‘Some Things I’ve Learned about Transmedia Worldbuilding’ for Meanland

Article commissioned by Meanland (Meanjin & Overland Literary Journals). I wrote it about ‘Some Things I’ve Learned about Transmedia Worldbuilding‘.

“If you’re playing transmedia bingo, ‘worldbuilding’ scores 10 points and one of those little jelly desserts from the kitchen. It is a term used by just about every transmedia evangelist, and me in the early days. Indeed, it seems a rite of passage for transmedia practitioners and commentators alike. There is a reason for this: it is a helpful metaphor for understanding and communicating that a transmedia project involves many stories and media — there is a whole ecology operating.

Of course, ‘worldbuilding’ has been around longer than transmedia, and is employed in many different ways. Some invoke ‘worldbuilding’ to describe the use of multiple media forms, especially ‘immersive’ ones like ‘virtual reality’. Buzzwords ahoy! But what this article focuses on is worldbuilding for writers and designers at the development stage, and especially two types of worldbuilding in transmedia: expandability and believability.”

‘TEST TEST TEST Transmedia’ for In Media Res

Invited contribution to Elizabeth Strickler’s (Georgia State University) curated theme of ‘Transmedia Now’ for In Media Res:

In this 1972 documentary, The Computer Generation, by John Musilli, artist Stan Vanderbeek talks about the possibility of computers as an artist tool. My aim with drawing on this documentary is to compare the current state of transmedia with previous significant changes in media history, to illustrate how the current state of transmedia is quite diverse.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 10.30.37 am

‘Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games’ for Convergence

convergenceThis paper introduces an emerging form of participatory culture, one that is not a modification or elaboration of a primary producer’s content. Instead, this paper details how the artifacts created to ‘play’ a primary producer’s content has become the primary work for massive global audiences. This phenomenon is observed in the genre of alternate reality games (ARGs) and is illustrated through a theory of ‘tiering’. Tiers provide separate content to different audiences. ARG designers tier their projects, targeting different players with different content. ARG player-production then creates another tier for non-playing audiences. To explicate this point, the features that provoke player-production — producer-tiering, ARG aesthetics and transmedia fragmentation — are interrogated, alongside the character of the subsequent player-production. Finally, I explore the aspects of the player-created tiers that attract massive audiences, and then posit what these observations may indicate about contemporary artforms and society in general.

(2008) ‘Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games‘, Henry Jenkins and Mark Deuze (Eds) special issue on ‘Convergence Culture’ in Convergence Journal: International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol 14, No 1, pp: 41-57.

‘Playing the Moon: Christy Dena on the Fate of New Media Art’ for Real Time Arts

Commissioned review/article on the panel ‘What happened to new media art?’ chaired by Darren Tofts at the 4th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment.

ON THE LAST DAY OF THE FOURTH AUSTRALASIAN CONFERENCE ON INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT AT RMIT IN MELBOURNE DARREN TOFTS CHAIRED A PANEL DISCUSSION THAT BROUGHT TOGETHER A SMALL GROUP OF PRACTITIONERS, CURATORS, EDUCATORS, ACADEMICS AND CRITICS—SHIRALEE SAUL, PHILIP BROPHY, MARCIA JANE AND MYSELF—TO DISCUSS “WHAT HAPPENED TO NEW MEDIA ART?”

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.18.03 pm

‘Online Augmentation to Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games’ for Convergence

An essay and accompanying minisite about different layers of player interaction in ARGs. The minisite is an online augmentation of an essay published in the Feb 2008 issue (vol 14, no 1) of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (which is available in hardcopy and online). My essay, ‘Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games’ is in the special issue edited by Henry Jenkins and Mark Deuze on ‘Convergence Cultures’.

This paper introduces an emerging form of participatory culture, one that is not a modification or elaboration of a primary producer’s content. Instead, this paper details how the artifacts created to ‘play’ a primary producer’s content has become the primary work for massive global audiences. This phenomenon is observed in the genre of alternate reality games (ARGs) and is illustrated through a theory of ‘tiering’. Tiers provide separate content to different audiences. ARG designers tier their projects, targeting different players with different content. ARG player-production then creates another tier for non-playing audiences. To explicate this point, the features that provoke player-production — producer-tiering, ARG aesthetics and transmedia fragmentation — are interrogated, alongside the character of the subsequent player-production. Finally, I explore the aspects of the player-created tiers that attract massive audiences, and then posit what these observations may indicate about contemporary artforms and society in general.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 10.33.57 am

Anti-Hoaxing Strategies and the TINAG Fallacy

hope

A few days ago I published a post highlighting one possible reason why alternate reality games are perceived as hoaxes by some, and posited one strategy to circumvent the problem. The point seemed to caused a little confusion, as some thought I was saying that all the content and marketing should be targeted to the ARG community only. [Steve was right, this would be quicker over a beer at a conference.] To be clear, that is not how I see a launch operates in any scenario. Launches require putting lots of content out into different communities of interest. My point was that a work that looks indistinguishable from real content would benefit from having a community that identifies it as fiction early in the launch process. That is: to target the ARG community in the first wave. Whether other communities are targeted at the same time or slightly after is a design approach relative to the creator — but the point is to include an ARG community early.

But, since focusing on one strategy in isolation is evidently not the most effective approach, I will step back and look at the bigger picture. One of the issues with ARGs is that they are often referred to as hoaxes, and sometimes (rarely) experienced as hoaxes. So my questions have been:

1) Are ARGs hoaxes?
2) Why are ARGs referred to hoaxes?
3) Why are some ARGs experienced as a hoax?
4) Why is it most ARGs not experienced as hoaxes?

And here are the answers:

Continue reading

‘Patterns in Cross-Media Interaction Design: It’s Much More Than a URL’ for Proceedings of 1st International Conference on Crossmedia Interaction Design

Content can be repurposed, adapted and stretched across platforms. A story can start in one medium and finish in another. How are audiences moved between platforms, and how can one make this traversal a part of the entertainment experience itself? This paper provides an introduction to multi-platform and multi-format entertainment and then outlines the factors that influence cross-media interaction design. What is to be considered when designing for movement between platforms? How are audiences moved between platforms? What influences the choice of traversal? Critical factors will be listed, as a first step towards developing patterns in cross-media interaction design. This first step is a primer for part two, which will be delivered at a conference.

[PDF] (2007) ‘Patterns in Cross-Media Interaction Design: It’s Much More Than a URL‘, Proceedings of 1st International Conference on Crossmedia Interaction Design, 22-25 March, Hemavan, Sweden, pp: 4-10. [Note: this paper is just a primer for my keynote speech]

Note: I am currently developing a Cross-Media Design Kit drawing on these insights and more I have discovered over the years.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.14.21 am