Mar 312009

A cross-post from the LAMP blog I also run: LAMP mentored ‘Social Media, Multi-Platform’ Drama Scorched won the coveted International Interactive Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences last night at MIP TV. The first time Australia has won this award.

A big congratulations particularly to producers Marcus Gillezeau and Ellenor Cox from Firelight Productions. These awards are held annually at MIP TV in Cannes and celebrate the most innovative drama, documentary, informational and entertainment services delivered on multiple platforms.

iemmy-awardThrough these awards, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is celebrating a significantly growing sector of the television industry and recognize excellence in content created and designed for viewer interaction and/or delivery on a digital platform.

The 2009 Winners.

Fiction category winners “Scorched” Firelight Productions in association with Essential Media & Goalpost Pictures, Australia

Non-fiction category winners “Britain From Above,” BBC / Lion, United Kingdom

Children and young people category winners “Battlefront”, Channel 4, United Kingdom

Brian Seth Hurst (Second Vice Chair at Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and CEO at The Opportunity Management Company) who helps organise these awards sent through this Twitpic of himself (mid left), Chris Hilton from Essential Media and Entertainment (far left), Marcus Gillezeau (mid right) and Mike Cowap (Innovation Head at Screen Australia – far right), at the after awards (30 minutes ago!). Picture from Brian Seth Hurst (actual photographer as yet unknown).


The story has also been covered in The Hollywood Reporter, TVAusCast,  TV Tonight, Digital Media, Campaign Brief, ShowHype and NineMSN

Digital Media magazine has a few ‘delegates’ over there at the moment who are twittering events as they happen you can follow them here. This is how we found out about the award over here from several other tweeters…

  • PipRMB: Aussie digital media company Firelight Prods. have won the first ever International Digital Emmy for best drama for Scorched – huge congrats
  • BrianSethHurst: Winner Fiction Int’l Digital Emmy Award “Scorched” Australia Goalpost Media, Essential Media
  • FanTrust: Check out Scorched which just won a digital Emmy— outstanding fictional drama for 3 screens. Live from #miptv

The Digital Media magazine also featured an article prior to MIP TV referring to LAMP’s involvement in the project –

“Meanwhile the makers of NineMSN cross-platform drama Scorched, Marcus Gillezeau, Ellenor Cox, Michael O’Neill and Brad Hayward, have been nominated for an International Digital Emmy Award. The awards ceremony will be held on March 30 at the MipTV conference. Scorched was financed by Nine Network, ITV International, Screen Australia and the New South Wales Film and Television Office and developed through the Australian Film Television & Radio School’s Laboratory of Advanced Media Production (LAMP), which is Australia’s premier emerging media research and development production lab.”

Other awards winners noted by TV Week

The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences revealed the winners for the International Digital Emmy Awards at the MIP TV opening festivities in Cannes, France.

Australia won its first International Digital Emmy award in the fiction category for “Scorched.”

The non-fiction category went to “Britain From Above,” while “Battlefront” won the children and young people category. Both programs were from the U.K.

Below is a shot of the team with Jackie Turnure (far right – now at Hoodlum) back in May 2006 when they started planning the Social Media elements of the experience on a LAMP residential. There were then several follow up sessions with them to help crystallize their ideas. (Pic Catherine Gleeson)

Scorched has received a great deal of attention and commentary from press and also those closer to the project. This is the LAMP post about the launch, here is Guy Gadney at MIPTV at the moment (then head of PBL New Media, Channel 9) and Gary Hayes (LAMP Director’s personal media blog). It is great news that another LAMP connected project has won the International Emmy’s – examples of earlier ones included Jim Shomos (LAMP mentor) with his Forget the Rules projects, the winner of the Ogilvy Amex award by then LAMP mentor Jackie Turner and other LAMP projects such as The Deep Sleep won development awards too.

xeno_cannes01-ghayesPrevious iiEmmy award winners in related categories have included Canadian Xenophile’s Alternate Reality Doco/Drama Regenesis and Total Drama Island plus fellow Canadian’s Zinc Roe with their Zimmer Twins service (now featured globally).

Link to the Canadian’s winning most awards two years ago here and the image below is of the two teams during the awards taken by Gary Hayes.

