Oct 152008

Been a bit lapse in not posting other talks I have been giving around Oz so these are just in time. A range from Cross-Social-Media, Mixed Reality, Games/Film and the Creative Web…

Weds 12-14 November 2008 – The 23rd Annual SPAA Conference, Sheraton Mirage, Gold Coast, Australia

Presenting on and producing panel on Thursday 13 Nov 3.00-4.15


Which side of the wall are you on?  Are You Ready for the The Mixed Reality, Entertainment Perfect Storm

TV and Film OR Games and Virtual Worlds? That wall is about to crumble. This is a wake up call to all entertainment producers and consumers to prepare for an almighty collision. Audiences are already spending up to four times as much of their entertainment time in virtual spaces than they are watching TV. EA Games have partnered with Endemol to produce TV shows inside virtual worlds, MTV Networks have virtual versions of their popular TV programs Laguna Beach, The Hills etc and there is a growing tide of global landmark series spilling into virtual worlds such as CSI, The L Word and Big Brother.

This exciting panel will examine a wide range of cross-over services that work between games, virtual worlds and linear TV. The panel is intended for games creators, social network managers and film and TV producers looking to merge their entertainment worlds. It will also be of interest to designers of games that work across media in the physical world using mobiles, print, viral techniques, TV and the web.

“I think we are really approaching a perfect storm, a mixed reality perfect storm, because we are seeing several things happening. The first one is a long history of games based on TV and films. Another ‘wind’ is virtual worlds, particularly the exponential growth of customisable social spaces and the important ability to integrate external media into them. The third force is audience behaviour, who involved in far more simultaneous activity particularly between broadband web and TV. The fourth element to this perfect storm is actually what is happening to TV and film, such as live reality TV becoming more game like and now over 100 feature films in production based on game worlds. All of these forces together are creating a really potent mix that all producers need to be aware of” Gary Hayes



Thursday 23rd October, 2008– DebateIT: All the web’s a stage!

Join us as we debate whether the internet is helping unleash creativity. What opportunities are there for the creative on the internet? We will discuss the enormous potential of user generated content, the new business models and whether the technology is driving or restraining creativity. Speakers include:

  • Gary Hayes, Director LAMP & Head of Virtual Worlds, The Project Factory
  • Martin Hosking, Executive Chairman, RedBubble;
  • Angela Thomas, Lecturer, English Education, University of Sydney;
  • Therese Fingleton, Project Manager, Australia Council;
  • Jeff Cotter, CTO, SIMMERSION Holdings

Venue: Lecture Theatre, Museum of Sydney-Cnr of Phillip & Bridge Streets, Sydney Time: 5.00pm Р7.00pm 5.00-5.20pm РRegistration, drinks, canap̩s and networking 5.20-6.30pm РDebateIT 6.30-7.00pm РDrinks, canap̩s and networking Cost: $50 (inc. GST)

Saturday 24th and 25th October – SPAA Fringe – Keynote “Future of Social Media Entertainment”

Next week, on 24th and 25th October, Sydney’s Chauvel Cinema will come alive with the buzz of talented filmmakers at the 9th annual SPAA Fringe conference.-Continuing the tradition of showcasing innovative and aspirational speakers, delegates will be delighted to know that LAMP Director Gary Hayes; award winning Executive Producer Sue Maslin (Celebrity: Dominick Dunn, Japanese Story); and Phil Lloyd, (Writer), Reuben Field (Post Production Supervisor) and Dean Bates (Producer) from Review with Myles Barlow will also be sharing their insights.

“Gary Hayes is one of Australia’s leading authorities on cross media. He led the new media division at the BBC for several years and is called on to speak at all the major international digital events. Cross platform is such a massive, evolving beast and this important session is to bring us up to speed with what is happening NOW.-Luckily for us Gary lives and works in Sydney (at AFTRS) – frankly he was a no brainer.” Gaylee Butler, SPAA Fringe Curator

Hayes is the Director of LAMP (Laboratory for Advanced Media Production) and Head of Virtual Worlds, The Project Factory. At SPAA Fringe, Hayes will look at the existing and future forms of entertainment by studying successful case studies of ‘connected’ entertainment around the world and some of his own work at BBC, game and virtual worlds and selected projects at LAMP and AFTRS.

