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May 022011
 

I presented at Australia’s only Multi-Platform TV show last week and my talk was entitled ‘The Gamification of Social TV – Inspiring the Stories of Tomorrow’. A broad brushstrokes look at the current trend of motivating TV users already busy in social networks to ‘interact’. The slideshare presentation is embedded below and the flow of that is echoed in this post (which has a few other rich media embeds too).

The structure was based on the usual questions, a) What is Social TV ? b) What is Driving it ? c) The Value for the Users  d) What it Means for the Creators who enable it?  Hoping to help the small but quality audience understand the reasons to look at the value Social TV brings to the users vs jumping straight in on the ROI of getting more eyeballs on the existing programming. The Gamification aspect is about looking at the ‘playful’ techniques being used to turn audiences into users around traditional type TV programming – which is already becoming socially active.
The Gamification of Social TV

A Bit of History

In defining Social TV I tried to point out that this is nothing new. Ye Olde Days of Interactive (social) iTV circa 2002 which I was heavily involved in at the BBC although based on single screen interfaces still had at its heart the need to connect viewers to the TV channel but also to each other . I referred to it as SetTopBox iTV with a slice of social and the most popular (up to 8 million during some shows) services tended to be the ones that synched the TV to the interactive element – one small step for tech one giant leap for editorial . So Social TV is not new, perhaps it is up to level 3.0 – 1.0 being single screen iTV, 2.0 video on the web combined with social and chat features and 3.0 the hybrid, global two screen synch’d & app based services we are seeing more and more of now.

From an personal and historical context I also talked briefly about a few early iTV services such as XCreatures  broadband service I produced in 1999 and delivered to 100s of test homes in London over YesTV IPTV service & B T broadband backbone. The BBC’s first broadband programme to live audiences where for me the significant elements was the way users could not only navigate through fragmented clips but most importantly communicate and leave their own comments at the end – remember this is on the same screen using an IR keyboard!

What is Social TV?

In terms of defining the landscape of Social TV I called these early days baby-steps and divided it into three key movements

  • The Conversation of TV   – around the back-channel, recommendation and communities
  • The Gamification of TV   – making services playful, tribe building and participative
  • The Personalization of TV   – encouraging users contribution , making it personally relevant  & drawing in their stories

Social TV Is Not A Battle for Eyeballs

I went out of my way to stress that Social Media is not battling with Broadcast TV for the big Ad Dollar prize , this is not Facebook vs ABC or iTunes/GoogleTV vs BBC but potentially about  the real synergy , Live format TV and Social Media as perfect bedfellows. I continue after the presentation slides.

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Mar 252011
 

I have been trying to find a really simple metaphor for clients, students and other industry professionals to help them better understand the complex world of multi-platform. Also completing the last few chapters of my Networked Media Storytelling book I needed a big but simple metaphor. One of the biggest issues I have faced over the years is rooted in the question “I tell stories on one or two platforms why do I need to reach out onto other platforms and how?”. I often reply with a long answer that falls into a few categories (1) Audience have fragmented 2) Business models have shifted (3) Engagement and social needs have altered (4) Have you noticed a general decline in traditional media? (5) Your stories can be improved exponentially if you ‘transmediarize’ them etc: I obviously leave the more fundamental ‘how to’s” to my consultations or workshops and a key element of that is what are the new platforms combined with how to design your story appropriately for them.

So for a few workshops & talks recently I developed a simple ‘graphic’ which demystifies some of the challenges storytellers face. This post describes the motivation and deeper thinking behind the World Map of Multi-Platform Cultures & Transmedia Rituals. How to understand this new world and how to navigate the relatively uncharted waters?

Ye Olde Days – The Disconnected World of Gated Platform

Around 40 years ago the opportunities for storytellers were both limited and segregated. By that I mean it was hard to truly make your media work across multiple distribution channels, sure you could do the whole film of the whole book or the whole radio play of the whole comic but the concept of placing ‘isolated’ narrative elements of your story appropriately designed for each and meant to ‘move’ users between them was a pretty alien concept. The more sophisticated story form within multi-platform (transmedia) was also hard to achieve due to the commercial gate holders on each platform wanting the ‘self-contained’ whole – not bits and pieces that also promoted competitors or drove traffic away.

