Feb 012009
 

What may save TV may also truly grow Social Virtual Worlds. As online audiences continue to ignore TV and vanilla/social virtual worlds suffer from a lack of direction, perhaps the marriage of the two will save both from irrelevancy? A report by Gary Hazlitt in various TV branded virtual world spaces.

twinityspiritThere have been several forays by TV properties (gradually losing their audience and associated ad revenues) into social virtual worlds over the past two years. I don’t just mean branded one-off events but actually setting up shop, building a familiar and representive space for the ‘users’ to play in. These forays range from at one end, simple branded spaces pushing episodes on screens through to actually running variants of the TV format to be played out by participant avatars in a detailed build -with many points in-between. But before the meat of the post (a couple of new entrants) here is a quick list to give you an idea of some of the shows and channels that have tried, had some success or failed. As I have been involved in a few of them and visited all, I have listed ones I think have had most impact (engagement) through to those who didn’t quite get it (reversioning).

  1. NBC’s Gossip Girl
  2. MTV’s – Laguna Beach on There.com (also Hills, PimpMyRide etc)
  3. Big Brother – PersonalizeMedia detailed report & at launch
  4. Showtimes The L Word
  5. CBS -  CSI:New York and from TechCrunch
  6. Weather Channel – Info, simulations and Extreme Sports area
  7. Australia’s ABC TV Island – Channel & some programmes (eg: Librarians)
  8. NBC Universal Media Island – Channel & concerts & events
  9. London Live – the first music show to appear on the cyberchannel: Virtual Life.TV
  10. SkyNews Island – News Set role play
  11. The Money Programme BBC screening
  12. Channel 4 – Radio Station
  13. Sundance Channel – Virtual screening room
  14. Inhabited TV 1997! – BBC, BT, Illuminations and others
  15. many more…0ver to you and comments!

twinityspirit01There is a rule of thumb regarding TV execs and virtual worlds or serious games initiatives – do not let the TV folk take control as they have too much ingrained baggage around non-participatory media and the resultant compromise is often of no use to anyone – get people who understand game play (and be aware that often excludes traditional game developers) and social media involved or face the consequences. The ones above that really worked allowed the participant audience to really ‘live’ in the shoes of the characters either by having activities similar to the protagonists, meeting the ‘fictional characters’, a social space that resonated with the shows aesthetic or a great set with game-like elements. I have talked a lot about Mixed Reality Entertainment in the past and how one of the most innovative uses of virtual space is to extend the TV or Film property into a 24/7, participatory environment. The main reason for doing this is to drive traffic to the TV but also to keep existing followers loyal to the branded property. As an example there is more detail about the reasoning on my post on Big Brother (good and bad) in Second Life (Witnessing the Birth of an Entertainment Form) as well as posts nearby on CSI in Second Life and many of MTVs properties in There.com (TV Property Branded Virtual Worlds – The Beginning). There are moves around the world including BBC and many European broadcasters who are creating worlds alongside and in some cases in front of the TV episodics and this is the important point. Promoting films with games or virtual world spaces has a very limited life span, forging a strong link between virtual world events and TV episodics is to me a virtuous circle – especially considering the 200 plus worlds populated by the youth audience who are typically turning off TV – teens and tweens. Earlier there were many experiments of TV/World hybrids and I was involved, as mentioned before, in the Mirror. Here is John Wyver (then Illuminations) talking about that (remember this is circa 1997!).

The other key element that contributed to the success of The Mirror, much as in real life, was the provision of regular “hosts” for the space. These needed to be frequent visitors who spent a significant amount of their time in the world, and whom users could have some reasonable expectation of encountering when they logged on. These hosts would greet new entrants, introduce people to each other, point out activities and generally help people around. More than this, however, over time they became the core of the community of the world, encouraging people to return and beginning to develop the particular language and culture of The Mirror. Needless to say, they were the saddest to see it turned off after seven weeks – although a number of relationships begun virtually have continued in the real world – including at least one marriage and one recently born child.

Recent company start-ups or collaborations also suggest that there are moves afoot. Icarus studios are squarely aiming at the TV/VirtualWorld hybrid and about 18 months ago Endemol & EA teamed up to create Virtual World TV formats (VirtualMe) based on Deal or No Deal and Big Brother. Also there have been a plethora of immersive film launches (play-in-the-set-type builds) across the metaverse and I Legend, Digital Hollywood, Iron Man, Quantum of Solace and Transformers spring to mind as I write – but as I said this post is more to do with a continuous, what happens on TV resonantes into the virtual world and what happens there is reflected into the TV episodics. (I regularly consult on this specific area so won’t go into any more detail!)…

habbo_heroes_image2

So, it is interesting to see this trend continuing as new world Twinity starts to do more experiential ‘film’ property marketing and even more ‘demographically focussed’ the current series of Heroes being extended into Habbo

The agreement was brokered by the William Morris Agency and marks the first time ‘Heroes’ has partnered with a virtual world.

