Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nine Inch Nails on a Red Right Hand telling a Story2oh to the Writerboy

It's days like these that I embrace the Scribosphere. By digitally connecting the dots one can see a storytelling epiphany about to happen (which is a good thing)

For those of you who don't know, let me give you the rundown:

Jill Golick's Story2oh project got kicked off of Facebook because part of FB's terms is that all their profiles have to be of real people (Ha!). This was after Jill made a presentation at CaseCamp -- a gathering of new media types to discuss the future.

There was a discussion (aka shouting match) here and here wherein all the new media people were saying that social nets like Facebook require "absolute transparency" because people were upset that they were "befriended" by characters who weren't real people, and want to be sure they aren't being used in some way.

It was all a real pisser because there was suddenly two camps: One that said that there must be transparency (mostly new media folk) , and the other camp that said that the story's the thing (the writers). The new media folks couldn't get past the "deception" aspect of what occurred, and the writers couldn't get past the fact that Facebook has rules regarding deceptive profiles which in essence hamstrings the idea of storytelling across profile pages.

Meanwhile, over in the corner of the blogosphere was Michael Patrick Sullivan posting over his love of Trent Reznor and the Nine Inch Nails Alternate Reality Game/Project YEAR ZERO. I read Michael's post and checked out Reznor's site.

And I was completely blown away by the scope and planning of it all. Year Zero is a Mission: Impossible made flesh (with a constantly remixed soundtrack courtesy of Reznor's licensing scheme). Real life goals and rewards and digital game-play enmeshed like my mamma's spaghetti on a Saturday night.

So it all comes together in my head and I email Denis and Jill and explain that the smoking gun is YEAR ZERO.

Thing is -- People became involved in Year Zero knowing absolutely nothing other than the whole thing was "cool." There was no transparency. In fact, I would go as far to say that it was all Mystery and Conspiracy and 100% Make-believe. It was all one big entertaining game, art project, marketing plan, concert promotion, exercise, political statement.

And the audience, the people who actually matter in this whole storytelling scheme of ours, they couldn't be happier.

So you new media types listen up: Trent Reznor is giving you the finger (with a pointy Nine Inch Nail on it) regarding transparency. Fuck transparency. Because really all that matters is the thing that goes all the way back to cave paintings and campfires:

It's always about entertaining the audience. Always.

For the creative folk : Alternate Reality Games (ARG's) are here to stay, folks. A new form of storytelling that embraces experience as well as plot and character. We won't, can't be just writers anymore if we want to compete in this arena. We have to be careful how we do it, who we do it with, and what the consequences will be if we screw it up.

And next up is this.

And this.

I want to see some ARG's geared to my interest though. I think the video promotion for Icon's KICK-ASS comic book may apply. What sort of stuff do you want to write/produce/create? Would you like to see clues to something intriguing in the next issue of Astonishing Adventures? Integrated video playlists from YouTube? An art contest? A costume contest? An event of some sort?

Speak up.


Roger Alford said...

I tried a little something like this with my latest story, The Undressed Widow," in Astonishing Adventures #3 (hint, hint). Definitely want to do more, but I haven't yet figured out what.

Clockworkjoe said...

ARGs are a fascinating field. The wikipedia entry on them is actually pretty informative, with an outline of the common design philosophy and a good history of the genre. I think the trick now is to figure out how to make money directly from an ARG instead of relying on a marketing budget from a corporation to pay for it.

Sean Hood said...

Great Post! And a mind blowing subject. I love imaginary profiles, alternate identities, fictional blogs and the ANONYMITY of the net. Fuck transparency indeed.

Jill Golick said...

I thought Year Zero was amazingly cool when it was going on and it influenced what I've done on the web tremendously. Thanks for pointing it out and also the web site with the case study.