“Social Media Entertainment at its simplest level is large connected online communities creating, commenting, sharing and playing with content. As eyeballs move from traditional distribution screens, so do the advertisers and so does your funding. Be prepared for the future and start to understand how to really engage with the participatory audience, learn how to engage by having a conversation with them rather than shouting at them.” Gary Hayes, Director at LAMP

Sue Maslin is an award-winning producer with credits including the feature films Road To Nhill and Japanese Story. She has independently produced many documentaries and is Executive Producer Of Celebrity: Dominick Dunne, which premiered to sell out audiences at the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival.-Her session will look at alternative ways of managing business and financing projects in the new “˜Offset’ environment as well as retaining and exploiting content rights across all screens ““ cinema, television and digital on-line. Celebrity: Dominique Dunn will open theatrically on the opening night of SPAA Fringe, where delegates will receive a discount by presenting their badge.

“SPAA Fringe attracts emerging and experienced filmmakers who are prepared to think outside the box. It provides the perfect opportunity to engage with the comprehensively changing screen industry landscape and the kind of methodologies and screen content which will be relevant in the future. All bets are off as far as I’m concerned. Expect really exciting and challenging times ahead.”-Sue Maslin, Film Art Media

Review with Myles Barlow was conceived by long-time friends Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell (Co-creators) who originally intended the show to be short interstitials, one review per episode. In 2007, Lloyd and O’Donnell brought the idea to Starchild Productions, the Darlinghurst partnership of producer Bates and director Field. Together, the four developed the project in their down time. Review with Myles Barlow looks at the triviality of critics who “˜waste time’ on matters such as film, food or art. The show follows one man who dares to review all facets of life ““ our experiences, our emotions, our deepest, darkest desires ““ to rate them out of five stars.

“The team behind Review with Myles Barlow are interesting for a number of reasons.-They go to air on ABCTV on 16 October so the show is fresh as a fish. To raise awareness they have a really clever viral campaign going on and their low budget means that the set is entirely created in post– production.” Gaylee Butler, SPAA Fringe Curator

Friday 31 October – Future of Branded Social Entertainment (McCann Erickson)

Details to follow

24-25th November – Online Social Networking and Business Collaboration – Dockside, Sydney

Unravel the mysteries of web 2.0 as leading executives from enterprise marketing and government demonstrate the opportunities and challenges awaiting you in the second generation of web based communities.With the explosion of interest in the business models driving the internet economy, this event will establish the commercial offerings social media can bring to enterprise, marketers and government.

Offering Keynote insight from the industry’s leading experts, social media campaign studies from corporate marketers and collaboration case studies from enterprise and government, this 2 day streamed event will promote your understanding of how all areas of the traditional economy are benefiting from the revolution in social participation and collaboration.

Expert Research

  • Gary Hayes, Director LAMP and Head of Virtual Worlds-The Project Factory
  • Michele Levine, CEO,-Roy Morgan Research
  • Tony Marlow, Associate Director of Research-Nielsen Online
  • Michael Walmsley, General Manager Asia Pacific,-Hitwise
  • Nick Abrahams, Chairman, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group,-Deacons
  • Scott Buchanan, Founder,-Buchanan Law
  • Donna Bartlett, Partner, Media,-Holding Redlich

12.00pm Tuesday 25th – Digital Worlds: Social, Virtual, Mobile

  • Meet generation V
  • What are the opportunities for enterprise, marketers and government?
  • The psychological implications of virtual interaction
  • What are the mobility limitations of virtual worlds?

Gary Hayes, Director LAMP, Head of Virtual Worlds, The Project Factory Laurel Papworth, Director & Social Networks Strategist, World Communities Paul Salvati, Director, Channel Management, smartservice QUEENSLAND

Well that’s most of them – there are lots of seminars and private tete-a-tetes mixed in-between, as well as endless prep at AFTRS etc etc: making for a rush towards the end of the year!

Oct 252007

As usual I feel so guilty about not blogging as much as I should – partly due to just producing so much…starting to believe the new adage that someone mentioned to me a couple of years ago – “those who don’ t produce, blog” – that might muster up a comment or two 😉

Anyway onto this little quick post which I am creating a lovely 3D graphic for for as I expand it – Augmented Reality TV. The two videos below basically say it all and please wait for a fuller commentary in the next few days. My key interests in this space are obviously running LAMP and steering its direction, Head of VWs for “The Format Factory” (linked to The Project Factory) where I am also creating and drafting several formats in this hybrid space and many public presentations, bite size one here for example and invited to talk on this topic in a few weeks in Brussels at the Cross-Media Storytelling shindig. But anyway videos speak louder than words (ish) so here goes…

TV and Story Enter Virtual Worlds – CSI today!

