We have to have a talk about second screens.
We have to have a talk about second screens.
This is the fourth time that I read a transmedia-bashing blog post in a short period of time, and it down right pisses me off. I am even more pissed off by the fact that it’s cheered on by some of the forefront people in our sector of the entertainment business.
So why do I feel so offended? They are only pointing out that transmedia is not for everyone. It’s not a seal of quality nor an achievement.
While I totally agree with those notions and champion them frequently in the appropriate situations, I feel that it’s not relevant outside of those contexts. Because while movies or even stories are not applicable for every entertainment property, movies and stories are still pretty awesome as concepts. Otherwise we wouldn’t be coming back to them.
The same goes for transmedia productions. They aren’t required to make a successful production. They aren’t always good. But if they are done properly they pack a pretty mean punch.
Transmedia storytelling is still in it’s cradle. Bashing it in this stage is harmful to us all and makes aspiring creatives look away from it.
So go sit in the corner and think about what you did. You are welcome back out to play with the other children when you are ready to play nice.
So… We’ve been at this for a while now, and it’s been a good time to be in the transmedia business.
We feel that there are too many people out there who do not understand how great you really are. What powers and potential that they are neglecting.
But we’re here to tell you that we understand. We’re here to tell you that we’ve noticed what you’ve given us in return for the work we’ve put into listening to and caring about your opinion.
We are overwhelmed with your commitment, trust, praise and ability to challenge and entertain us right back every single time.
We’ve laughed and cried, talking to you as the characters you’ve loved. And we just want to say that we love you too. We’ve loved every second with you.
And we’d just like to say thank you. It’s been truly magical, watching you live our stories, nurturing them and making them grow. And you grow with them.
It’s with great pleasure we’ve watched you run down our streets, hack our websites, wrestle our armed security guards, find our hidden locations, eavesdrop on our phone conversations, follow our video blogs, chat with us on twitter and facebook and give us feedback every step of the way.
Watching you decipher the Truth about Marika, joining the Conspiracy For Good, figuring out Erebos the Game has been the best times of our lifes, and soon enough you will be witnessing the curtains come down to reveal the cracks in The Karada.
Thank you, players, viewers, audience, lurkers, sharers, ambassadors, collaborators. We’ve owe you everything, and we promise to always stay the same.
Today we wrapped up auditions for our latest cross-media webseries. Our actress is brilliant, probably has the coolest name ever, and better yet; she’s not even brown haired.
We’d like the thank our fantastic co-workers and partners - the scripts have turned from silver to gold the past weeks. Love’yall.
Stay tuned this week for more teasers.
Sometimes you just got to love Twitter. In the olden days - back when we won an Emmy award - people would call to congratulate me and thank me for my great work.
It’s new times now, but I don’t mind. I am just as happy to see in @BrianSethHurst ’s twitter-feed that our latest project, conspiracy for good, was just awarded with a BANFF Rockies Award for BEST CROSS-PLATFORM PROJECT.
First an Emmy - now this. I am lost for words.
Thank you all once again! I will see you at the party!
It appears I went to bed too early. While I was already deep asleep, we won another banff for Best Interactive! If I was lost for words before. I am just shining now.
Now for my morning coffee! //Tom
Ok, so something has been bothering me for a while now. At the dawn of the transmedia-crossmedia-newstorytelling era, people were amazed about the possibilities of immersion that transmedia presented the participants with.
A dream began to grow in the darkest corners of internet. A dream of the seamless 360° story. In fact, one of the earliest attempts to define the format that I ever heard spoke of the magic circle - and in all right. Pervasive transmedia cross-platform projects were indeed based on the fact that you could not tell game from reality.
Now, here is where we should have taken a few steps back and sobered up. A game where noone knows they are playing a game must defeat it’s own purpose (unless that purpose is to manipulate people against their will or better judgement - see the pro’s and con’s below).
Now this was in fact being discussed, but only as a moral dilemma, not whether or not it was good design or practice. However, out of those discussions sprang the one thing that has allowed the format to stay alive; the ludic marker.
