copied and extended through global imitation.

The story future of this specialized entertainment format is likely to come from expert traditional cinematic and marketing storytellers. They will be experimenting and extending fictional narratives into geo space. Pandemic 1.0 by Lance Weiler & Seize the Media is an infected world extending plot lines and challenges from cinematic games three years earlier. A present day example of future locative story, this played at the Sundance Film Festival and involved the best aspects of team play, discovery, and clever use of multi-device and place.

The popularity of locative stories and games will be proportional to marketers and writers making it worth our while to ask for our stories-to-go. As the technology matures and location lock-on is instantaneous, it will truly take off. The technology already fits in with our existing out of home routines, particularly when it comes to commenting, working, eating, and entertainment.

But back home, watching a forensic cop show on the TV. At the end, you’re told to go out of the house and help track down the killer on the street, mobile locative device in hand!

What are the security implications of this? In one evening, 200,000 viewers turn into 200,000 private eyes on the streets of London?! Would you take part in these types of services?

But think, at the end of the day, as the sun sets in a dark backstreet in your hometown, your heart starts pounding again. Will you make it back home alive?

Consider yourself, entertained.

Jul 272011
 

OK not really a Dummies guide as there are some complex elements in here, ¬†but one has to use whatever memes are in vogue ūüôā A few weeks ago I was commissioned by Screen Australia to write a very basic structure & guide for producers relatively new to multi platform content to structure & document their propositions, after they have developed the ‘audience centric’ concepts. This has just been published on the Screen Australia site as a digital resource for those needing to document projects for transmedia productions.

Continue reading »

Feb 182011
 

Have about 22 draft posts sitting in my WordPress Post box, so a bit of catch-up in next week or two to clear some out!

Outside of the talk of what ‘transmedia’ actually is, the next key topic of controversy is how can you make money from it vs spending marketing money ‘on it’ to promote a traditional product/project. The Holy Grail at the moment is can we make the ‘multi platform, transmedia form’ an entertainment or service necessity – something worth users putting hands in pockets for (or clicking that PayPal button) and something worth spending the time and effort immersing yourself in – when there are so many other ‘linear’ fragments to graze on? This post therefore looks briefly at a core aspect of transmedia or experience design that is oft left out of the equation, the user need and how we can map out and create transmedia to meet those needs. Simple concept time.

Alongside traditional needs analysis and user centric design I have been writing & teaching recently about matching any creative project to a user or audience base – going beyond crude demographics or even psychographics and thinking about raw, primal need. I often start by saying

Before we can make any creation or experience ‘overwhelmingly’ engaging for someone else we have to be able to identify & define a broad range of needs that encompasses the physical through to social then to self-empowerment? Ask yourself…

  • Does your work go beyond short term titillation¬†(think 30 second ad spots, short films, virals or stunt marketing campaigns in shopping malls)¬†and encourage repeat visits over many months?
  • Does it contain intimate, social and group building elements?
  • Is it a trusted, familiar environment to use and take part in?
  • Does it actually work, not fall over, most of the time?
  • Does it encourage user creativity, stimulate user ethics or open their minds to other worlds
  • Will they be rewarded through the respect of others?

While I was constructing these points many moons ago it dawned on me I the similarities with the five levels in Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs which as you know was a paper from 1943 and book in 1954 looking at how we are motivated and what basic needs have to be fulfilled ‘before’ we can attain higher levels of engagement with ourselves and others. His work has already been used in marketing areas such as¬†Transpersonal Business (a new area using psychology to develop an understanding of consumer behaviour) and mapped to other emerging areas such as Online Communities by Amy Jo Kim in her 2000 book Community Building on the Web (hat tip Laurel Papworth 2008) or more dry areas such as ‘the internet hierarchy of needs‘. But here I am more interested in how Transmedia Story or Service creation has strong parallels in Maslow’s simple five level diagram, from a ground up user centric, development approach.

The Transmedia Heirarcy of Needs

So designing any transmedia service from a user centric design perspective, the idea in the above draft ‘pyramid’ diagram would be to start at level 1 ‘Physiological’ as a foundation and gradually build and evolve the social, play, story and design/functionality elements – taking into account the next four levels. It implies simply that first you need to have at your disposal a good variety of technically sound platforms with an appropriate mix of reliable media before you build the more sophisticated levels. How many services start at level 3? They go straight for the Facebook and Twitter network storytelling without solid user hub sites, or technically strong subscriber management or well thought out game or story. How many projects start at the top level? Linear and mostly one way broadcast forms, strong on story & morality but without any of the below social, multi faceted and play levels that draw users into long term, personal engagement? Here is the text version for the ‘copy, paste’rs’ amoungst us ūüôā Please note this is a first draft and will probably be embellished!

  • Level 1 Physiological –¬†technically sound, expected mix of media, reliability, available, multi platform variety, solid production
  • Level 2 Safety –¬†quality of service, trustworthiness of providers,¬†privacy of gameplay, service permanence,¬†level game playing field, shared rules and values
  • Level 3 Love/Belonging –¬†include friends and family, network elements,¬†discover new friends, share experiences
  • Level 4 Esteem –¬†able to excel & be seen to excel,¬†system recognises contribution¬†and/or abilities,¬†take part in team play, appear on leader boards & be peer reviewed
  • Level 5 Self-Actualization –¬†able to¬†add personal¬†original content,¬†the story surprises,¬†challenges morals &¬†enables problem solving,¬†become self empowered,¬†understand the world better

I have covered the concepts of each of those levels on many previous posts (eg: Producing Transmedia Stories and 1999 presentations such as Cross Media Design) and sure the mapping concepts here are not rocket science or particularly jaw dropping, but if you buy into Maslow’s Hierarchy and particularly the ‘level’ and evolution aspects, you really need to consider how those layered needs map across to your field whatever that may be? Transmedia, communities, education, marketing, public services, politics, social media and on.

UPDATE 1
I like this simple social media mapping from Erica Glasier too, which actually highlights specific services for each level ūüôā

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, & the Social Media that Fulfill 'Em

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