..but not in the usual way. As reported by LA Times “‘Heroes’ hops on to Habbo’s virtual world” they will be introducing a virtual-only character Syn Anders who will act as a bridge or guide to the TV series. NBC themselves give more detail here.

While following directions from a mysterious virtual messenger, the new character will take the audience on an adventure as she discovers the history of ‘Heroes’ through a journey that travels back and forth between Habbo.com and the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site. “We’re excited to work with Habbo to introduce a new character that will extend the enormously popular and Emmy® Award winning ‘Heroes’ interactive story beyond the official Web site on NBC.com,” said Stephen Andrade, senior vice president, Digital Development and General Manager, NBC.com. On Habbo.com, fans of the show will be able to interact with the new virtual hero through a variety of in-game activities. Habbos participating in a weeklong quest will discover their own special powers and will be recruited as new heroes. Those who successfully complete the mission will be awarded various virtual prizes. On the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site, the new virtual hero will be woven into several of the in-universe, interactive extensions of the on-air show, including a character profile, the Primatech Paper Assignment Tracker and new chapters of the ‘Heroes’ graphic novels.

One of the more obvious links between TV and film of course is simply to broadcast a seed back story as a series, animated makes most sense to keep a strong visual link and then run a MMOG alongside it. This extends, involves the audience more in the narrative and allows them to personalize the experience. We are seeing this about to play out (in Asia at least) with Fusion Fall on the Cartoon network.

This is a great use of virtual worlds and it also shows that you don’t need richly rendered environments to be able to engage with participants in these spaces. Also in terms of the ‘linking’ paradigm, it is close to ‘my’ level 3 wikipedia cross-media definition

Excerpt “Cross-media 3.0“ Bridges. – The truest form of cross-media where the story or service structure is specifically authored to drive the audience using strong Call-To-Actions, across media devices to continue the journey. The content placed on the other platform is critical to staying in touch with the experience and the narrative bridges tease you towards investigating or moving to another media form/platform. Obvious examples include a TV show that ends suddenly and gives you a URL to explore more. It may be an SMS that teases and points you towards a live concert in a city square which then leads you to a TV show, then to a podcast then to subscription emails. The trigger, or bridge, is the critical component of this in motivating the cross-media action.”

twinityspirit02Onto Twinity and the images here and above are me playing around in the pre-build set of the recently released and not universally praised film The Spirit. Although it grossed $10 million in the first 4 days it was pulled up for being unemotional and 2D. Well part of the problem generally with many big features now is that audiences have changed and want something more experiential – especially with ‘comic-noir’ films – why not let them ‘live’ in the story environment (my wikipedia item)? Twinity though have teamed up with Will Eisner studios to do this event (not in any way my ideal episodic but potentially a way for the Twinity user base to ‘create episodic, comic-noir’ machinima on-going?

CineStar Spirits you Away to Another World – CineStar’s CUBIX cinema in virtual Berlin is the premiere address for all movie-related events in Twinity. The cinema is currently showing the trailer and other exciting movie material from the upcoming premiere of The Spirit, a movie based on Will Eisner’s cult 1940s comic book series, which will be coming to a cinema screen near you from 5 February.  Fans of the movie can get their hands on exclusive Spirit merchandising: including posters, standees, and an incredible Spirit mask that lets you see special visual effects inworld. Find more information here. Save the date and come to the opening party!
Date: Monday, 2 February
Time: 17:00 Berlin, 11am NYC, 00:00 Singapore
Where: CineStar CUBIX

twinityspirit03Twinity (by Metaversum, the German created virtual world) are a long ways from a mature stable platform, hence being in beta for the past 12 months or so, but are already exhibiting the best ‘world-led’ event-based, user activation. This in my mind is high on the list of reasons for likely success over many of the areas that over-hyped Second Life suffered from in the early days. OK the world is quite big and empty and many ‘social’ tools are not yet available inworld but the kind of activity quoted below (calling for videos, images, stories etc: attached to some well know brands) is great first step community building and more importantly getting a growing community to market for you. Even I had a go at one a few months ago – video embedded below 🙂 BTW Metaversum you really need to improve the video tools (detached camera please!).