Jul 052007

Games Universe 2

“Games are just games aren’t they, all the same thing?”. Wearing my Director of LAMP hat develop and training industry producers (working through the Australian Film TV and Radio School) I come across many traditional producers of media who just don’t ‘get’ games. They look at them through the corner of their eye in that slight crack that has appeared in the ‘mass-market, controlling-author’ blinkers they wear. I am being deliberately confrontational as this is a real and present danger and challenge for the linear TV and Film industry and those purporting to educate for that industry. On one hand they say we make films and TV because it is a mass audience and that means money up front and new media has no proven business models yet when you mention that games are actually as big if not bigger revenue generators they give you a look of “oh yea sure” or “so what, I don’t want to make shoot’em ups for kids”. Ummm. I am not going to make the case here for any side so will leave that to Terra Nova and as regards the games business then have a listen to a podcast I posted on the LAMP site from Luke Carruthers, here.

No this is more about the games universe – that vast range of ‘play’ that constitutes the highly prejudiced word, games. The games universe is big. I am always surprised at growth of the list of latest genre and sub-genre of games particularly across the many online game distribution portals that I am a member of. So I am not going to do a long list of (a) games genre (action adventure etc:), (b) mechanics (first person shooters etc:) or (c) the many game theory taxonomies (sequential, simul, non-zero sum etc:) but something more simple.

AFTRS is about to launch a range of ‘cinematic’ games courses – a particular focus on story, character and narrative. Related to this LAMP ran a seminar last week (which is now podcast – follow the next links) at Museum of Sydney that I called “Living the Story”. Jackie Turnure, a colleague, did a great games film overview and we were lucky last week to also have Deborah Todd over speaking at this event and helping us plan and think about what is going to be good for the games industry but also unique. Deborah wrote a great accessible book on Game Design – From Blue Sky to Green Light. During a brief planning meeting I/we drew up the simple diagram above as an accessible way for non-gamer types to get a sense of the scope of the industry. The diagram attempts to show several things which are all open for comment!

1 The two axes are immersion.
2 The y axis immersion is based on how much is spent on the ‘experience environment’ or the production value. So the better the sound, vision, narrative, characters and mechanic then potentially it will be more immersive – think Shadow of the Collosus on PS2 vs Tetris on a mobile phone.
3 The x axis immersion is based on length of time spent playing. So a quick casual game quiz vs infinite play in virtual worlds and MMOGs – generally! Therefore the more time ‘inworld’ the more immersive
4 The size of the bubble is meant to suggest audience/market size (and is probably the most contentious) so think of this as illustrative, please.
5 Then there are the distribution platforms – locative, PC or dedicated console. This explains why AR Games (alternate reality) have a big foot in locative.

Well it is a first stab. One thing that is obvious is the semantics and naming here. Console games for example refer both to the platform they are on but in the industry also suggest that they are a triple A title – the feature film equivalent of games, delivered on consoles and PCs. Hence that paradox of console games on PC. We also have terms that feel like genre, serious, casual, but again refer to a broad range of sub-categories (in other words you can have a First Person Shooter, Action, Serious Game).

Disclaimer: The above represents my personal views and not that of any employer.

Posted by Gary Hayes © 2007

Apr 192007

A great 3rd day at Milia and a much broader spectrum of issues discussed around the many Milia halls. It started with the world’s most advanced broadband nation with Dr. Hyun-Oh Yoo giving us a rare insight into the worlds most culturally integrated social network – Cyworld in South Korea. This was the first time he had shared some of this information with a European audience (almost dwarfing the impact from and Asian perspective, Peter Li’s IPTV talk later in the day). Fighting through a hay fever Dr. Yoo talked in a gravelly voice about the ubiquitous infrastructure, and how it allows Cyworld to be accessible across the super-broadband fiber pipes and always-on wireless networks. The figures surrounding the service, particularly penetration make MySpace look like a niche activity, well not quite. But here goes:

20 million subscribers
40% of TOTAL population
96% of 20-29 year olds use Cyworld regularly
20 billion monthly page views and 22 mill monthly unique visitors
$300 000 in sales of digital items daily
100 000 video uploads daily
210 million songs sold, currently 6 mill per month


That last figure makes it second only to iTunes for volume of music sales – who says social networks don’t have business models. Dr Yoo also presented a slide that compared the service to some of our more recognisable web 2.0 brands – it is interesting how Second Life is up there with YouTube and flickr, more so as the Cyworld virtual reality is extremely Habbo in style vs true 3D.