Virtual Worlds Enter TV and Story – Boxi, HTV7 Vietnam

BTW you really have to watch to the middle of the last one and then imagine if those avatars were being driven in real time by say Second Life users, using their own SL identities! I think the two examples above highlight in the most simple way the rich hybrid space growing as the two hemi-spheres of influence of 1) Social Network Virtual Worlds and 2) Traditional Broadcast media begin to overlap. I also love the CSI example (are they really gonna crash the grid today expecting 2 million to flood in – I hope not! ) as it fits neatly into my Cross-Media Level 3: Bridges zone. But this is about participation, participatory TV, inhabited TV and other variant, combinations. This has far more significance than the SL Big Brother I blogged extensively about last year, which was really a Virtual World clone of the TV one. This new form is drawing large numbers of audiences onto shared screens and into virtual spaces creating a great combination of non-passive immersion.

More to come and a lovely 3D diagram naturally 😉 Finally a couple more trailers for the CSI in Second Life show

and a shorter version

© Gary Hayes 2007

ARGs in Virtual Worlds

 Posted by on May 27, 2006 at 10:21 pm  Add comments

Second Life ARGOk the title sounds a little ‘space cadet’ and paradoxical but bear with me on this one because the implications go way beyond the focus of this post which is a quick orientation and guide to non-scripted but organised ‘social play’ inside a virtual world and a great way to plan a Real World Alternate Reality Game – or run a special form one inside the vr world. As you may have read on my previous post “The Personalization of Second Life” there are a few shared, virtual spaces that are infinitely personalizable and customisable. Second Life is the leader in this area and so has become the focus of many activities that require represention – a sort of ‘real as it gets’ for doing real world-type things in – a place to create something representing the real world, our physical world. (As a tangent I personally believe we need to move towards creating new and non-representations of our real world as most folk in SL tend to midly enhance their RL existences, build precise replicas of the first life or a few enlightened ones are planning singularity! – I will not go into that rabbit hole as I posted about the Human 2.0 upgrade a few months ago).

Back to the post which in theory sounds complex. Inside Second Life people get paid for organising events and ARG puppet-masters will and should be part of that mix. We need to go beyond just concerts or dances or bingo – but whole in-world game-play, that has some sophistication and plays on the paradigms inherent in the space. Another rabbit hole of game within a game – but SL is not realy a game but a created society, which makes it ideal for what I describe below in the guide element of this post. So we have a real world in which to potentially do things with far more imagination but more importantly, at lower cost and more efficiently. It takes minutes to build a complex 3D structure and texture map it, hours to construct a building with multiple floors and seconds to travel anywhere. It is in this context and the imaginative aspects of this world that it dawned on me an environment perfect for alternate reality gaming.

Second Life ARG - streaming mediaI often think of ARG’s as similar in format to after dinner mystery games, a collaborative quest of a truth – but spread over months, and location. This is not to be derogatory about the form as real world narrative immersion can be profound and of course it goes deeper but it helps people get it. Borrowing from the earliest Greek mystery plays, theatre eg: mousetrap, 40s crime films, Hitchcock, 70s US cop TV plays, CSI, Lost, Da Vinci code, GoldRush etc etc “nothing is what it seems”. Form & genre evolved. Another way to describe them is to think of something like the X-files (which blurred reality and fantasy) played out in real spaces and media by the audience. A final stab at describing it – a search for the truth behind potential conspiracy, a quest for answers, a participatory game across many media types where lots of people help each other “get to the bottom of it”! It takes the mystery genre mixes in internet search and corporate culture sprinkles some console-like gameplay and adds a dash of real life constructs. The thing that seperates it from being a web quest is the physical element IMHO. So that is my version of ARG. There iare many and various definitions at wikipedia. But constructing any interactive service that requires a complex mix of story, multi paths and built, multiple, pre-rendered elements is hard work. MMORPGs, console games and web quests alike require a great deal of production planning and creation. It should be easy to recruit many folk inside SL to work together in creating ARGs (see below) that is part of the collaborative magic of the place. Making up a cross media game distributed across many platforms is a task not for the faint hearted. We have done a few very rough mini attempts as team building exercises at LAMP I run but they tend to be no more than murder mysteries with a few slim websites and real life role playing thrown in. The form needs a place where it is easy to create complex story structures and also have the real time element. So…enough preamble (yes I am typing this live into the wordpress box by the way!!) – even more worrying…