World of Multi-Platform in 1970s

But as we all know between 1990 and the present broadband internet, social media and mobile technology changed the landscape in a not so subtle way and old school media creative thinking is not relevant anymore in this altered landscape.

The New World Dis-Order of Multi-Platform Experiences

Wow how things have changed. Like our physical planet mass media and its internal cultures has splintered, the land masses moved apart leaving a complex environment to navigate.

World Map of Multi-Platform Cultures & Transmedia Rituals

Firstly we have the large continents of

  • The Sea of 2D Media – Video, audio, images and includes the Bay of Social Media
  • The Ocean of 3D Games – Social Worlds, Console single players, MMOGs, Serious, Casual
  • The Lands of Physicality – Theme Parks, Outdoor Screens, Urban Spaces etc: and includes the Bay of Mobiles

Looking more closely at my map, consider the hybrid media ‘waters’ that separate the lands. Between Games and Physical Lands/Mobile we find the ‘Straits of Augmented Reality’ – meshing the digital and the real.

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Mar 182011
 

There are a handful of artists out there making great progress and learning how to meaningfully connect with their fans, build communities around themselves in new ways –  one of these  news ways is by bringing the fans deeper into the creative process. But there are still many agencies and traditional artists running fly-by-night ‘campaigns’ or superficial ‘create a logo for us / do an ad and win $500’ dis-respectful call-to-actions. Things have changed and the ‘wanna be an extra in our indy film’ does not cut the mustard anymore in a world where the users have already tasted self-publishing – nowadays we are talking about solidifying loyalty by integrating existing fans into the creative process at from the birth of the project through to the final distribution.

This post, which is a follow-on from my Co-Creating Transmedia Communities post in Sept,  looks at the levels (specifically six kinds) of crowd sourcing engagement and takes it one step beyond.

THE NEW RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ARTIST AND ‘CREATIVE’ FAN

We all have our favourite artists – musicians, directors, sculptures, painters, TV personalities and we all have varying degrees of relationships with them. There is a big difference from appreciation at one end to super (obsessed?) fan at the other. But with the new breed of wonderful, stable online collaboration content networks available, the super fan can now become meaningful collaborator. The nature of ‘fanatic’ has evolved:

  1. DISTANT – Worship from afar and happy to just enjoy pushed, finished, packaged content
  2. COLLECTOR – Collects extra insight content from and about the artists
  3. PHYSICAL – Regularly goes to experiential events and concerts and may possibly have low level interaction with the artists
  4. ACKNOWLEDGED – The artist nurtures the fans into a community, a tribe that builds its own identity. They may change their personal look and brand themselves as being part of the artist’s ‘tribe’
  5. CONVERSATIONAL – A dialogue, direct and often in real time between artist and super fans
  6. CREATIONIST – The artist and tribe make ‘stuff’ together

It is of course the last three of the new types of relationships above that have come to the fore in recent years.

COLLABORATIVE ENCOUNTERS OF SIX DIFFERENT KINDS

Bondi Sculpture by the Sea 2010 162

As I was formulating the previous 6 levels (yes I like doing levels!) I suddenly thought of one of my favourite films, from my youth. I have always been fascinated by Speilberg’s Close Encounters…and particularly the meaning behind the ‘Third Kind’. As we know it is actually a reference to J. Allen Hynek‘s 1972 scale of interaction with extra-terrestrial life forces. (There are actually seven levels listed on Wikipedia but the sixth one is redundant being a duplicate of number 2)…

  1. A sighting of an extraterrestrial craft
  2. Physical evidence of the extraterrestrial
  3. Seeing live extraterrestrial beings
  4. A human is ‘taken-in’ or acknowledged by the extraterrestrials
  5. On-going, real time, communication between extraterrestrial and humans
  6. Procreation between extraterrestrial and human

So as you do, I decided to merge 2) the escalation of our extraterrestrials with 1) the evolution of the fan and I came up with, drum roll – Gary’s Online Crowd Sourcing Levels of Six Kinds: (lets assume a level 0 which is basically passive consumption of everything that follows)

