Jul 022011
 

I presented at the end of the inaugural GameTech conference last week before a panel looking beyond console, revenue streams & individual game formats and looking at games breaking out into real space and becoming 24/7 – my talk was entitled

“Pervasive Entertainment – Games, Film, Physical, Print & TV merged with social networks”.

“Pervasive entertainment – entertainment that is all around you, 24 hours a day, persistent – probably location based – possibly merged with real world – driven by devices that are mobile, always on & location aware?” G Hayes

It was great to see industry heads gathered at the beginning of the conference such as this State of Industry panel twitpic I took featuring the Australasian heads of Ubisoft, EAGames, Sony and Microsoft.

Panel photolp, Ubisoft, EAGames, Sony, Microsoft heads at Gam... on Twitpic

As well as a government endorsement introduction from Brendan O’Connor, the Australian Minister for Home Affairs & Digital Culture who talked briefly about games as portable, ubiquitous & networked – yay!  He also talked about the R rating for Australia on the way which is a big relief for games distributors!

But my talk later was a broad brushstrokes whirlwind tour at the exiting period we are entering where the promise of ‘technology based’ pervasive entertainment for the last decade or two is getting very close. Another perfect storm as locative play intersperses with augmented reality, where socially produced media becomes embedded into real time broadcast networks and where game is truly dispersed across multiple platforms.

Here is the basic structure of the prez:

  1. What is Pervasive Entertainment / Gaming
  2. What is Multi Platform / Transmedia in a Gaming Context
  3. Games spilling into the real world Evolution of Experiential AR
  4. Business Models of Pervasive AR Entertainment
  5. Futures and Takeaways

The presentation is embedded below but before I launched into the definitions & case studies I asked the game industry audience –

“Who is the games industry? As all aspects of our lives become ‘gamified’ such as shopping, travel, social life, locations & TV/Film, has the games industry lost the initiative by allowing marketeers, AR & transmedia companies, ad agencies, film & TV producers to create & monetize these new pervasive forms of entertainment?” Gary Hayes – GameTech 2011 Sydney

It was too late in the conference for this to be tackled or even mean anything to those locked into AAA console title production line or part of an incumbent traditional media machine. Earlier in the conference there was a sense that if the game is not commoditized (delivered in a nice box on the shelf of the local games store) then it is outside the industry boundaries and therefore let those companies involved in more distributed, transmedia games fight over the scraps. Full slide show follows

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Aug 052010
 

…than Agencies and Filmmakers. Why do transmedia professionals have a difficult time achieving authentic and fluid transmedia stories and why do ‘existing’ branded entertainment & digital agencies tend towards lowest common denominator, tried and tested formulaic cross media, more about  PR, advertising and marketing than real ‘story’ focused engagement. Against this and rather paradoxically we have the ‘so-called’ audience/users actually telling their ‘life’ stories across platforms in a much more natural and engaging way.

Having produced and studied cross media since 1997 (“What do Audiences Want” BBC pres) one very large and persistent problem has always been creating authentic transmedia stories – natural story arcs and bridges that lead you onward through a long format, multi platform experience. So why is this? What techniques do makers of user created transmedia (you and I wearing our normal, connected people hats) employ that make it more interesting to their target audience and what can the ‘artificial storytellers’ learn?

Montecity July 4th Celebs

note: this is a personal/user POV condensed version of a  longer chapter intro section in my wip book Networked Media Storytelling: Transmedia Design and Production.

Networked Media StorytellingFirstly excuse the use of the term ‘audience’ in the title, it is still a convenient catch-all for the ‘great unwashed’, old BBC term 🙂 or rather, non-professional creators. Of course we are equals and participant users when using well designed professional transmedia services, but what do ‘users’ do when telling their own stories, that pro “experience creators” don’t do and may possibly never achieve?

Before we proceed this is not comparing apples and oranges as on one side we have ‘user created transmedia’ (UCT?) ‘life stories’ aimed at a specific ‘user group’ and on the other professionally created transmedia ‘fiction’ aimed at fans or niche ‘players’. Both have a target audience and both have stories to tell.

