Noah J Nelson on Friday, Oct. 19th
I’ve been trying to boil down the gestalt on this year’s StoryWorld Conference in Los Angeles, the take away for those who haven’t been here. After all, the in-jokes about #-ification and how “porn is the new transmedia” don’t really play all that well out of the room.
Although they do play great over Twitter. While you’re in the room.
The diversity of the audience and the speaker panels makes this conference so fascinating, but also almost completely impossible to condense into something that doesn’t sound like a breathless 12-year-old’s explanation of sleep-away camp. Screenwriter Damon Lindelof spoke at one of the first sessions, and since then there have been a parade of film producers, academics, novelists, Nordic LARP theatre artists… and even more off-beat professionals.
There have been the requisite arguments about the term transmedia… which remains the absolute most boring argument possible. At this point I’m sticking with the term– which covers the universe of experimental cross-platform storytelling techniques– out of sheer obstinacy. That and my penchant for trotting out my high school Latin whenever possible.
“Trans”, after all, is Latin for “beyond” or “across”. If I want the shortest possible word to describe what the hell is going on when a movie has its story intersected by a video game, menu descriptions on a food truck, and a Twitter feed then “transmedia” is it. Two syllables. Slightly more pretentious than “crossmedia”, giving it the gravitas of a term of art. I’ll take it.
What I can tell you without reservation are where some of the big conversations are happening.
Whether it is using the data collected as part of an immersive experience to further research, or the quest for new audience models data is on everyone’s mind. The later is a particularly high stakes area.
Turner Broadcasting’s Rhonda Lowry noted that “there are hard candy manufacturers with more real time measurement” than what the entertainment industry currently relies on. Think on that one for a while. Perhaps while enjoying a Werther’s Original.
A collaborative ethos has to engendered if you’re creating content that will spread across multiple platforms. Add to that the fact that one of the best signs of success is the birth of an audience that takes emotional ownership of the project.
How both the world of the story and the production team(s) creating that world are structured determines how well that property is going to be positioned to take advantage of the passion of fans, and the interest of potential partners.
As I write this Mike Knowlton of New York’s StoryCode is giving a breakdown of that organization’s forays into StoryHacks— events that take the hack-a-thon technique and apply it to creating transmedia projects. Projects like this are bringing together storytellers and technologists under the same roof to learn news ways of working together.
THE PLAY’S THE THING
There seems to be a lot of tension between the authorial/auteur instinct and the agency of the audience in immersive/interactive experiences. Multiple panels took on the issue of how to handle an engaged audience. This is a readily apparent issue in video games, especially story based games, but even in the realm of “old media” when you factor in fan-fiction.
There’s a lot of passion around this topic (you should have seen some of the Twitter backchannel chatter… wow), and if I had to put a finger on what the one hot topic is it would be on what is the best way to engage with the audience.