Submit Your Artwork and Win! – Take part in The Spirit Screenshot and Machinima Contest and win an exclusive film poster signed by cult film director Frank Miller or The Spirit action figures.
Things Are Looking A Little Different Around Hereos
Wear the mask and see Twinity through the eyes of the Spirit! – Use Twinity’s screenshot and recording tools to create incredible Spirit- inspired images! To be eligible to win the contest, screenshots must be created while wearing the Spirit Mask and its visual effects must be demonstrated in your machinima. Screenshots may be submitted in jpg, png or gif formats.
Sensational Prizes – You have the chance to win sensational The Spirit prizes! Three prizes will be given out to the lucky winners of the Screenshot and Machinima Contest:
* 1st prize: The Spirit action figure and film poster signed by Frank Miller
* 2nd prize: The Spirit film poster signed by Frank Miller
* 3rd prize: The Spirit action figure
To take part in the contest, all you have to do is:

  • Submit your screenshots together with your Twinity name to quest@twinity.com or
  • Upload your movie to a video sharing website, for example “YouTube”, then submit the link to your uploaded video together with your Twinity name to quest@twinity.com
  • Competition deadline: 28 February 2009

We’ll celebrate the winning entries with a Winner’s Gallery party in the CineStar Event Hall! Artwork will be displayed in the CUBIX cinema during The Spirit promotion. Keep an eye on Twinity’s Event Calendar for further details!

Of course I would encourage all TV producers to think about their current audience and whether they want to reach them this way. More importantly you need to think of the appropriateness of creating inworld characters or environments for them to exist in – serious games (from documentaries) and childrens episodics are hot ones at the moment . The real effort is more about having great characters that are persistant in the space but beware of bots or NPC’s (non player characters) pretending to be real, this can have a strong counter productive effect. More later.

Jan 182009
 

3202996043_3a42cea2a0 I don’t know what is in the blogosphere water at the moment but every day for the last 6 months or so we seem to get a new list or top 10/20/25/50. They seem to fall into 1 of 4 categories.

  1. The best of’s – Ordered lists based on some open or secret formula of the good, bad an ugly personalities or online sites.
  2. Great tools/software – Really simple pointers to applications that are going to make your online life easier.
  3. Tips/tricks – A plethora in this category as we all want to list our prioritized strategies for engagement, ROI, KPI, SYF and other acronyms.
  4. Case Studies – we all want to know what is working and who is making Social Media, PR, Marketing etc: work.

I have nothing against lists per se as to many new entrants they are very useful ‘bookmark’ fodder or research or creating ‘Link Juice’ ® and getting ‘linked’ to the top influencers/sites etc: but the reasons they are created follow a rather predictable pattern. First the top ‘anythings’ attract us generally – knowing the best examples in any field will help us ‘enter’ that field. Secondly in a linked online world, all those links out draw the same people to your list to check out ‘where they are’ – they will then often re-blog your list and add endless comments of thanks, what about so and so plus quite a few moaners about ‘how unfair the system is!”.

BTW the picture top right is me just playing with my new Canon 5D MkII (*distant shouts of show off*)

But generally it is, like the Oscars, a virtuous circle – award winning, creates more award potential. For any new Social Media entrant, throw a top 20 list together over breakfast and watch the technorati links come in – even if you don’t really have a clue about anythong on the list your creating! Thirdly being seen creating a list suggests, contrary to point 2, that you know so much about your area you can actually filter, rate and rank ‘all’ the masses of activity in that space. Many lists use a mashup of traditional SEO type ratings (links in/out, longevity etc) but we still need to get to a point where subscribers and more importantly true engagement (how many comments and how much time the ‘auteur’ spends in conversation with his/her readers – Laurel Papworth has just done a comprehensive post No Comments? No Engagement, on this).

DRUM ROLL

So without further ado here is a list of my top (plucks figure out of the air) 25 lists/top ofs/best of’s lists (Social Media, Marketing, Media and some Australian ones thrown in). I have used a special algorithm (roughly if the list has lots of pretty colours and has me in it!) a rating from 0 to 100 and then the associated position. Seriously, it is ranked by me on the science behind the list, how extensive and global and if it looks ‘real’ vs political (sure you know what I mean here). Plus elements of timeliness, if the lists are dynamic or a manual operation every month or so.

But I hope you find it useful,  the list ranking is the number at the end of the first line – *sits back and watches the links & comments come in 🙂 Or have we reached saturation point already!*

1 – The Power 150 Media & Marketing from AdAge 92

Not really 150 but now approaching 1000 blogs/sites, a dynamic list (I like those) based on many of the key web measurements systems (technoratic, google, alexa etc) “The Power 150 is a ranking of the top English-language media and marketing blogs in the world, as developed by marketing executive and blogger, Todd Andrlik.” Also check out MediaHunters blog, he has filtered out Australians on the list (snapshot only).