The ludic marker was a way to inform participants that they were taking part of something fictional. There were three main ways to create a ludic marker;
Now, ludic markers have always been something that I’ve pushed for. I think they are a great way to give participants some perspective on what they are doing. In fact, I think they should be used much more than they are already.
But it is the spectacular setting-marker that I want to address specifically today.
I have seen a growing trend of making transmedia experiences ‘seamless’. A lot of people seem to think that immersion can only be achieved when people actually think that a story is real. I am here to tell you why you are wrong and why that is bad.
Reality is boring
The first reason to doubt the seamless format is that reality already exists. I can’t count the times I’ve heard ”That would never happen in real life” when people have presented great ideas, and almost every time those words are uttered - a great idea dies.
If seamlessness was an entertaining factor in itself, we wouldn’t need entertainment. Life as we know it provides us with plenty of challenges and goals. The reason that we turn to entertainment is that it can provide us with something more than real life.
Seamless is confusing
Transmedia projects tend to have huge bounce rates, much because people aren’t sure what they are seeing. Again; people need to know that they are facing great entertainment, because the step into the forums and chat rooms is too big.
The people that you do attract with the reality approach are people who have a real life interest in what you are making entertainment out of, and if they find find out about that only after digging around a bit, they are going to feel lied to. That generates what is known in the marketing- and PR sector as badwill.
Immersion does not require seamless
An ugly idea that springs up here and there is the notion that only ”geeks” will appreciate the fantastic or dare to immerse in it.
I could write another blog post just on alienating the geeks. I probably will, too - but for now, let’s just all agree that its bad. Bad karma, bad design, bad business.
In addition to this, the idea is wrong. It’s not easier to immerse in something that is close to reality. If you are playing an ARG and you keep wasting hours because you can’t find out if the website you found is related or not - you are likely to get sick of it pretty quick.
On the contrary; if your participants start chatting with someone who claim to be typing on a typewriter and there seems to be a few years of time difference between them - participants will feel much safer to immerse and act out on ideas and feelings that they might have.
Seamless is a bad excuse for creating bad content
I have seen editors spend days editing high quality footage to look like something that came out of a webcam from 1998 because the character that supposedly created the video only has a laptop or a phone to record with.
Since 1998, great progress has been made in technology. My phone and laptop records in HD! This was not just done because we could, no no! Studies have actually proved that people prefer watching good quality video better than watching bad quality video. How about that?
Even with a story set in the nineties and without my sarcasm - it is a terrible idea to make content look worse than it did before post-processing.
Feel free to throw in your favorite static- and super8-filters on your videos. Put survailence-camera stripes on your images - but do not add noise throughout a video because you think that it’s more realistic.
Roleplaying is not for everyone
Roleplaying takes time getting used to. Allow people their own level of participation. Let people play themselves. Should they use terms as ”game” or ”play” in a conversation with a character, don’t punish them.
It’s not entertaining to get punished for not knowing the rules of the game, and it’s very easy for puppet masters to look the other way when someone slips.
So that’s what I had to get off my chest. Now, take this with you when you go out there and create your next extraordinary, fantastic masterpiece. I know I will.
PS. Tweet me at @tomliljeholm if you want to discuss the post. I am all for critique and feedback!
We’ve gone and done it again. When I woke up this morning, the inbox was filled with congratulations. After I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I fired up facebook. Apparently also our latest project has been nominated for an Emmy award!
A very happy Tom Liljeholm and a (still sleeping) crew of Tea4Two miracle workers.
It is with delight that we present you with a video of Christopher Sandberg, creative head of our partnering company The Company P, giving some insight to our common productions Conspiracy for Good and The Truth about Marika.
We worked hard and long with both productions, and we are happy that it is now being shared with the world by the proxy of TED.
We are sneak launching the new website to make presentations available. This is not a final version of the website, so be patient with it and be aware that changes will be made to it continuously.
That said, please report any bugs you might find to firstname.lastname@example.org