Gary scratches his head – photo by Rosemary Keevil
I was invited to keynote at the 2013 Merging Media conference in Vancouver last week and it was great to meet up with the wandering band of transmedia/multiplatform ‘global gliterati’ that frequent these events. All in all a top notch affair, well attended, mostly on the ball in terms of topics and refreshing to take in the effervescent youthful passion that abounded from the attendees.
My next post will be detailed coverage some of the themes of my presentation but what follows below is something I sneaked into my talk last minute – partly as a response to some of the previous speakers on day 1 and the ‘challenges’ that still pervade this fledgling industry, still, after all these years.
The ‘digital’ brochure-ware website/mobile-app industry is doing fine and dandy – quaint silos inside traditional broadcasters, studios and ad agencies make ‘broadcast interactive’ stuff that is proven standard fare for large sections of the mostly passive audience – but where are the truly original and/or mature multi platform transmedia services and how will we get there? I then thought of a series of scales on which to gauge and see if we can really get a sense of the State of Play in ‘whatever’ we will finally agree to call this thing.
I presented this section partly interactively (well the sort of magician like interactivity we all sometimes despise) – I asked the audience to shout out where we think we are on the scale and then I pressed the magic button and the needle floated across ala an interactive worm (in fact of course these were all my already set valuations – but anyway most of the time it was within 1 or 2 points!). I did tell the audience by the way, although they probably sussed it after the 2nd or 3rd one 🙂
So the State of Play of the Multiplatform / Transmedia Industry across 10 scales of measurement
Language and Grammar – Tower of Babel or Industry Shared – 3/10 – It is critical everyone is singing off the same song sheet for it to be a mature industry, how else can we create a business on something if it is not a shared terminology? Imagine if for example in film we called the editing stage either the compile, the chop, the edit, the merge, etc: depending on who was producing or which country we were in. Chaos. But as we know in multi platform circles, we don’t have to look far to see the cracks – not only are the transmedia folk stretched from arty fluffiness at one of the spectrum to hard core marketing at the other but there is still across the industry (& academia) no real agreement on what the ‘T’ word actually means. Then on the ‘serious digital production’ side of the fence, whole swathes of the industry who do bare bones digital ‘cloning’, nothing new, just pure turning the app/site production handle. Every sector from academia to agency to studio to broadcaster all use different terms. 3 out of 10 suggests we have at least another 10-15 years before we settle down into a shared taxonomy – lets hope it is sooner.
Seem to be in list/research mode at the moment and was looking for one place on the web that had a list of stats about the mix of male and females across the ‘game/virtual world’ space. I have actually found it useful to highlight many of the type of stats to clients who still believe console games, online ‘quest’ based games and virtual worlds are still the domain of twenty something, slightly overweight, couch potato, anti-social males. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read on, and in no particular order!
note: Cross-posted on MUVEDesign (my virtual world build site).
PDF report by Pew Internet. “Adults and Video Games”
More than half – 53% – of all American adults play video games of some kind
Independent of all other factors, younger adults are still more likely to play games.
Among older adults 65+ who play video games, nearly a third play games everyday, a significantly larger percentage than all younger players, of whom about 20% play everyday.
Gaming consoles are the most popular for young adults: 75% of 18-29 year old gamers play on consoles, compared with 68% who use computers
Computers are the most popular among the total adult gaming population, with 73% of adult gamers using computers to play games, compared with 53% console users, 35% who using cell phones, and 25% using portable gaming devices.
The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 13 years.
The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 40 years old.
Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).
In 2008, 26 percent of Americans over the age of 50 played video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999
Sixty-three percent of parents believe games are a positive part of their childrenâ€™s lives.
The “couch potato” image of computer gamers is unfounded, with many in better than average shape, claim US researchers.
More than 7,000 players of the online game EverQuest II were quizzed about their health by scientists.
They found gamers’ body mass index (BMI) tended to be lower than the US average – with many taking “proper” exercise more than once a week.
Driving Force in Video Gaming: Women and Baby Boomers. Reported on PC World Aug 2008. IBISWorld claims that:
38 percent of US gamers are women
The average player is 35 years old
24 percent are over 50.
The percentage of female video gamers climbed from 33 to 38 percent in five years bolstered in part by Nintendo’s Wii, but also “interactive group games” such as Singstar, Rock Band, and Lips, as well as The Sims, The Movies, Nintendogs and NeoPets.
Consumer Electronics Association study found that 65 percent of women in the 25-34 age bracket play video games, while only 35 percent of men in that group said that they play video games. The key factor involved with these findings is the increasing popularity of casual games, especially among women. (These casual titles are typically found on web portals like Yahoo!, AOL Games, PopCap Games, EA’s Pogo.com and elsewhere.)
Women were found to be slightly less likely than men in the 25-34 bracket to play traditional console games on systems like PlayStation or Xbox.