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Mar 092011
 

I was interviewed by Andrew Collins in December’s Hyper Magazine about Social and Augmented Reality gaming. Hyper magazine is a great game monthly and a regular buy for me with its pretty solid reviews and impartial editorial for the game world as well as some forward looking features. The gaming industry is close to a precipice as games spill out into the real world (as I have blogged about many times before!) so I thought I would publish the article (and my interview on which much of the article is based) this week as the race for the augmented reality, locative game space trophy truly begins and the contestants line up on the starting grid…

  1. Sony with it’s NGP virtual treasure hunts
  2. Nintendo’s 3DS games in the real world AR launch
  3. a multitude of Android AR game apps in development/release and in case you missed it
  4. about to be released the iPad 2 with it’s dual camera support for Augmented Reality locative games and all the iPhone AR apps that will flood across
  5. and of course

Mid to late 2011 is going to be significant – a fun, social, locative augmented reality game nirvana. Perhaps the real battle though is going to be between locked down, TV room, single player console gaming vs open, social, locative casual AR gaming? Interview after the cover…

KINDLY REPUBLISHED © HYPER – THE MAGAZINE FOR GAMERS DECEMBER 2010


 

Traditional game developers are extending the gaming experience beyond what appears on the retail disc and into the social realm, rewarding players for exploring media outside of the console and the PC.

Andrew Collins takes a look at what’s on offer

Casual social networking games have exploded in popularity recently, with a bunch of casual game developers popping out of the woodwork producing low-tech but addictive games. Now traditional game developers and publishers have joined the party, seeking to adapt the trend to their own needs, and their own games.

This bleed of PC and console games out into social networking services has immense potential. There’s a whole world of cool stuff going on right now, and even greater stuff just around the corner – that has the potential to change the way we game completely.

You probably already know the most basic form of this blend of traditional and social gaming: the automatic status update. Many games now will notify your Facebook or Twitter contacts when you accomplish a goal in-game.

It’s unfortunate that this is the most recognisable example of this trend; at best, it’s annoying, and at worst, it’s annoying as hell. Do you really care that your flatmate’s cousin’s boyfriend just unlocked an achievement in FIFA 11? How do you feel when he unlocks 10 in the space of half an hour, flooding your social networking news feed?

Fortunately, developers have realised this and have moved on to integrating gaming and social networking in more interesting ways that suit us all.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?

Before we look at these developments, it’s worth looking at why the games industry is embracing social networking.

As we found out in issue 204, the market for casual social networking games is booming, generating ridiculous amounts of revenue for those lucky or smart enough to have a finger in this lucrative social pie.

But the learned readers of Hyper are not the only ones who have cottoned on to this fact. Traditional games developers and publishers have seen the sheer number of people drawn into this social gaming trend, and have realised that it could work for them – not as a direct source of revenue, but rather as a form of marketing.

Put simply, every time you tell your 600 Facebook friends what game you’re playing, you’re giving the publisher 600 free ads for their game, and giving the game your own personal stamp of approval. Congratulations! You are advertising space.

Gary Hayes is an expert on the relationship between games and social networking. He has a terribly long bio – far too long to reproduce in full here – with experience in TV, music, virtual worlds, game production, lecturing, and many, many other things. He’s most succinctly described as a `transmedia guru’ – someone who dwells in the overlap of different mediums.

According to Hayes, this venture of traditional gaming into social networking isn’t a short lived gimmick that just a few companies are toying with – it’s now a necessity for developers.

“From an economic point of view, given the massive rise of social games over the last couple of years, and the decline in console games generally (in June of this year there was around a 10% drop in total game industry sales, down to about $6.7 billion), traditional games developers – EA and Ubisoft and so on – are looking at social gaming as really a pretty important part of the mix that they need to be involved in,” Hayes says.

“It’s part of their survival,” he says. “There’s a quote from Alex St. John [DirectX creator and social gaming producer] who says that if a game doesn’t have a social element, it’s going to be dead before it starts out, in the future.”

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