Second Life ARGSecond Life has all the raw ingredients for great Alternate Reality Game production and execution. FIRSTLY, though the basis on which all of this depends is that “the virtual space is regarded as being complete and of itself a self contained reality AND all participants have a shared perception of the space” – (note: participants who are agreeing to share a common narrative and not ALL residents yet). In other words, in this case, Second Life IS the world for the participants and everything that happens within it has no references (or shouldnt have) to the real world – the one your sat in now. This may be the paradox to some who would say that ARG’s by definition may contain a virtual game, not so here, this IS the world. So a fourth wall has to be created, the role playing by the characters in a piece has to be kept within the world, no references to the first world and so on. The challenge is getting everyone on the same song sheet – old SLifers have a completely different take on the world than newbies of course – and everything in between. More later. The story structure of the ARG must be closely aligned to the world of Second Life – because the narrative is suggesting something parallel or ‘alternate’ to the world, it should not also become too fantasy (more later). Because then we step into World of Warcraft, or Everquest territory – and that would be easy to do. No the story world here needs to play off the everyday world of Second Life (OK those who have not spent time here may think I have lost it or am reading way too much into, what many call a computer game…).

Second Life ARGNo Second Life is a very immersive and time consuming experience – it is both worringly addictive yet extends in the most compelling way ones “dreams & desires” – but I digress yet again. Themes that would be easy inside SL include conspiracies around property given the relative high cost of land. Others around the many locations and buildings in terms of history, and previous events that may have happened there. Much could be built into corporate take over, the large shopping malls and potential mafiosa regimes. There are many ‘real life’ characters inside SL(due to the fact that they are ‘in’ the world most days) that could be used as something to generate myth – these ‘regulars’ do in fact constantly role play as well so they could be used. Also as many activities such as building, lectures, dances, concerts etc take place – anything can be built to that. Another kind of theme which a few of us have been improvising around in public spaces already 😉 would be the bizarre concepts around a ‘revolution against the overlords that run Second Life’. Bear with me on this one – a kind of phythonesque, satirical, nonsense stab at the ‘system’ on which SL runs. Can the inmates take over the asylum, biting the hands that feed it, Neo escapes the matrix and so on. There are many themes to explore as the backbone of an ARG inside Second Life that do not need to resort to fantasy.


Second Life ARGSecond life has so many potential tools that designers of ARG’s inside it can draw on. It affords many things that are very difficult or nigh on impossible in the physical world, yet in SL are taken as granted. Here is a non-exhaustive list that from my experience so far could be used as virtual reality, alternate reality game tools.

Easy and always on communication: IM and chat is ubiquitous inside SL. So talking to characters in front of you and in parallel IM’ing distant ones is VERY easy. Also you can deliver out of band, in other words leave messages for others with guarenteed delivery – now think sms or even email in the real ‘global world and the multiple carrier, spam nightmare. This is where global players can instantaneously communitcate in-game.

Location, location, location: To get to anyplace in Second Life one simply teleports. This means the whole 200 000 people world can be readily explored and therefore distributed widely and not tied to a specific location. That is not to say one location could act as base with dense areas of gameplay.

Inter character exchanges: This is where any character can pass you objects, directions, teleportation coordinates, animations, notecards – the list goes on. A tool such as this really means clue discovery and passing stories between players is a breeze.

Grouping: To create teams inside SL is also very easy, and new members can be added on the fly. Members of your group can be tracked across the built in maps.

Orientation: SL has many ways to find things, people and know where you are. The built in search engine can point you at any person, event, place, object inside the world. So placing clues and red herrings etc: is also very easy. The mapping is incredible and zooming, scrolling across the many thousands of buildings combined with instantaneous teleporting on a double click means you can get anywhere from anywhere.

Second Life ARGScripting: It is incredibly easy to put script into objects in SL. I used some pre-compiled code last night and modified it to build a greeting object (one that talks back based on pre-set text input) AND an answer machine AND something that sends you notecards AND even got into scripting motion – so things can move to locations on input or follow characters. So bespoke elements can be quickly added into the mix.

