AOL and Mark Burnett Productions have teamed to create an “online reality show” called Gold Rush! [cue long echo]. The reality show will have real people searching for US$1.6 million in prizes (gold?) that has been delivered by armoured trucks to 13 hidden locations around the US. Players are to try to find the money by searching through clues left on AOL sites, MapQuest, Moviefone and AIM. They will also be providing short 5 minutes clips on AOL, bits for mobile phones and leaving clues in other network programming. They will use real-world tie-ins, such as referring to a peice that has already been created for something else, but gathering a clue from it. This is a good technique that the Lost producers have used [see my post: Seek & Find Art]. They will be publising the production through TV, broadband, print & mobile platforms. Here is a nice quote for us CME fiends: “Burnett said the cross-platform approach was just as important as the program’s premise.” [Yahoo News, Jan 31]
Their motivation is based on their experience with previous reality shows where viewers spent alot of time online searching for more content about the show, and Mark was perhaps familiar with the idea from his time spent with Yahoo. It seems some more key TV people have figured out what many of us have been saying for a while:
“The world is changing and the Internet is about to become the next broadcast network,” Burnett said. “With the volume of people able to watch content on their computers between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it could very well become the new primetime.” [Yahoo News, 31st Jan]
Yahoo have apparently employed Steven Spielberg to develop Treasure Hunt. But Burnett is also developing a “spy-hunt game” for Yahoo: The Runner. [CBC Arts, Jan 31]
These are very similiar to the style of game that has been developing over the years, that I have spoken about a few hundred times: ARGs. But is this genre of search fiction, search art, of pull entertainment, of “search operas” as 42 Entertainment call them that is a big part of the entertainment experience these days. What is hard about these events is that we have two contradictory elements at play: 1) the global access stage of the Net; 2) the need for actual live events for players to interact with each other and receive tangible rewards. So many of these events are made for players in the US and UK. 🙁 There needs to be some way to give tangibility to everyone. Oh, I know, books! Geez, how many times do I have to say that fixed media isn’t dead? Anyway, the performance element is important too, but doing with worldwide takes money, or at least organisation.