A refreshing follow-up to this talk was an uncomfortably titled “The Future of Interactive TV”. Eloquently steered and captained by Brian Seth-Hurst (who is also the key enabler also for the International Interactive Emmy Awards of course– see later) it became apparent that labelling TV services that have an interactive component as Interactive TV is now too limiting and emphasises TV too much – perhaps if the service ‘€˜only’€™ appeared on the one (TV) screen and all interaction took place there fine, but these are really in the minority and most are via mobile sms, telephony, stretched out across many platforms (TV is a part of the mix) or synchronised with online. There were some great new kid on the block examples of iTV and ones that started to merge media . Kim Lindholm from Motion Avenue in Finland showed something on the edge of my “mixed reality” continuum (a soon to be published post) a game/quiz show from Vietnam that has viewers appear as avatars in a virtual audience who get knocked out if they get answers wrong – of course the audience pays per question. He was followed by the grandfather of iTV Robert Chua who presented a more philosophical view of iTV. He questioned the definition of iTV as a relevant term when the same type of services are controlled by or fed to PC, mobile and TV via broadband pipes. The second panel in this session looked at enablers like Microsoft and OpenTV who themselves appear to be struggling with the melding of broadcast and broadband, games and linear.

Then a day of pitching started. Top and tailed by commercial entities that sandwiched a swathe of public service BBC 360 panels. My LAMP friend and colleague Jackie Turnure was pitching in the most defined session being Cross-Platform Brand Marketing. The three propositions trying to fulful a tight brief from Ogilvy and American Express were in brief terms, 1) an amazing race clone, 2) a chroma key ‘card ride’ and 3) an Alternate Reality Game. Without showing any bias I personally thought the ARG from Jackie the much stronger in terms of reach and originality but more importantly having a story (we shall see tomorrow who won).


These and many of the pitches that followed from the BBC panels seemed very light on narrative and most were function over form, without clearly defined structure or focus. There is a sense that many ad agencies and traditional broadcasters (as I said in the last post) are seeing Emerged Media as a way to allow users to participate, sometimes I feel to the detriment of the actual integrity of the proposition. We may be creating too many empty shells for viewers to fill without really drawing them in first with a great story. Frank Boyd again led key BBC folk though some less than enticing pitches. I thought the first two panels one on 360 docs and the second on 360 participation actually seemed interchangeable. All the doc props involved viewer input and the community ones were themed around documentary topics like the environment. So more blurring of labels as form, function and genre meld.


By the afternoon I was suffering from conference fatique, that moment when panels and panellists start to blur into one another. Luckily the IPTV vs Internet TV was a great idea and Justin Hewlett and others showed off a great cross section of the new walled garden TV, data and telephony services. After a while though all the badly designed interfaces started to blur into each other too. It became apparent in these sessions that penetration for many pockets of services around the world in the 50-100 thousand audience range is still very low and not significant due to two key things:

1 You can get most of the IPTV offerings via traditional TV distribution channels, so nothing really new to entice viewers (it was cited that 50% of subs were actually for the telephony and data elements and not the TV!)
2 The topic of the panel, the wild west internet is now delivering a much broader and compelling range of audio, video content.

The panel topic echoed a talk I gave to an IPTV ‘hyped’ audience in Sydney nearly two years ago (and cited on a few IPTV info sites) – the main premise being, the cats out of the bag, Internet TV (or broadband TV as I called it), the wild west way to get your TV morsels means IPTV may only have another 12 months or so to deliver on its promise, or be gone for good. As mentioned earlier I found Peter Li, the VP from BesTV in China illuminating if only for the stats he presented as context to IPTV potential in China.

CNNIC report for China July 2006 Internet users 130m. 40% growth for past 6 years Broadband users 80m Youth: 18.5 hrs/wek online vs 6.7 hrs/wk on TV Over 220 online video portals, 500 000 clips uploaded daily Concurrancy of viewers watching video online 500 000. ADSL 2.0+ goes to over 10 million users

The keynote of the day, after I managed to rush out and get my glad rags from the dry cleaners, was Jana Bennett and Ashley Highfield. I would like to give this more time and the awards so will leave that until the next post. For now though a taster shot of the BBC keynoters.


