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Transmedia Playbook

robert | June 27, 2014  ‐  No Comments

We’re delighted to release the first version of what we plan to be an ongoing work – the Transmedia Playbook.

The purpose of the book is to stimulate ideas and inspiration. It’s a small catalog of participatory transmedia storytelling experiences intended to remind, suggest, provoke and inspire creators.

Please help us by sending ideas and examples so that we might update it!

Immersion and space

robert | June 15, 2014  ‐  No Comments

ImmersionTransmedia storytellers will often include live events and real world actions in their experiences. As a company that wants to blur the boundary between fiction and reality, we spend a lot of time thinking how creators should tackle this.

The four-circle diagram showing space, goals, tactics and narrative is an info-graphic created from Hannah Rocha-Leite’s graduate dissertation in which she explores the research into what creates an immersive experience.

Some time ago I decided on a definition of engagement to mean “being in the moment”. That is, completely focused without distraction of other thoughts. Looking at the diagram we can see how these four components seek to occupy our minds and minimize distractions:

  • Space – control the environment so that it contributes to the experience and doesn’t distract
  • Narrative – give the space context so that we read things the right way. For example, a shop assistant is no longer a shop assistant but an undercover agent.. at least in our minds. She may not know she’s playing that role for us
  • Goal – the mind is occupied with the bigger picture, the purpose, the “how does this all fit together?” question
  • Tactics – the mind is occupied with the immediacy of the situation and possibly other sensory inputs like touch and sound. For example, watching a reenactment is cool but getting involved by chanting, shouting or, say, waving a flag gets the participant closer.

Of all these, Space can be the most problematic to control and related to this the portal or boundary between the real world and the fictional world. Compare, for example, the work of Secret Cinema and Punchdrunk‘s The Drowned Man. Secret Cinema experiences usually start out in the street around the entrance to the carefully selected building (the location selection for the last two events I’ve been has been spot on and I’m beginning to feel like they must find the location first and then ask what experience can we create around this place). It’s like the fictional world is spilling out into the street  – there’s a blurry boundary between fact and fiction. With Punchdrunk, I leave the street (where there is no evidence of what awaits) and then zigzag through a dark corridor or up an elevator. It’s a kind of like a diver’s pressure chamber that allows time for my mind and body to “normalize” to the fictional world and I feel like I’m leaving the real world behind.

For Canal+ we recently designed several live experiences in which the world of Game of Thrones was to come to Spain. Our fictional character, Edwyck, was to meet fans in the real world – in high streets and plazas and cinemas. But seeing a guy in costume doesn’t make an immersive experience! So one of our proposals were to erect a tent that looked like it belonged in that world and anyone wishing to meet Edwyck could step through the tent door to meet him. Hence our characters was “protected” from modern distractions like cars, neon lights etc. and the doorway provided a portal from the real to the fictional. Other proposal used pubs – a much better environment because we could convert them into medieval taverns. Using the pub sound system we could play our own fictional soundtrack to create the right atmosphere, we could use decoraons and potentially even smells.


From Transmedia LA, Hal Hefner’s recent live experience in the format of a cyber punk party, UNTHINKABLE COMPLEXITY   benefited from the darkness to obscure out-of-world distractions and maximized with with many people in costume – some LARPing – and in-world table items like documents, flyers and the fetus-in-jar lamp shown here.


Watch Dogs Location-based Game

robert | June 1, 2014  ‐  No Comments

watchdogsThis post discusses how to build a Watch Dogs-inspired location-based game using Conducttr, SMS and phone calls.

Note: the video is Rob developing an idea on the fly and you’ll see the mis-steps and retweaks as well as hear the thought process.


How its Played

Players find CCTV cameras around the city, text a unique code and watch pre-recorded video of a story unfolding at that location as seen by the CCTV camera.

To make things more interesting, players and actors wear armbands also with a unique code. Texting the armband code reveals “personal” information about that player or actor.
Some actors are agents of ctOS and will detect intrusions and disable access to the CCTV footage for 15 mins.

How You Make it

Do some location scouting, find a bunch of CCTV cameras and write a script for actors to play out within sight of the CCTV cameras. Use something like this to get the shots for cameras that are high up.

Then you’ll need either a map with the codes (location aware) or a map with cameras (location based). Players text the codes to unlock the content. In the case of the CCTV cameras it’s the scripted video.

For actors playing agents, some codes can lead to audio dramas of conversations that character has had with others or SMS “facts” or, if you have players register their phones and email you could send an email with a full written report.. maybe using the Watch Dogs inspired email template I created. It’s available at the forum.