2 – Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2008 by Tamar Weinberg at Techipedia 91

A fabulously researched list of the best articles (cause that’s what thought provoking longer form posts are) on Social Media & Marketing “In the Internet Marketing Best Posts “series,” I take posts that are typically timeless — they’re not confined to a specific event or news occurrence — they’re valuable for the long haul in terms of Internet Marketing and creative strategy. Hopefully, you’ll see that these posts are still relevant in a few years down the road.”

3 – Top 50 iPhone (jailbroken!) Applications by Doug at Installer Apps 89

There are hundreds of iPhone lists popping up – that look a lot like this one. But this top 50 involved the iPhone modding community in a big way so thumbs up from me! “The list is the top 50 applications for the jailbroken iPhone and iPod Touch. If you’re looking for a top list of ‘official iPhone apps’ then refer to the 2 links at the top of this post. I have taken the data from the iPhone Apps you all have rated. . .tweaked the list a little(adding some apps not listed here). . .and here is the massive list.”

4 – Internet Marketing Top Blogs – The Ultimate Rankings – from Winning the Web 88

Tracking over 300 blogs – IM Top Blogs uses a variety of important metrics when ranking sites on the list: Feedburner, Alexa, Complete Rank, Technorati, Google PageRank, Yahoo, Stumble, delicious, Winning Web links and user votes. These 10 quality factors are weighted according to their importance and then combined in a way to give each blog a relative score in points (out of 1,000). This comprehensive points system is used to accurately rank each blog on the list.

5 – The Twitter Power 150 from A Source of Inspiration 87

Based on a secret TwitterRank algorithm and is a bit of a mashup between AdAge Power150 and Twitterank  “the January 2009 list for the top 150 twitter users with advertising and marketing blogs”

6 – Top 100 Australian Blogs Index – by BigPond (Meg at BlogPond) 85

Although an ‘all areas’ list, I like this one because Meg actually tells you the formula (albeit very few ingredients) – useful if you want to try and game…I mean improve your rating! For now the secret recipe  “The Index can be explained as follows. I have taken three variables – AU = Alexa Rank in Australia, X = Global Alexa Rank, T = Technorati Rank and applied a formula – which is (3 x AU + X + T) /5.”

7 – Top Ranking Social Media Websites by Michelle MacPhearson 84

Probably the only ‘top’ list that has an accompanying video! Michelle has some very practical 101 link building & SEO  tips on her site “These are the top ranking social media websites that you should focus your link building efforts on.”

8 – 50 Best Web 2.0 Travel Tools by Christina Laun 83

There is a bit of a collection growing in this series and they are all pretty good. From Christina on the travel tools “Travel tools on the Web have continued to evolve, taking in all that Web 2.0 has to offer, and enhancing the ability to share information, work creatively and increase collaboration between users and companies”

9 – BIGLIST of Search Marketing Blogs by Top Rank 83

OK not particularly ordered, just a very Top Rank editor’s BIGLIST of SM and marketing blogs, alphabetically. A good resource, but not really a “best of”? – “…a collection of over 400 blogs maintained by the staff at TopRank Online Marketing. This edited list includes blogs that cover a range of internet marketing topics ranging from SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) to blog marketing, marketing with social media and online public relations.”

10 – Top Mobile Social Networks Services & Applications by Laurel Papworth 82

A particularly large growth area. This directory site is a great starter resource for those looking at some of the key applications across the mobile social web. “This is a directory list of all known mobile social networks for cellphone and mobile devices. Well, known to me, Laurel Papworth anyway. I compiled a couple of hundred social network services for the cellphone and mobile devices in mid 2007 for a presentation at WebDirections on Mobile Social Networks. In 2006 ish I was posting on GPSLocationBasedService any gps mobile stuff on social networks I could find. In 2007 I used MyMobilePals. I’m now merging those two sites into this directory list of mobile social networks.”

11 – Second Life in perspective: A round-up of 50 virtual worlds by Dan Taylor 81

One of the best early lists showing how widespread virtual worlds are becoming – and there are a lot in this category also. This list contains lots of useful subscriber information but also has online games. Of course I did my own post and popular Virtual World video list (of sorts) a few months ago here. From Dan “the below round-up of 50 virtual worlds, ranked by approximate user numbers. Gleaned from a wide range of different sources, they are mostly self-reported and cover a multitude of differing definitions. I’ve tried to reconcile the figures wherever possible to try and reflect number of active users rather than number of avatars or visitors to the website, although many will still be way off base.”

12 – 50 Top Niche Social Media Sites, and Their Power Accounts from Kolbrener 78

…below is a list of 50 niche social news sites and their power accounts. You could contact a few power accounts the next time you have a piece of news you want to get out. You could join a small community and become a power account yourself. Or you could just check the list out for a few new interesting sites to visit.