I was lucky to be a judge again at the Interactive International Emmy Awards and invited to the splendid evening session at the Carlton Ballroom. Only three awards up for grabs (and a special prize this year to BskyB -€“ well done). The event was excellently organised in the tradition of all the A-list ceremonies and I was lucky to be on one of the front tables, with the interactive programme folk. Also managed to grab a chat with Phil Rosedale who leads Linden Lab (Second Life) in the pre-award cocktails, which was a treat for me 😉


To the awards. Great to see the BBC finally win for their BBCi all emcompassing eTV and 24/7 service (I remember the days when it was called Digital Text – but wont go there now!). Great to see my old cohorts Nick Cohen and Phil Jay with big grins on their faces for the rest of the evening. Canada took the second award, Interactive Channel, for BITE Television a slightly anarchistic, irrelevant channel. The most exciting award of the evening though for me was the interactive programme award and I was siting between two of the nominees on a distinctly Canadian table 8. Three of the four nominees were Canadian! But I had Aaron from the Zimmer Twins on one side and Patrick Crowe from Regenesis on the other (Zinc Roe Design and Xenophile respective companies) – and it was a surprise to all, that they both won! Yes a two-way tie and a table creaking later with the weight of two Emmys 😉 As one would expect both teams were delighted and it was wonderful both for Canada (and the Bell fund that partly helped Regenesis) but also for the interactive form as both services are innovative and pushing the envelope. But will write more later (congrats to Evan Jones and Tony Walsh also who were major parts of Regensis) – for now a picture I took of the double winners. A busy and even more exciting day tomorrow (well actually today now as I finish this).

© Gary Hayes 2007

Jun 022006

…and the never changing human.

Senor Hontar: “We must work in the world. The world is thus.”
Father Altamirano: “No Senor Hontar…thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it”
Final lines of the film ‘The Mission’

There have been several events this week that have focused my attention on the nature of immersion. Within AFTRS and LAMP I have been giving presentations to traditional storytellers and filmmakers about cross-media alternatives to the linear ‘tale’. I have also been preparing to chair the Mobile Content World Australasia next week while today I saw a great presentation from Philip Brophy on “Sexual Robots and Plastic Humans in Anime” – and I have been getting further into the rabbit holes of Second Life (SL) and World of Warcraft (WoW). Now this combination of things has drawn me into trying to answer the age old question of “What defines an immersive service”, why do some experiences keep people hooked until the wee hours, why is TV, particularly getting a bad rap, why films in cinema have a level of ‘temporal’ engagement and why games (especially Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games MMORPGs) keep you entranced. This post may turn into the usual stream of conciousness – but hey thats the wonderful world of blogs. Lets look at some stats before I go any further.

There is a great post from the Daedalus Project in January that has some startling statistics from a sample of 2000 people using mass social network services (and role playing games specifically) and who ‘used’ to watch TV. To sum up, across the board they spend more than 3 times in connected games environments than they do watching TV.

Looking at the chart above (linked from the Daedalus site) we can see across a wide demographic that TV is becoming a ‘nice to have’. Here is an excerpt off the post:

MMORPG gamers spend on average 21.0 hours per week playing the game, and spend on average 7.7 hours per week watching TV. The national average for TV watching per week is around 28 – In other words time that was spent watching TV has been displaced by MMORPG playing. Of interest is the spike in play-time among female players over the age of 35.

Research from many other areas also show that TV is becoming more and more an ambient media type. That radio and now TV are things to have on in the background while you do more engaging things. Here are a three comments from this post again that illustrate this…

I can absolutely confirm your findings. I watch almost no TV anymore since I started playing MMORPGs. TV is pretty much a solo activity, while (at least for me) playing a MMORPG has a large social aspect.

I have the TV on while I play the game. Just as backround noise, otherwise I go nuts. I included time the TV was on as ‘watching TV’ when I took the survey… because I do, rather. I just don’t pay as much attention to it as I usually do… and, it could easilly be replaced with a few good music albums. :shrug:

I’ve noticed a trend with my online friends and myself. We’ve moved a tv into the computer room. Most of the people I play with are male between the ages of 18-40 but still tend to watch ‘cartoon’ or ‘anime’ while playing. We also use voice over ip while playing and comment on the shows while playing.

That last comment about anime leads nicely onto the talk today but first it also shows how TV has become only a small part of a simultaneous mix of media and also against the more immersive media has been relegated to “background noise”, something you put on to fill in the gaps, or perhaps surprise (see later). Why is this? I believe it is the formulaic and mature nature of TV. There is very little truly original or out of the ordinary. TV has become stuck in the thing that once elevated it – the schedule. With a constant cycle of news, ads, reality, soaps, quizzes, murder mystery, etc etc: there is nothing new for younger audiences who are making their own drama on other platforms. Now people make their minds up in 0.2 seconds about a website and what it represents, the same way that young people scan across thousands of TV channels – making their minds up quickly about ‘what it is about’, they are simply speed reading formulaic production. Even broadcast interactive TV (something I was part responsible for creating) is a thin veneer of interactivity that occassionally engaged but only for the small windows of time it was on. Now of course scheduled TV is being diced and sliced and made available in bite size proportions on on-demand mobile and broadband platforms. Anyway back to experiences on the rise and more about immersion from an escapist viewpoint.