ORIENTATION EXAMPLE

To help frame this even more a ‘simple’ example. A typical well networked person wants to share an experience, tell a single (or part of a longer arc) story to ‘their’ audience, lets say (deliberately mundane!) a personally amazing chance encounter with a strange overseas friend who share stories during a mini afternoon catch-up adventure & challenges at various city locations. Challenges being obnoxious shop assistants or overcharging taxi driver etc: 🙂 Remember this is their, Hero’s Journey, we all have one every moment of our lives, some bigger than others. In this example the main user has a pre-existing networked media story environment (amongst other networked elements) consisting of:

  1. 500 facebook friends
  2. run a well read blog
  3. 1200 twitter followers
  4. regular FourSquare user
  5. a heavily subscribed YouTube channel
  6. a busy personal flickr account
  7. use sms and skype a lot
  8. meet up with their physical social circle regularly

User Created Transmedia

Full size link – As the image illustrates I hope, and this is probably old hat to many reading this post, we can see how the rippling of moments (Laurel Papworth covers the social aspects of this in great detail in her post Ripple: Social Network Influencers) across the users ‘story world’ is constantly punctuated as the story develops. Also notice how the story world is setup – the Foursquare updates for example ‘this is where I am – if something happens you will already know…” reinforcing environment and back story. It is important also to take on-board that the user in this case feels the ‘need’ to share, part of their being is now about being constantly active in ‘their story’ network, that need will be reflected by by the network (aka a captive audience) – often it will be quick bursts of activity in real time, pushing messages outwards and occasionally responding to ‘influential’ friends as they know those contacts will proliferate the story even more. Notice also in the diagram that auto updates (twitter pushing into Facebook or flickr) are an acceptable part of more social storytelling as the need to know means a level of ‘spam’ acceptance. I could go on but this is to partly demonstrate how

Today’s socially networked users are evolving into the most talented and natural transmedia storytellers, able to fluently manipulate, create and respond across multiple ‘personally nurtured’ channels transforming in the process something very complex into something beautifully simple

OK the best pro-transmedia relies on the social media connections above to disperse their narratives but as with any form of 3rd party story, we see it is a temporary viral layer (movies, TV shows, games etc) on top of their deeper, personal life story…

The most successful element in user created transmedia are the natural bridges between channels and platforms whereas professional transmedia storytellers often force feed its audience explicit or contrived ‘in your face’ links

As usual my preamble has turned into a tome so without further ado here are ten sections that came from lectures I did on transmedia design at various presentations and higher ed establishments in 2008/9 which I will put up on my slideshare account along with some transmedia bible templates – highlighting some of the fundamental and underlying principles of an authentic networked story environment. I have compared responses to each from an UCT and professional creators perspective, across the specific kinds of interactions within the transmedia, social environment. These are all appropriate to drama, documentary and brand/ad transmedia design, production and storytelling.

NURTURING NETWORKED MEDIA STORYTELLING – WHY AUDIENCES DO IT BETTER

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Mar 112008
 

Three more quick cross posts from LAMP Watercooler – yes feeling guilty already!

Bring the Love Back

We have seen a lot of videos about the changing media environment but this one nearly a year old, slipped through the net. So just been to a great business, Trans-Tasman lunch and Tony Surtees who was speaking about ‘The Conversation’ played this very cool video which reinforces my previous post. Funny and worrying for traditional advertising models at the same time.

Online ads more effective than TV ads

The block below is from Advanced TV and seems to be another brick in the wall of proof that the ‘two-way-network’ is now starting to reach an ‘advertising’ contender level of maturity as most folk are spending most of their time on the web. It has synergy with other reports from Pew and Nielsen (which we will comment more on soon) of the growing ‘creativity’ and/or sharing exhibited by Generation C’s and Millenials again drawing people away from passive media consumption.

But back on topic, last year in the UK Google showed it already had more ad revenues than one of the leading Commercial broadcasters Channel 4 while also stating that the UK population were spending more time on the web. Also with the trojan horse of DVRs (Personal Digital TV Recorders) renowned for ad skipping, methinks advertising funded broadcasters seriously need to do some R&D into new advertising models – especially as this is a portent for contextual, personalized and targeted advertising. (Oh and for those who haven’t seen it yet I embed EPIC below for the upteenth time).

NBC has released research that suggests advertising in its programmes streamed online are better liked and more recalled than advertising on TV. According to a survey conducted on 5000 users of NBCâÄôs online service âÄòNBC RewindâÄô, viewers said ads streamed online with full-length episodes were less disruptive than on television and that they had a strong desire to interact with advertising. Ads with Interactive elements were more likely to elicit higher brand recall as well as high agreement that the ads were entertaining and relevant. “NBC.comâÄôs loyal users actively navigate and curate their own experience in NBC Rewind, so there is a high level of engagement,” said Peter Naylor, senior VP, digital media sales, NBC Universal. “These research results show that when the right message is tailored to the right medium, this engaged audience really responds and our advertisers win.”