13 – Top 25 Ways to Tell if Your Social Media Expert Is a Carpetbagger from The Buzz Bin 77

As a result, there are many, many companies, agencies and consultants rushing to offer social media services. Unfortunately, they don’t know what they’re doing

14 – 10 of the Best Social Media Tools for PR Professionals and Journalists from Mashable 76

In the ever-evolving world of social media, public relations professionals (PR) and journalists have more opportunities than ever to build strong relationships.

15 – Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs from Junta42 74

Junta42 is a search community site focused on content marketing and custom publishing solutions. If it’s content about content, from blogs to articles to podcasts to videos, you’ll find it here.

16 -Top Social Media Sites by Prelovac 72

Only based on Alexa but a nice long list and nicely coded with column sorting. This is a good exercise in php/Alexa and all about deciding what should be included “This is the comprehensive list of best Social Media and Social Bookmarking sites. I have sorted it by Alexa ranking which roughly represents the popularity of website.”

17 – Top 150 Social Media Marketing Blogs by eCairn 71

Bit of a URL dump but based on one of those ‘secret algorithms’. “We just implemented our “influence ranking algorithm”. So we ran it against the ~1000 ’social media marketing’ blogs we monitor on an ongoing basis (along with tweets, forums, Q&As…) – The influence algorithm used for the ranking is purely link based. Its uniqueness is that we are only counting the links within the dataset of blogs that are part of the community, both blogroll and direct links.”

18 – Australian CEO’s that Twitter by Laurel Papworth 69

Another list only, but given Twitter’s growth and engagement a very important one from a national standpoint. It contains over 40 examples with links to their Twitter accounts. Be interested in other country’s version of this from Laurel ” Want a list of Australian CEOs that are on ? Scroll to the bottom. Business Week have a piece on each CEO that uses the so-called ‘microblogging’ service . I don’t like the term micro-blogging when applied to as it’s less of a one-to-many asynch depth of content site like a video blog or a multimedia blog and more of a few-to-few synchronous chat channel.”

19 – Top 25 Web 2.0 Apps to Grow your Business from Aviva 69

“In this guide we cover the 25 best web2.0 applications for entrepreneurs who are looking for simple, cheap, and effective solutions to solving some of the tasks facing their small business or startup. The 25 applications selected were chosen both on the basis of their usefulness for the individual small business manager as well as their effectiveness in providing community support and networking opportunities for users”

20 – Top 100 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blogs by Julian Cole 68

Really an Australian subset of AdAges Power150 with a Julian  ‘marketing innovation’ ranking element – “The ranking system is very similar to the AdAge Power 150 methodology…I have also added a Pioneer score (10), this is a subjective score which is scored in terms of the blogs ability to have pioneering thoughts about Marketing. I believe it is our role as Marketing bloggers to discover and inform the rest of the industry about the changing Marketing landscape.”

21 – Australia’s Top 50 Twitter Influencers (aka The Twitterati Top 50) from Shifted Pixels 67

There have been a number of lists posted around the blogosphere about the Top 50 Australian bloggers or Top 100 australian marketing blogs etc. As we couldn’t find an equivalent list for twitter – we put together a list of Australia’s most influential Twitterers. This is a draft version for now and im sure we will release a more accurate version soon.

22 – The Top 50 Social Media Blogs Of The Year 2008 from Evan Carmichael 65

Trying to keep on top of the ever-changing world of social media? Whether you are a marketer, developer, technologist, industry insider, or simply a news lover, this is the list for you

23 – 50 of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Social Media from Immediate Influence 64

Based on Alexa and Twitter nominations only “I asked my twitter friends to nominate people who they thought were some of the most powerful and influential women in Social Media. It was no surprise that they quickly and enthusiastically responded with the list of ladies below”

24 – Social Media Case Studies SUPERLIST- 19 Extensive Lists of Organizations Using Social Media from Interactive Insights Group 63

OK getting spooky now, lists within lists within lists…A great way to get ideas for how your organization can use social media is to check out what others are doing. Here are 18 sites below (and one book) that will get you started.

25 – Top 12 Communications, Marketing And Social Media Podcasts from Davefleet.com 61

“If you’re into PR and social media and you’re new to podcasting or are looking for a few new shows to check out, here are my current favourites, in no particular order”

26 – Top 10 WordPress Plugins for Social Media from Traffikd 56

Did I say 25?! Ah well. If you’re a WordPress blogger and you’re looking to use social media to reach more readers, there are plenty plugins to enhance your blog’s optimization for social media. Here are 10 of the best.