Animation: Not an obvious element of the SL tool set to use, but well animated characters who are real life (inside Second Life) add to the sense of reality I think. Even though the character may look like Brad Pitt (just realised one of mine does a bit!) or some kind of cat woman, if the movements are fluid, then the world is all the more usuable and once immersed doesnt lead to sense of disbelief. True immersion should afford that. So get good skins (the texture around your avatar) and override (basic) animations using an AO (animation overridere) for your characters.

Identity: This is a great area to explore in ARG’s as characters avatars can change at the drop of a hat. In otherwords a surfer dude can change into an office worker in a split second in front of you (choose a rather ‘normal example’ for brevity!). But what that means is that one can really play on the ‘no one is who they seem’ mentality here. Great for conspiracy and diversionary tactics…

Virtual Cross-Media: SL allows movies and sound to be streamed via the web into the world onto screens and through objects – opening all sorts of possibilities. Also objects can contain sound bytes and have logic – so entering the right code into an object could produce a video on a large screen to appear, or a clue to be automatically sent to your inventory (the place where all your ‘stuff’ is held). There are virtual working radios, tv, phones (including ones that use the real world participants voice played through the character), obviously print, posters and so on. All the things a puppet-master (those who make traditional ARGs) would need 😉
Breaking the fourth wall: I would not do this myself but you can link to web pages – which boot an external browser – but dont go there.

There are many other tools believe it or not that I may add later when they become apparent…


Second Life ARGFinally one of the drawbacks of Second Life is that bespoke elements, objects and clues can only be placed on parcels (land) that the owner has allowed or placed there themselves. So in a distributed virtual alternate reality game (now that is a mouthful!) you will need a few recruits to both role play and allow physical clues or evidence to be pre-set. This should be an easy task as networks of like minded machinima, social design and others pushing the gaming element are easy to find inside SL, to communicate with and offer to help them in their pursuits – to reciprocate. Or as many do you can pay a small fee.


Without going too mcuh into the design process of a social game within a game-like environment primarily because I have things to do in real life now! The design of the game here should follow simple rules – test, do some test runs on virtual strangers to make sure they get some of the directional elements. Make sure that the real players have enough knowledge of the mechanics of the world (how to use it) so they are not locked out because they cannot work out how to teleport (as a simple example). Cover your backs – if a clue becomes to difficult to decipher make sure you have an alternate way for them to get to it, a character prod and so on. Then the design of the ARGamePlay – whether everyone has to get all clues OR some are given only to certain teams who have to work together OR more usefully a mix of both of those make sure the timing is carefully worked out. If some things are easier than others then you will have teams losing interest once they have done their bit, if things are too hard, they may give up. But these sorts of techniques are discussed elsewhere by far more capable people – this post is about moving the ARG into the virtual space both for easy of production and to use some create tool sets built in already. I/we will be creating a bunch of VARG’s (virtual alternate reality games) at AFTRS and LAMP and will keep you posted on how it goes which should dovetail with the machinima we are starting to play with. One of the real problems I can see (which many of you would have already spotted) is that the ‘way of life’, the grammar of existance inside Second Life takes a few days or weeks to grasp – and then the control mechanics too. To newcomers it is a confusing world and orientation is quite steep. So for an ARG to work well all participants must be fully ‘immersed’ and understand the shared space and so called SL normality – whatever that is. There are enough shared ground rules though for it to work in my opinion if the participant is given a week or so to be acclimatized.

As a post script: The point of this post as I suggested at the beginning is not just to talk about one kind of service creation inside a virtual space but to point out that once all parties are agreed that the ‘virtual world’ becomes THE world and nothing else exists outside it, many, many things become possible. Especially as I have been seeing already – the extention into things that are totally new and not representing our first life in anyway shape of form. But will leave that to another day. I am becoming more and more resistant to talking about the real world inside the immersive space as it truly inhibits real creativity – so if you see me in there at anytime, please be yourself 😉

Posted by Gary Hayes (Hazlitt) © 2006

Append: Looks like all great ideas come at once all over the world! Someone else with ‘ARG inside Second Life’ motivation no less than a day after this post 😉 – and who nicely refers back here. Cool – strength in numbers!