17 Feb 2011

Live Online Virtual Entertainment

The rise of the Citizen Blogger has enabled all of us to own a bit of the press every time we hit “submit.” We are now actively engaged in updating our whereabouts, communicating volumes in 140 characters and sending images of what has just moved us. We actively post messages, links and family announcements. We do more, we are broadcasting our lives through the spectrum of Facebook and Twitter, blogs and forums. We have become closer as we have become digitally enabled. Participating in this medium which entertains and informs, we sometimes become the online content ourselves. We are used to seeing our names in online print now, it is a source of pride and sometimes accomplishment.

What if we can take this a step further and actually begin to participate in the medium of entertainment with a game for players competing for points. This is the next step in the Transmedia toolbox, the branding within the virtual world component, because as an avatar the player is more directly tied into the game. There are many massively multiplayer online role-playing games in the market, and ones within virtual worlds that reflect gaming style activity. Zattikka‘s upcoming Monty Python-branded Ministry of Silly Games social game will include features by the virtual world developer Dubit. This includes a narrative that ties it together as a social game in what would otherwise be a collection of mini-games.

Virtual worlds will generate $3.9 billion globally in revenue from subscription fees, in-game virtual goods sales, and third-party marketing by the end of 2011 the latest report Kzero has announced. Virtual worlds are clearly a force in the online competition for time, the new currency. How can entertainment be woven in more personally and become something of our own? Would viewer login entertainment be something people will try?

Wanting to do a game show in our 3D physical world is a bit more difficult. Board games that are home versions of popular TV shows have been a staple since Hopalong Cassidy inspired the first one in the 1950's. What used to be fun to play in the living room has evolved certainly. Games are still played but now with Wii, Xbox and PlayStations. Old TV shows didn't have a social TV network growing up around them. What we have now would have been inconceivable, as we have been advancing in our sophistication with media and messages. What we can do today surpasses all previous forms of correspondence. That we can implement our views, opinions, disgust, joy and personal moments means we are also shaping the landscape, and ready to jump to the next level.

Social TV & Connected TV are no longer just buzzwords, nor are they just another distribution platform for web content. They represent opportunity for people to become engaged with the program directly in two ways. One is by allowing people a text box to contribute to so people can play along. Another way is with avatar enabled shows and to actually join the audience. No need for a trip to Universal City to actually be there, and you can even send a private message to someone in the audience, or even the host. You can't send Letterman a text message. Perhaps you wouldn't but the point is that having a presence inside the show, making you part of it, is a step in entertainment with more potential than telling your friends what you are watching. Logging into a show of your interest, whether it be game, comedy or debate for example that was happening in real-time, will give people a way to join in immersively with an avatar.

What encourages me about the current landscape for viewer login entertainment in avatar form is Avatar Kinect and a recent participation in our own social entertainment. What could be more social than playing along with your friends in a very cool 3D environment? Avatar Kinect requires an XBOX, a Gold Membership and Kinect sensor. Virtual worlds offer a free approach to this, for example, Second Life is free. There are even virtual networks created by residents of Second Life. Avatar Kinect is great, but for variety of environment and being able to build whatever you want, get it built, what to wear, etc. – Second Life remains unparalleled.

This is a very cost effective platform too – a game show in real life can cost $90,000 to produce. The costs of producing in Second Life is a tenth to twentieth of that. This allows for a lot of experimentation with the genre. The ability to build and program point scoring, falling hearts and buzzers also makes this the platform of choice. As a next step in pro-active entertainment, this might be it.

6 Feb 2011

The Future Will See You Now

Recently, Dennis Shiao asked Pooky to Guest blog for his website.

Talking about how science has always been influenced by the arts, her comments reflect recent filmmaking with the release of Time Travelers 2.