Cross-Media Christmas Gift Ideas

Apologies for the lateness of this post — I’ve been snowed under in tropical Australia. 🙂

For your holiday pleasure, I’ve put together a listing of ‘Cross-Media Christmas’ gift ideas of goods that came out in 2007. The following are not only cross-media (they’re transmedia & 360 etc) and they’re not only for Christmas, but the alliteration sounds good.

CROSS-MEDIA BABIES

Tiny Love’s DVD MAGIQâ„¢
For babies 3-36months, Tiny Love’s DVD with specially integrated toy looks like a great pressie. What I find especially interesting is the language used in the product sheet. The arguments put forward about the functions of this cross-media product are almost exactly the same rhetoric for those in cross-media entertainment in general. Here is a snippet:

The MAGIQâ„¢ lies within the special triangle formed by baby, doll and media. Baby no longer stares passively at the screen, but looks aside at her friend the doll, pondering its reactions, and causing her to explore her own feelings and react proactively to the stimuli on the screen. The experience here becomes a multi-directional and dynamic interaction between the DVD content, baby and doll. This experience is Active Viewing. The result: Baby is stimulated on a much deeper level, and has a richer and more holistic experience. The Active Viewing experience that DVD MAGIQâ„¢ provides engages baby on a higher intellectual, emotional and social plain and encourages genuine interaction. [source]

CROSS-MEDIA TEENS

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight
The novel is delivered rotating between the POVs of the characters Joel and Cat, and is linked by their tandem storytelling assignment. The writers, Nick and Rebecca, also wrote the story in a tandem storytelling style, and readers can also participate in the tandem storyelling assignment by submitting story threads on the website or via SMS. I posted about this here.

OTHER CROSS-MEDIA BOOKS

Raw Shark Texts
Steven Hall’s book, Raw Shark Texts, was launched with special content on the website and had a small ARG surrounding the launch. I posted about it here.

CROSS-MEDIA TV

Twin Peaks
The beginning of it all, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks came out this year in the Definitive Gold Box Edition. You’ll have to buy the feature film and books separately though.

Heroes
NBC’s Heroes exploded from the TV with Heroes Evolutions (Heroes 360 Experience) and graphic novels. You can buy the season one DVD, but you can’t buy the comic that is in the TV series (9th Wonders) (although they did give copies away to fans, the fact that you cannot buy this comic is IMHO a very big missed merchandising opportunity). You can buy the comics that are part of Evolutions though.

Lost
The complete season three of Lost is now available on DVD. ABC’s Lost TV show had of course the The Lost Experience, a book and numerous websites that expanded beyond the episodes. I posted about The Lost Experience when it first started here.

Jericho
During September 1996, CBS launched Beyond Jericho the day after the pilot aired on TV. The webisode series was to follow different characters than those in the series. Only one webisode aired however. But in October the same year a new webisode, Countdown, began. Countdown (Oct/…) was published during the nine-week hiatus. It is a prequel to the events in the TV series. It has only one character from the main series, Robert Hawkins, and follows his research about nuclear bombs before moving to Jericho. In 2007, the first season was made available on DVD.

CSI: NY
In 2007, the complete third season was released on DVD. It includes episode 4, ‘Hung Out to Dry’, which includes real life websites and the ARG t-shirt company EDOC Laundry. So you can buy the DVD (or individual episode) and the t-shirts featured in the series (which are also part of their own ARG).

The Office
October 2007 (perhaps earlier) NBC put up a fictional company website for The Office: Dunder Mifflin Infinity. Mid 2006, between season 2 and 3, they also put out a webisode: The Office: The Accountants. You can buy the DVD and the game that was released in Nov 2007 as well.

Ghost Whisperer
In March 2007, CBS’ Ghost Whisperer: The Other Side webisode provides a shift of point-of-view from the TV series as it is told from the perspective of a ghost, Zach. Eight webisodes were netcast. Slam Internet Productions produced an online graphic novel for Ghost Whisperer, titled Spirit: The Ghost Whisperer . It was edited by Ron Frenz and is available for download in PDF form. The graphic novel is a flashback to the character Melinda Gordan’s school days as a cheerleader, prefiguring the release of the ‘Mean Girls’ TV episode which was broadcast on 9th Feb 2007. The complete second season DVD includes the webisodes.

Skins
From January 2007, after each television episode of Channel 4’s Skins is aired on their pay-TV channel E7, an episode that elaborates on events is released on the web in Unseen Skins. Two extra episodes not published online are supplied in the DVD of the first season.

Firefly
Joss Whedon’s Firefly TV series continued in webisodes, comics and a feature film. A Collector’s Edition of the feature film, Serenity, was released this year and includes the webisodes. You can Buy the comics and TV series on DVD and you’re set!

My Name is Earl
In May 2007, for a special episode of NBC’s My Name Is Earl, ‘Get A Real Job,’ viewers could participate in ‘the first ever “Laugh ‘n Sniff” interactive episode’. Whilst watching the show, viewers were prompted to scratch the special boxes supplied on the scent card in TV Guide. The scents included a ‘new car smell’ for a blow-up doll. So, if you get the episode, ‘Get a Real Job’ through iTunes and an old copy of the TV Guide — you’ve got a replayable simultaneous media experience that is alot of fun. Indeed, this episode was one of the year’s highlights for me. MNiE also has a blog and has done lots of interesting things with fans. I posted about the ‘Laugh ‘n Sniff’ episode here.

