Today’s blog is a response to an article by Keith Stuart in Wednesday’s Guardian Newspaper called ‘Just who is playing who in ARGs?’
ARGs or Alternative Reality Games are the hot new entertainment format right now. In short they are ‘experiences’, games or I’d argue ‘shows’ that are played via websites, text messages, phone calls and other platforms.
To roughly paraphrase Keith’s argument, ARGs are hot right now, and they are being used by companies to create or initialise communities, and then advertise to them. However they are often doing so crudely and so in turn, turning off a potential audience who simply chose not to engage.
The solution is simple and I can be blunt. It’s me. Well, me and people like me.
This is a new and exciting arena, but it’s now breaking out from the ‘underground’ with an increasingly mainstream audience, using recognisable formats (see Kate Modern on Bebo, my post: Is Bebo the new ITV?; The Kate Modern Story).
ARG still, as a generalisation are made by people who come from some kind of technical background, with a few who come from conceiving games. I was actually shocked when I went to websites associated with 2 companies in this field who boast about their technical prowess. I can’t imagine going to an ITV productions, or an RDF website where they boast ‘we’re good with cameras and edit suites’. Is it too harsh for me to say I feel like they are slightly off target?
These ‘entertainments’ are also often commissioned by Advertisers, and the projects likely go through business development, straight into the hands of the ‘craftsmen’ without the help of those used to creating hit entertainment.
The link that seems to be missing to me is that of the ‘Producer’ (or even creatively led production houses/studios) – the creative visionary that is not just the person who oversees the projects, but someone who has knowledge and experience of the audience, who understands multiple forms of disciplines; narratives, resolutions, mainstream engagement, advertiser needs and concerns, the art of balancing and prioritising criteria etc. That to me says TV, theatre, radio, cinema as well as web. Ultimately web has been a 'flat' 2d environment, but web 2.0 is a lot more like, well TV.
I don’t believe X Factor, the current Doctor Who or Buffy would be the hits they have without the steering hands of their Producers, be that Simon Cowell or a Russell T Davies.
Just because old hands like me have worked in ‘traditional’ TV, a lot of us do ‘get’ the new paradigm and have the skills, knowledge and experience that will help these new genres flourish. Ultimately we are all talking to the same audience.
Maybe I should set up a new cross-platform creatively led studio. Anyone fancy joining me?