So there you go. You made it this far and still conscious. If you have any other great top 10s/20s etc: or other favourite lists please chuck-em into comments for all to see and who knows there may even be an update of this already definitive (hehe) list….

Oct 112008
 

There have been a few lists published in blogs and mags recently attempting to filter out the most reputable marketing and/or media Australian blogs but which one should we pay most attention too, if any?

I was surprised when this (personalizemedia) ‘rather personal’ intermittent blog appeared 9th place on the local Australian Adspace’s list back in June but even more surprised when it charted in the top 250 on the international AdAge Power 150 Marketing and Media list. Things have gotten a little more confusing as there is now another list compiled by BandT marketing magazine, based on AdSpace’s list which itself is based on AdAges.

Julian Cole (AdSpace) has further created an updated second list which is already different from the one published a week earlier in BandT, includes a new metric and also now includes Australians working overseas (vs just those based on these shores). But I am not going to delve into any of the politics but rather wonder what the purpose of these lists are really for? Independent voices promoting themselves, a resource for local Australian companies looking for good social media advice or just plain vanity on the part of those (like me here and now) bleating on about it?

Regardless I have created another list, but this time a direct lift of the top ten Australian ‘registered’ media and marketing blogs on AdAge’s Power 150 – if they are good at marketing then they should be on this list. AdAge has had a consistent nine categories of measurement vs other lists that are in flux. They are:

  1. Todd’s Rank
  2. Yahoo Inbound Links
  3. Technorati Rank
  4. Technorati Inbound Blogs
  5. Technorati Inbound Links
  6. Collective Intellect Rank
  7. Alexa Traffic
  8. Bloglines Subscribers
  9. Google Page Rank

So without further ado these are the top ten Australian media and marketing blogs as at mid Oct 2008 – I include their overall international position to aid reputation assessment internationally.

1. ProBlogger – Darren Rowse

“Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 6

2.Bannerblog – Ashley Ringrose

“Where Banners Click”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 76

3.AcidLabs – Stephen Collins

“Strategies, Tools and Processes to Empower Knowledge Workers”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08):132

4. Servant of Chaos – Gavin Heaton

“There is much to write and much to read … we are essentially living in a world of chaos.”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 133

5. Social Network Marketing – Laurel Papworth

Online Communities & Social Networks are changing the way our society interacts, at a local, Australian & global level. Participatory journalism & user generated content provide us with the mechanism to observe, record & dissect the changes. Marketing & P.R. are changing. Interesting times bring interesting discussions – the DIALOGUE is the CONTENT!

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 137

6. Young PR – Paull Young

“Discussing issues affecting PR Students and New Practitioners”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 147

7. Get Shouty – Katie Chatfield

“This blog is a celebration of: being passionately wrong; being fearlessly right; allowing authenticity to shine; the fold over funny; and, above all, the power of not taking yourself too seriously.”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 207

8. Better Communication Results – Lee Hopkins

“Innovative and passionate communication for innovative and passionate communicators”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 223

9. Personalizemedia – Gary Hayes

“The Digital, Personalized You in Immersive Media Worlds.”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 233

10. Adspace Pioneers – Julian Cole

“Julian Cole”

AdAge Power 150 Position (Oct 08): 305

Sep 282008
 

Have we reached a tipping point – with many more user hours spent with games than films are they now more culturally relevant (as in our cultures are saturated with them)? With most films having ‘game-like’ story arcs and, at the last count, nearly 80 films with stories based on game titles in production I am starting to think so.

Game culture and their inherent stories are now absolutely mass media. In a low risk, and dwindling film business, creating stories around experiences that people have already spent 20-40 hours immersed in the story world, is a no brainer, so what we are seeing is a threshold now of game-like films but more importantly films based on games. Anyway more after the ten minute video – stick with it.

“Playing With Stories” THE CINEMATIC GAME. A Film by GARY HAYES

I am designing curriculum for cinematic games and virtual worlds at AFTRS but also doing another report on the market potential of this cross-media, gilm (game/film) landscape. In the process again I threw together a compilation video of notable examples (I know there are at least ten times this btw!) interspersed with tasty quotations. “The Cinematic Game” was initially designed to be a look at the cross-promotion and story development potential of this most powerful mixed-media marketing machine. But, during the process though I was staggered to see the number of major feature films in production based on new and existing game universes (listed in this post below and scrolling at the end of the video) – suggesting to me a tipping point.

Game story starts to lead film development?