Old (2000) but interesting item on ‘gender bending’ in games from womengamers.com
6% of subjects play female characters for 25% or less of their gaming time
Another selection of my items cross-posted from another of my original blogs, lamp watercooler.
The Ulitmate Mashup Launches – Sport, MMOG & Social Virtual World – 16 Oct 08
Football Superstars is the world’s first Virtual Football World. An entire online virtual world designed by football fans exclusively for football fans, where you can enjoy a massively multiplayer experience on your PC.
A service that I have been keeping an eye on because of it’s skill in combining passionate sporting fan behaviour with sticky gaming and persistent virtual worlds is Football Superstars. As well as the EA sports game type component there is the ubiquitous inworld micro-economy, buying virtual sporting goods ala Second Life and it has enormous potential for advergaming, cross branding, sponsorship and of course cross-reality (real footy alongside virtual – and combined leader boards etc:). I was one of the ones on the beta group and a few days after launch, there are 3000 registering every day with 100 000 already using it. This has been in the planning stages for 4 years and the team of 80 developers are about to make a big splash methinks! From the UK Telegraph
Football Superstars is a cross between Second Life, the virtual world game, and traditional football games such as Championship Manager and the Fifa football series.
Players can download the game and develop their football skills before participating in full 11-a-side games and, if they become sufficiently skilled, being picked for representative games and eventually international tournaments.
Off the pitch, players will be able to socialise and spend their wages in a virtual world of restaurants, bars, clubs and shops.
The Nottingham-based startup, has invested more than Â£5m over two years in creating Football Superstars with a team of 80 programmers.
Although the game is free to play, players will also be encouraged to spend real money on virtual clothes, boots and cars.
All the players on the pitch will be controlled by real players and they will be able to call to one another in real time using headsets and using 3D sound technology.
An unlimited number will be able to play at any one time.
The game will be another addition to the profitable Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) market. World of Warcraft, a fantasy virtual game, is the most popular and has almost 11 million paying players worldwide.
More than 100,000 people have registered and the company yesterday claimed that new registrations were running at more than 3,000 a day.
Games such as FIFA 09, produced by Electronic Arts, have recently introduced online elements that allow players on opposite sides of the world to compete against one another.
iPhone as Serious Musical Instrument? – 7 Nov 2008
There have been a few iPhone apps that suggest where things are heading, not necessarily with the iPhone as musical instrument (it is still a small toy) but with musical instruments of the future. The multi touch, inertia driven interface at larger scale is going to be very interesting as well as the proximity and connected element to those around you. I have been using toys like the realistic guitar and various drum machines and percussion effects for over a year now, but do like the new crop of instruments such as the free uFlute and the Ocarina from Smule. The video below shows the ocarina being used in ensemble mode, I am still learning the key combinations to get a decent range on it, but it is starting to feel, musical! Back to my ‘non virtual’ harp, soprano sax, guitars, aftertouch keyboard midi controllers, clarinet etc: yes the real ones!
I must say though one of the fantastic features of Ocarina though is the global view ‘lurk’ mode. When I activated this it started to feel a little like the opening of the film contact – a distant globe rotates and around it hovers music from individual players (in countries around the world) who are using the Ocarina in real time, and given the dreamy, reverberant sound it began to feel like humanities call out into the void…quite special. The video I did above captures a sense of it and it reminds me forcibly of Twittervision and the like.
Ocarina is the first true musical instrument created for the iPhone. Both experts and beginners will be amazed by this innovative player. Ocarina is sensitive to your breath, touch and movements, making it even more versatile than the original. Unlike other musical applications, there are no pre-compiled riffs so musicians will find unlimited opportunities for self-expression. Advanced options allow you to choose between diatonic, minor and harmonic scales. Or channel your favorite video game adventurer with Smule’s Zeldarian mode.
Also, like most Smule products, Ocarina is a social application. Tap on the globe icon and you will see and hear other Ocarina players throughout the world. The globe view will highlight the source of the music. Rate your favorite performances so that others may benefit from your judgment. Name your Ocarina if you want listeners around the world to identify your performances. With this robust application beautiful music is created, appreciated and shared.
Japanese Street Ads Detect You – 26 Oct 2008
A bit Minority Report Advertising beta 0.9a – Using motion detection on the street in Tokyo to advertise a Swedish Reality TV program called Big in Japan. I love the idea that your motion past a full length ad hoarding causes the image to come to life (well it starts flashing cameras and makes you the star) but that incessant screaming – please! No! It wasn’t clear if actual pictures are taken of the unsuspecting pedestrians, but heh it doesn’t really matter – they were famous for 5 seconds at the local bus shelter.
These billboards are equipped with motion detectors and speakers. As people go by they set off crazy japanese fans, cheering and taking pictures of them.
