Why So serious?
In the months leading up to Batman: The Dark Night release an alternate reality game attracted over 10 million players to a real time Gotham City. In the city the joker left his mark on posters and money notes and creating an army of henchmen all over the world. At a comic book convention called comicon they players gathered to take their first orders from the Joker. Working with other players online they searched to find clues, then suddenly jets appeared in the sky and a phone number appeared. Then the number was called a message was played saying: “If you want to be part of my crew you’re going to have to prove you’re up to the challenge”.
Players flocked to the streets dressed as their leader the Joker, this build excitement and anticipation for the release of the Dark Night. They also had to flock to landmarks dressed as the joker, there are photos of people doing this all over the world, in England, India etc. People even picked up cakes at local backers that had a phone inside them, this meant that they could keep in contact with Gotham City.
In the week of the Dark Night premier hundreds of people flocked to the streets in New York city, they were sent there by clues they had found not knowing what to expect, then suddenly they saw the bat signal on the side of a building, the signal was defaced in front of everyone’s eyes. This transmedia experience was done in over 75 countries and had a huge impact on the release of the movie.
This really inspired me in the events i could have in my story, i think audience participation is the key element in keeping people interested and taking things to the next level. I also thought it was amazing how large the scale was of people playing and the lengths they went to.
A woman named Esther Robinson was going to see Head Trauma, as she approached the cinema she noticed that all the payphones were ringing, then outside the cinema was a preacher handing out apocalyptic comic books to passers by, he pressed one into her hand as she passed.
The opening credits prompted the audience to send a text to a given number and as the film rolled they all started to receive strange text messages.
The film was about a drifter who inherits his mother’s house and starts to lose his mind. The next day, back in Brooklyn, Robinson found the comic in her handbag. On the back was written: “Do you want to play a game?”, along with an address, headtraumamovie.com.
She typed it in to her computer. What she found was an online game that continued the story. “In the middle of it, the phone rang,” she says. She recognised the voice. It was the film’s “hooded villain”. He started asking questions: “Do you feel guilty? Have you ever lost consciousness?” Last, he asked Robinson to tell him her darkest secret. Her answer started playing back on a loop through her computer speakers. Robinson clicked on the exit box. She kept clicking, but nothing happened. Her phone buzzed with a text: “Where are you going? We’re not finished yet…” At that point, Robinson was dumped into a conference call with other cinema goers who had just gone through the same experience.
Unwittingly she had just participated in an emerging form of mainstream entertainment. The director of Head Trauma Lance Weiler had programmed software to make all the payphones on the block ring and the preacher was an actor in the movie. Based on the participants’ responses to the automated phone calls, audio and video launched on the desktop screen. The exit box was a fake. Clicking on it sent that last text. For Weiler, a 41-year-old New Yorker, the experience “demonstrated the fluidity of an audience.
To me the above story seems a little crazy and out of this world, well that is what i thought the first time i found out about it but in doing my research i have found out that there are many more out there like this.
Heroes had its own transmedia department at NBC, to manage new opportunities and to try to keep the writers’ stamp on every new project. At the same time, working this way is as crucial to the business as to the art.
In the off season and the on season fans of Heroes could go on the website and view exclusive online content where the show leaves off.
In keeping with season two original Heroes graphic novels explore the various legacies on the online characters. The weekly graphic novels were presented as animated multimedia experiences, as well as being able to view them online you could also view them on your mobile phone as well.
Fans of the show could also follow the real actors as they went on tour via video updates articles and photos on the website.
NBC then launched Heroes Evolutions which was a digital portal for its fans, the registered to it online and were able to receive emails, phone calls and text updates from on air characters.
Yamagato fellowship in an effort to preserve histories greatest heroes they launched a five part documentary where fans could experience Takezo Kensei myths. They could watch 3D animations with commentary, this was all for the introduction to the character in season 4.
Shortly before the season premier, online fans were introduced to the return of a character called Hana Gitelman. Hana hacked into the final instalment of Sword Saint the Takezo Kensei myths and challenged fans to investigate mysterious deaths in South America; this was in preparation for another storyline in the following season between another two characters.
Hana also invited fans in an online investigation to discover her past generations where she would provide clues in a kind of treasure hunt to find her mysterious uncle.
There was a two screen experience which invited users to interact with the show while it was on and also test their own knowledge with various polls and trivia.
Fans were also able to participate and contribute to the programme, for instance they were invited to post about their dreams online and some of them were made into graphic novels, they were also invited to make their own video mashups, create a hero of their own that could appear in online webisodes.
There was a lot of work into making Heroes the experience that it was, but how do you know that it is going to work every time, an that fans are going to acknowledged all the features that are available?
I don’t think that you can always be certain things are going to be a success; however the most important thing to remember is that without a compelling narrative then it could be a waste of time.
Tim Kring who is the creator of Heroes explains that it worked so well for the show because they have the theme of mythology and so it is easy to open up a larger world for the shows fans.
It is important for fans to be up to date with things that are happening and so it compels them to dig deeper and find out more information about the storyline and its characters.