The Richest Mobile Platform Ever?

iPhone Parallels

I have been using my iPhones to do some strange things over the past months. Most of the coolest apps come from the very active community of developers already delivering some great apps via the installer application that runs on unlocked iPhones. I have remarkably run PlayStation 1, Nintendo Entertainment System, SCUMM and Gameboy emulators. I never thought I would be playing with Tomb Raider on a hand held device so soon. So it makes absolute sense that Apple finally makes this official and opens the iPhones doors to developers via its SDK programme this week. Wired has a brief article with some rumours of the likely extension-type applications that will turn the iPhone into ‘the’ most eclectic mobile device on the planet.

Four months of rumors, speculation and giddy anticipation will come to an end Thursday, as Apple prepares to reveal how it will transform one of the most-hyped devices in tech into a full-fledged platform…the SDK will be in programmers’ hands soon, and analysts and developers expect a wide variety of applications to blossom in the coming months — everything from photo-editing apps to motion-sensing games that take advantage of the device’s orientation sensor…While enterprise software may not be as sexy as movie and game apps, its inclusion could be huge for Apple’s ability to meet its goal of 10 million iPhone sales by the end of the year. By adding features like push e-mail and cultivating relationships with corporate-software vendors, Bajarin says, the iPhone could become one of the major communication platforms in business, making it much more competitive with the corporate-friendly BlackBerry.

BTW the image above is from this developer blog – kottke.org thinks the iPhone could run IE on top of Windows via Parallels on iPhones OS X system sitting on Linux core, now my head hurts.

Sep 292005
 

Joshua 23 © Gary Hayes 2005Emerging media has always been a generational thing. How many of our mums and dads frowned at the internet? How many of my generation are not really that much into SMS? How many twenty-some-things don’t quite get that ring tone thang? Most of us are bound in the media environment we grow up in, I personally still remember the first VHS’s coming out and vaguely recall the launch of colour TV but feel a bit of a narrowbander – what should we call the new generation?

Well according to two recent studies they will be called the “My Media Generation”. Yahoo! and OMD’s report talks about the appetite for personalized media from the 13-24 year olds and a similar report posted on eContent points out that 83% of 18-24’s demand personalization! This is pretty incredible considering the “no-machine-is-gonna-get-stuff-for-me” attitude that has been around for the last decade or so.

“A key finding from this study is that members of the My Media Generation can fit up to 44 hours of activities in just one day,” said Joe Uva, president and CEO, OMD Worldwide. “Their ability to perform up to three tasks simultaneously, using multiple technologies, allows them to potentially increase their media consumption during their average waking hours. Combine this with the demand for personalization, and there’s a clear message for marketers on the need to personalize and possibly increase the frequency of their messages in order to reach today’s youth.”

I can only suspect that a generation growing in to a media world of too much choice, have decided, that rather than hide from it, actually embrace the need to multitask. In the process though they do in fact reach overload and the only course of action then is to rely on agents get things they want. My recent post on Dawn of Video Personalization talks about how this can be enabled. I will refrain from now on as talking about this generation as some strange new alien form, in fact I totally emphasize with their predicament – having grown-up through emerging media and part of complex advanced media production, I too force myself to multitask. One of the motivations of the ‘agent’ aspects of this blog is too be part of a community of producers helping a media overdosed humanity out.

The report mentions that young people in UK, Germany and Australia (the most active youngsters on the planet) are busy with at least 4 other tasks while surfing the web. The eContent report then adds symptom of this by pointing out that to overcome overload, 60% of consumers are happy to spend at least 2 minutes answering questions to get personalized content. But the older we get the more concerned about privacy and the probable spamming we get:

“Based on the fear of losing personal information, fewer consumers than last year are willing to provide personal preference and demographic information in exchange for personalized content, according to the survey. In 2005, 59% of respondents indicated a willingness to provide preference information, down six percent from 2004. Additionally, 46% of respondents are willing to provide demographic data in 2005, down 11% from 2004.”

Personalizing media does indeed seem very generational. As the TV coach potato moves into the older generation, the My Media Generation now use the TV, as ambient, background wallpaper.

“While young people are increasingly turning to the Internet for content and functions traditionally served by other media outlets, they are still active users of TV, radio, magazines, and to a lesser extent, newspapers. TV serves as a mechanism for escape and entertainment. It is frequently on in the background, and “must see” shows like “The OC” are popular topics of conversation. For comedy, TV is the most popular medium, cited by almost 50 percent of youth, while for fashion, magazines are the clear No. 1 choice.’

What does all this mean for new types of services I hear you ask? It does suggest the future is definitely cross-media, across multiple platforms. The My Media Generation are used to multi-tasking, they are used to browsing and jumping between devices and physical locations. Services that use this, that create story and engage the MMG world, permeate it and play on the fact that as multitaskers they are already running self-induced parallel narratives. As service producers we need to provide them with cohesive, multi-device, multi-media-type experiences – then add the personalization layer on as well, just to make things that little more interesting!

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005