Ad supported A-list Web Programming at NBC – 9 Oct 2008
NBC have taken a bold step in making it clear that it is ramping up quality programming exclusively for the web reported by AdAge. Although the episodes are in the 4-5 minute range they will have high production values as if made for prime time TV. The whole initiative is seeking key advertisers to be there at the outset to fund some of the costs. From the article…
Brent Weinstein, CEO of 60 Frames Entertainment, said having more big-name talent attached to more web-based projects has enhanced the appeal of these shows to advertisers. “Given the choice between really good content and really bad or average content, more often than not, consumers are choosing the good. And advertisers are learning it’s a more important way to reach their intended consumers,” he said. Added Mr. Death ( VP, NBC Universal Digital Studio): “Perhaps 12 months ago, A-list talent wouldn’t jump into anything in terms of a web series. But now it’s OK, and in fact they’re coming to us with ideas and projects.”
and it seems like they are attracting big names in heritage media circles pulling top script writers into this new medium which can only be a good thing as in truth the further we move from wannabees or web designers writing stories for the web the better – now onto games 🙂
But unlike a lot of web-based TV shows, NBC.com’s offerings use name actors and TV-quality production values. The lineup, co-produced with 60 Frames Entertainment, includes everything from reality competition series to scripted dramas from high-profile writers such as “The Bourne Ultimatum” scribe Scott Burns (comedic drama “Love at First Sight & Other Dangers”) “Oz” creator Tom Fontana (crime drama “Men With Guns: The Assassins”) and “Big Fish” screenwriter John August (quirky comedy “The Remnants”).
LOST Extends Virtually into Second Life – 24 Sept 2008
There have been a few TV shows that have offered new and immersive experiences into collaborative virtual worlds notably MTV with Laguna Beach, The Hills, Pimp My Ride and others into There.com as well as CSI and BigBrother (that I wrote about 2 years ago) into Second Life – and lots more. The latest entrant looks far more suited as a match for Second Life, as it more naturally reflects the story environment – being a rather deserted, desert island.
As it says in the video about this more experiential extension to LOST – “explore the island by yourself” – “or with other fans” – “find secret places” – “live like a lostie” – “or help the dharma initiative” etc etc: Couldn’t see a lot of story in this build so I suspect created by a small peripheral team?
(Disclaimer: Writing this from a noisy, smokey opening party at the Martinez Hotel on the Croisette in Cannes)…I am currently taking in the wonders of another Milia in Cannes in the South of France on behalf of LAMP @ AFTRS. There is a great line up of speakers, organised again by my old friend Ferhan Cook, who I touched base with earlier today. I will be blogging, as last year, of significant events or activities but mostly focusing on the twenty plus great seminars. Already the climate here on the first day has been one of a mature acceptance of the deep changes going on in the TV industry to the extent that TV is now only a part of the media mix – remember Milia is paired with Mip (which used to be called MipTV). One announcement that caught my eye today was the recent teaming up of Endemol and EA on a service called Virtual Me…
CANNES, FRANCE, – April 16, 2007 Ã¢Â€Â“ Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS), the worldÃ¢Â€Â™s leading interactive entertainment software company, and the Endemol group, a global leader in television and other audiovisual entertainment, today announced a creative partnership for the development of Virtual Me, a new digital entertainment concept that bridges the divide between traditional TV and videogames. The all-new online offering is being prepared to debut in EndemolÃ¢Â€Â™s top-rated Big Brother.
I actually stumbled across this not through the official channels of Milia press releases on the ground (although it was mentioned at a session later on the first day) but at a blog called “Brand Strategy” that actually references a sticky post I did called “Witnessing the Birth of an Entertainment Form” on the Virtual Big Brother from many moons ago. I hope to catch up with some Endemol folk on Thursday as we will be graced by Phil Rosedale of Linden Lab and a host of other Second Life developers in a group of sessions about brands and marketing in the metaverse. Of course I am mentioning The Project Factory to folk and some of the great ‘mixed reality’ projects we have done at LAMP to key people who are now warming to the idea of these cross-over reality, virtual world formats.
It seems though that Endemols experiment with Big Brother has been noted and it is now moving forward apace with the metaverse. The 3D web will be therefore quite likely be more swamped with TV forms and brands rather than advertising in its crudest incarnation. There is something rather obvious in the evolution implied by this statement (and indeed in many from my posts of the previous months)
Want to be a pop star? A movie star? An action star? Virtual Me offers players the chance to participate in virtual versions of TV talent shows like Fame Academy and Operacion Triunfo, game shows like Deal Or No Deal and 1 vs 100 and to form real relationships with other virtual avatars on the web.
I will be writing a daily update of events at Milia a day behind with pictures but for now a glass of champagne and getting away from the cigar smoke is the order of the evening!