This has no alt to stop low life traffic!Philip Brophy came into AFTRS today and presented an interesting talk called “Sexual Robots and Plastic Humans in Anime”. I am not going to talk in detail about this but highlight a couple of things. He talked about some of the real cultural differences between the country that creates most of the games in the world, Japan, and those who consume it, the West. Something that resonated with me was that the Japanese psyche is all about cosmological connection, that everything is inter-linked and the fantasy that can spring from that leads naturally to forms such as Anime and a game producing culture. Whereas in the spiritually ‘vacuous’ West the perspective on these games are about monetization, escapism and losing the spiritual subtlety inherent in them.

I asked him why the Japanese are less into MMORPGs then, than other parts of the world and he replied that there is a strong belief that the relationship with avatorial representation (online or not) is as relevant in the physical space (they dress up as anime type characters) as it is in the virtual space – in fact if they want to personally represent characters they prefer the physical space. Identity is amorphous in Japan, a tree, cat, plant, human are all relevant and interchangeable – very fantasy RPG. The Western (mostly US) attitude to MMORPGs in that it is often about creating, playing in and generating a new world, a frontier, a land grab with associated, rampant capitalism. That is certainly true of Second Life which at times feels like the Wild West – perhaps a replacement for the real world that is oh so over populated and where Western culture can live out its dreams – for a fee. The key point about immersion here is that the Japanese have an existing ‘storyworld’, deep connection or grammar that permeates the anime form and is passed from film to film, game to game. The games they create naturally continue this narrative continuum and these experiences are enticing to western audiences who are after spiritual fulfillment as much as game play.

US flag in SL As an example of how the ‘west’ tends to corrupt what are potentially wonderful sandboxes of how we may evolve as a species (who knows one day on other bits of rock in space;) here are a couple of very recent experiences in Second Life (see previous posts on ARGs and Personalization in SL) – and the associated ‘agency’ or engagement that goes with it. The first is nationalism and bringing the old world into the new. One of my houses is on a hill. Someone, ‘presumably’ from the US, has bought some land next to it and immediately erected the American Flag. OK this may not be as bad as a nuclear power station or a skyscraper that others have had to endure, but why on earth would you want to flaunt real world nationlism in a borderless, country-less virtual, nirvana type world. I have politely requested they reconsider their motives of course. Anya, a neighbour, had another land issue, this time more about land access and neolithic, militant attitude. You can follow this on her post – Outrageous Militia Style Behaviour. The point here is that in social networks things can become very personal – when you have ‘space’ of your own that is impacted by and impacts those around it. This resonance is key to immersion.
In reference to environment in Second Life there are endless real world representations – everything from fantasy islands to recreations of real cities but mostly endless malls. Yes like ‘anytown’ America large buildings lined up on grids selling the same stuff you get in the real world. In World of Warcraft I have experienced a great deal of pack animal activity, which is actually part of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ type of narrative in that world – but I do find it less compelling for reasons above (the west mis-reading of the fantasy genre) and my points in a previous post.

Virtual MallAre we cheating on ourselves and playing it safe. Adopting the same old attitudes, following formula yet again, regardless of the potential of these open environments? I believe most humans are indeed afraid to break the mould and be different, they need to be guided by narrative, to have clearly identifiable characters in films and role play games. Given unlimited possibility or something remotely familiar most of us will go for the latter. There is also a point about identity that is worth mentioning – the differences between a true Role Play Game vs something that is more improvised or free form vs something formulaic. Being able to represent yourself ‘in’ the medium (which is why so many people still want to get on TV) obviously goes back to our evolution – trying to be accepted by our peers, the tribe/pack (now by showing off in virtual spaces or on a quiz show) through to our persona being resonant in the experience. Virtual worlds that allow a Japanese style, connection to any living form is actually part ‘of’ our evolution. This could get deep here but I will stay in shallow waters and just say – being able to personalize yourself and your environment and not be fixed a playing a wizard, a character or ‘being’ a quiz contestant is highly empowering. Empowerment is critical to immersion.