TV and Cinema has already become much more of a background or escapist medium for larger numbers of media consumers. In homes around the world we are spending more time in online pursuits than glued to the content breaks, in-between the advertising slots of traditional TV. We are also immersing ourselves in the social and story ‘exploration’ of the current generation of PC and console games. So how will TV and Film survive in a world where social gaming and associated peer appraisal online is far more compelling? Also given the choice will we continue to passively watch the protagonist or ‘be/live’ the hero? It is interesting to see 8000 employee EA Games now developing major strategies whereby games are made to be easily adapted to comics, books, TV and Film. In the business week article “Morphing Video Games into Movies” they note how EA are trying to emulate small non-game companies have built mini empires on their ‘story IP”

The idea is to repeat the success of companies such as Marvel Entertainment (MVL) and Hasbro (HAS), which used their base of fans to transform from marginal companies into Hollywood players. After licensing Spider-Man to Sony Pictures for a string of hit movies, Marvel has created its own studio, with Iron Man and other films set for release this summer. The Hasbro-backed Transformers movie grossed more than $400 million in 2007 global box-office sales, which in turn boosted company sales of movie-related toys and games.

It is interesting to note that the music industry is also starting to ride the coat tails of the games world. Kotaku reported on a ‘run-in’ between Warner Bros. and Activision about Guitar Hero. Suggesting the music publishers should get more royalties from games that use music, Activision’s boss Bobby Kotick hit back at Warner’s and said the following (which implied as the Kotaku item said ‘Perhaps the record companies should pay us‘)

We’re going to favour those publishers that recognise and appreciate how much we can add value to their artists… in the case of those kinds of products, you should be paying any money at all and whether it should be the reverse.

Back to the main thread of the post, it does make you wonder how many screenplay writers are sitting in front of their XBoxPS3Wii’s looking for inspiration nowadays? Variety suggests that in fact ‘all’ games could be made into movies but I will be really interested in what kind of film comes from The Sims and already know the likely story arc of MassEffect having run through it a couple of times but many others on the list below will be of interest, especially World of Warcraft which has around 4000 story threads/quests – so which story will we be ‘offered’?Films of games have had a shaky past with only a few critical successes such as Tomb Raider, Silent Hill, Resident Evil (there are several on slide 75 of my game/story presentation below, that I did several months ago) but given the serious money and credible directors such as Landau, Lucas, Speilberg, Cameron, Jackson etc: plus a deep desire to properly reflect the integrity of the ‘interactive’ experience, the tide is turning. Being an avid machinima maker I know at first hand what it means to capture the ‘essence’ of game playing, adapt it, reflect it and, if you understand the culture of the game, interpret it – the good thing is A list filmmakers (as you can hear Peter Jackson say at the end of my video) understand it too.

I must again finish with a plug for a couple of unique courses at AFTRS and related to this post an article in one of its blogs RedSet called “What’a film, TV & Radio school doing offering courses in game design and virtual worlds?” makes the relevant point:

“AFTRS new game design and virtual world graduate diplomas will push students to go beyond the generation of clichéd actions and stereotypical characters, students of these new courses will be encouraged to step up and learn how to create meaningful interactive experiences for a variety of platforms informed by the expertise offered in all of the other creative disciplines taught at AFTRS such as directing, screen composition, screenwriting, sound design, production design and more. The field of game design and interactive experiences is equally as collaborative as the world of filmmaking, drawing together diverse specialists who together create the whole – writers, screen composers, programmers, animators, art directors – at AFTRS all of these disciplines are already housed under one roof – with a track record of cross disciplinary interaction and a staggering successful graduates.”

More about my video

A non-exhaustive compilation of story rich games or gamic films including in order of appearance: Contact, Indiana Jones, Heavy Rain, The Game, Burning Crusade, Max Payne, The Matrix, Heavenly Sword, Final Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, Ironman, Call of Duty 4, Simone, Rage, Tron, Bicentennial Man, SpiderMan 3, War of the Worlds, Tomb Raider, I am Alive, WoW Lich King, Indigo Prophesy, Jumanji, Desperate Housewives, Da Vinci Code, The Beach, Assassins Creed, Thomas Crown Affair, CSI, Halo, Resident Evil, James Bond, Sleuth, Afrika, The Godfather, The Cube, Narnia, Time Bandits, The Golden Compass, Half Life, Never Winter Nights, Silent Hill, Hellgate, Beowulf and interviews with George Lucas and Peter Jackson plus quotes from many film directors and games designers

My film contains some of the better hybrids, either films inspired by games, games inspired by films or just very rich cinematic, story or character rich games. I make no excuses that I have used a mixture of cut scenes as well as ‘real’ game play in the video – that is really to show where we are heading as game graphics continues to hurtle towards the real time equivalent of the likes of Beowulf and other ‘trickle’ rendered CG features. After the quotes and textual references from the compilation below, are more elements on this very exiting hybrid cross-story, cross-IP, cross-reality world.