So why are these ‘new worlds’ becoming so addictive to many millions? Why is staring at a screen becoming a turn-off? Why are mobile devices never going to be the one and only device through which any kind of immersion takes place? What ‘are’ the ingredients of immersion. Here are eight key ones that quickly spring to mind to aid ‘experience’ producers and offer an alternative approach to service creation. These are non-exhaustive and echo the above ramble:

1 SCALE – of the experience. The size of the screen and the amount of story world to explore has enormous impacts on immersion – as well as the detail of individual objects within the ‘world’. This is why when I have been recently looking at mobile content, the only ones that stand out are services that connect people, that create something larger than the isolated thing in your hand, the pawltry representation of you. Mobile has to involved sharing content, telling stories and using physical space – sounds like the Japanese psyche again! One of the reasons cinema will exist for a long time is that the large dark room filled with people is a captivating environment. Now, imagine a cinema where the image is a locked off-shot, of a shared world and all the audience are controlling and representing different characters engaged in a common goal or story. Ummm.

2 SENSES – goes without sayiing that the amount of senses that are engaged by an experience gives it most potential to immerse. Now as I have said before we dont need to consider full immersive reality rather make sure as well as intellectual and emotional engagement you consider sounds and the grammar of visual. Probably forget about touch, taste or smell for the moment – leave that to the porn industry to work out.

3 SERENDIPITY – how the world or show you are watching has elements of surprise. As mentioned earlier the more scripted and formulaic the less immersive. People only watch a film for the fifteenth time, I believe, because they strangely hope that there may be something different OR they are peeling back the layers, looking at minute detail and looking way beyond the basic narrative. Something like Second Life has the potential to be very serendipitous, other role plays less so, an unspoilt new film at the cinema can surprise, sadly TV and pop-music are at the other end of the scale.

4 STORY – does the narrative engage. This is obvious, if there is nothing for you to be drawn along by (even your own story in some cases) then you will switch off. What makes the story compelling, what makes it extraordinary, fantastical or deeply and emotionally resonant?

5 PERSONALIZATION – Hence the title of this blog. How much can you minutely affect the world and yourself in it? How much will the world reflect you for being there? Most importantly, how much of your real world personality can you bring with you into the experience. In a TV show that has SMS vote in you can steer it very, very bluntly. Some shows allow you to put personal content into them for all your peers to see, some virtual worlds allow you to move the ornament on the shelf 3mm to the left or turn it into an ocean, blogs allow you to broadcast your views to potentially millions. It is all about making the world feel like you belong.

6 RESONANCE/CHOICE – How much control or agency do you have over the experience? Are your actions permanent and seen by all? Can you really do and say what you want – freedom of choice. True resonance is like a virtuous circle, you do something and there is a response that forever changes the environment. Like real life. The pushed media of TV, radio, cinema has zero resonance, it all happens in your head. Which is why stories ‘have’ to be based on life’s shared drama. In truly interactive models your actions have impact and will reaction will take place.

7 TEMPORALITY – How real time does the experience feel? Scheduled TV never feels real time – the only successful shows in the future will be live events, music, sports, live news etc: Everything else has a dubious future in the scheduled world. MMORPGs feel real time when you are in them because of all of the above. Ones that have scheduled events or require you to invade or fight at a certain time are more about story than true immersion. I could go to second life now and stand still for two hours on a beach somewhere – or I could find some friends to talk to, take part in a game, or go clubbing, explore, or build a house. Each of these is also about choice taking place when you want them to. If you decide to do things as a couple or a group then obviously – like real life – compromises temporally will have to take place.


8 ESCAPISM – or ‘play’. This goes back to my earlier point about the reason for play and associated spirituality. Why do adult females around 35 (to choose an example demographic from the earlier stats) want to play in MMORPGs? Is it as much about escaping reality or constructing ideality? Does the representational nature of these worlds mean so much more subconciously than endless souless advertisements on TV, or another episode of a soap, or fomulaic hollywood film? Does selecting an identity that is impossible to achieve in real life become a most powerful addictive escape? I suspect all of the above. In terms of building ‘play’ – it should be as fun making it as doing it. I have mentioned before that sometimes authors of experience get so lost in the creation process they forget someone has to watch, play or take part in it! Then it is much weaker an experience. Today the experience author has to create tools for play, rather than fixed media and fixed routes through it. Randomness can go someway there – but for true immersion through play, think of how much the imagination can run wild with a piece of paper and some crayons, whereas the latest ‘limited’ electronic gadget ends up on the shelf after and hour.

Which reminds me – my blog time limit of one hour writing is up. Yes I am strict with myself. I will add some more if I get time. But for now I will leave you with the tip – gauge your own levels of immersion as you do different things and work out why you are so. That isn’t easy but no one ever said it would be.

“…thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it”

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006