I want gamers to be surprised by their own creativity. I want players to feel not like Luke Skywalker, but George Lucas Will Wright (Sims, Spore)

We’re way beyond the notion of game-as-brand-extending afterthought. Let the virtual world–the vibrant, living world that people inhabit–let that influence the movie. Let it feed back into the process and provide unparalleled riches and depth to what we’re doing
John Landau (Titanic)

Games are already good at creating fear, suspense, excitement, shocked surprise, and laughter. Much rarer are games that create genuine sadness … I have never cried during a videogame
Marc Laidlaw (Half-Life)

I think the real indicator will be when somebody confesses that they cried at level 17
Steven Spielberg

When I found out one of my guildmates had died, someone with whom I had fought monsters, explored exotic lands, shared moments of jubilation and defeat, I wept. In spite of having never met him, the knowledge that we would not continue the story together, brought me great grief.
Laurel Papworth

We had a notion to take the stars of the movies and have them play supportive roles in the video game and tell a story that is a companion story to the movies
Joel Silver (Matrix)

If done well, I don’t believe a videogame itself can detract from a film experience. Ideally, it would be a complement to the film and a way for fans to further involve themselves in a world once they leave the cinema
Peter Jackson, (King Kong, Lord of the Rings)

There are scenes that start in the video game and will complete the movie – ¦and fell like it’s a part and experience of the movie
Joel Silver (Matrix)

Games and MMOs in particular are providing such a sustaining experience that challenges us to make the theatrical experience better
John Landau (Titanic)

The next big emotional breakthrough in gaming is being able to tell a story that is consistent throughout the narrative. If the game is 15 levels, it’s just like 15 chapters in a story
Steven Spielberg

We’re trying to understand the language of the film, but diverge in ways that are right for the game medium.
Neil Young’ EA VP (Lord of the Rings)

Games sometimes can reveal things. To watch someone in movement, unconscious movement, can be very stimulating and revealing, whether they win or not.
John Turturro (actor)

People wonder why games don’t have the same emotional palette as movies. But that’s the wrong way to look at it. It’s like saying, ‘Why isn’t radio like reading a book?’ Games, inherently, have a different emotional palette, which is their strength
Will Wright (Sims, Spore)

Scroll at the end of the compilation:

FILMS BASED ON GAMES IN Development or Production 2008/9 (Wikipedia and IGN source)

Alone in the Dark 2
American McGee’s Alice
Area 51
Battle Royale
Biohazard: Degeneration
BioShock
BloodRayne III: Warhammer
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars
Castlevania
Citizen Siege
City of Heroes
Clock Tower
Cold Fear
Crazy Taxi
Darkwatch
Deus Ex
Devil May Cry
Doom 2
Dragon’s Lair
Driver
Duke Nukem
Earthworm Jim
Eternal Darkness
Eternity’s Child
EverQuest
Far Cry
Fatal Frame
Fear Effect
Gears of War
God of War
Half-Life
Halo
Hunter: The Reckoning
Jagged Alliance
Joust
Kameo
Kane & Lynch
Legend: Hand of God
Lost Planet
Mass Effect
MechWarrior
Metal Gear Solid
Metroid
Mortal Kombat: Devastation
The Neverhood
Nightmare Creatures
Ninja Gold
Onimusha
Pac-Man
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Psi-Ops
Rainbow Six
Resident Evil IV
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Sabotage 1943
Silent Hill 2
The Sims
Siren
Soul Calibur
Sonic the Hedgehog
Spore
Spyro
Spy Hunter
Street Fighter:
The Legend of Spyro
The Sims
The Suffering
The Unforgettable
Tekken
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Tomb Raider III
Warcraft (based on World of Warcraft)
Zombie Massacre

Mixed Reality Futures

As a lead into a post about to be published I have been talking for a couple of years now (The Mixed Reality Perfect Storm ) about the fantastic potential of the live and by implication shared TV experience to be enhanced by extending the world into online games. It is exciting to think where we will be in a few years once the ‘broadcasters & studios’ realise that keeping an audience involved in the ‘IP’/programme in-between airings or sequels is a good thing. Good for the story creators, the latent creative audience and of course advertisers who need eyeballs/hands/ears/minds and hearts.

A further afterthought there are several companies around the world developing Cross-Reality forms, one that I am heavily involved with‚ The Format Factory, are pioneering formats that bridge the space between compelling participatory TV/Film and online game worlds. They have a promotional video that metaphorically demonstrates some of the ’embedded’ world-within-worlds. A trailer video teaser for the mixed reality, inhabited TV formats being pioneered and piloted by The Format Factory.

Other posts on this topic:

12 pages