CROSS-MEDIA FILM

Late Fragment
This Canadian interactive film by Daryl Cloran, Anita Doron, Mateo Guez, Anita Lee & Ana Serrano, Late Fragment, is the first interactive dramatic feature in North America. It was Vjeed live is available on DVD.

Head Trauma
Lance Weiler’s feature film Head Trauma was, in cross-media exploration terms, the stand-out cross-media project for 2007. It included both a cinema ARG, ARG (Hope is Missing), interactive graphic novel and many other online explorations. YOu can buy the Head Trauma DVD at Lance’s online store, get it VOD through portals such as Amazon UnBoxed and Xbox Movies, or even a DVD bundle with The Last Broadcast — the first integrated feature film & website project. I posted about Head Trauma here and here.

Pirates of the Carribean
Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End Collector’s Edition came out in 2007. Pirates of course has a long history, beginning as a ride at Disneyland and includes projects such as the 2006 online interactive adventure: Dead Man’s Tale. Worthy of note too, is the specially-crafted book that came out in 2007: The Secret Files of the East India Trading Company. This book is set after the events of the third film, and is written in the style of ARG-like Cathy’s Book: written incharacter with bits that fall out of the pages. Respected imagineer Jim Hill reviews the book created by Becker & Mayer.

The Host
In 2007, Magnolia Films commissioned ARG Studios to create an ARG for Bong Joon Ho’s The Host . The ARG, Monster Hunt Club, helped market the release of the Korean film in the US. The DVD was released July this year.

Southland Tales
Richard Kelly, the director of Donnie Darko, brought out his cross-media project that combines a feature film, experiential website, and graphic novels.

CROSS-MEDIA MUSIC

Year Zero
Earlier this year Trent Reznor expanded the music experience to an alternate reality game: Year Zero. Though the game has finished, you can still go through most of the sites and read the still-active community posts, and buy the music in digital and/or CD form.

American Girl Posse
Tori Amos’ album American Girl Posse features five different characters, each of which have their own blog: Clyde, Isabel, Tori, Santa, Pip. So, you can read the blogs and then hear the characters sing on the CD.

CROSS-MEDIA GAMING

World of Warcraft
You can buy a subscription to the World of Warcraft MMORPG and the comics have begun to be sold.

The Lord of the Rings Online
2007 saw the release of the Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, a highly regarded online game that is set in the LOTR universe. You can give a subscription to this continuation of the LOTR experience.

CROSS-MEDIA DONATIONS
And then of course there is the trend of using the money you would to buy someone a gift and donating it to a charity, cause or community of their behalf. Here are a couple of cross-media related communities ideas:

  • Donate to the Unfiction Unforums, the community where most ARGs and most transmedia works are played
  • Donate to Networked Performance, a blog that has for the last few years been sharing information about all forms of networked performance, locative arts and games, along with Turbulence, and important organisation that funds networked performances. They need $25,000 by Dec 31st in order to keep going, and ask for a mere $5 pledge. More info on the fundraising.

CROSS-MEDIA THEORY
As for theory or design books…There have been no books dedicated to cross-media that have come out this year. There have been plenty of books out about Heroes and Lost etc, but none of them feature any substantial information about their extended experiences. There are two publications, however, that aren’t academic books (they’re written by academics & designers for general readers) that may be of interest:

  • Kristin Thompson’s The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood. Check out the blog for more info.
  • The edited collection of Space Time Play: Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: The Next Level. In this collection ARG and pervasive game designers & theorists contributed lots of short entries (including me). Check out the main site.

Anyway, that is a quick list of some gifts you can buy for a cross-media fan. They do not include all the cross-media projects that happened in 2007, and not all of them are good, but the list is nevertheless fun. Let me know if you have some suggestions too.

I look forward to 2008 — there are some great projects coming out, and I’ll have my PhD finished. Very, very exciting.

All the best,
Christy

ETC@USC’s Anytime/Anywhere Content Lab

ATAW

Now this is something I find interesting. The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (with big entertainment industry sponsors such as Disney, LucasFilms, NBCUniversal, Fox, Sony, Paramount) are building an ‘Anytime/Anywhere Content Lab’ (AACL). The overview:

The AACL will showcase a wide spectrum of leading edge products, services and technologies in action. It will use these tools to examine the technological and sociological implications of providing content to consumers who desire it at anytime, on any device, anywhere they happen to be. The Lab’s activities will advance the interests of all industry stakeholders, especially content producers and distributors, network providers, electronics manufacturers, hardware and software companies, service providers and consumers.

The lab research questions:

1. Understanding the Consumer – What are consumer expectations for the integrated digital home and for content on the go? What new attributes and features will consumers find valuable? How can we begin to illustrate tomorrow’s consumer demands and usage patterns, today

2. Digital Delivery – How will consumer demand shape the delivery of digital content, whether by pipe (terrestrial TV, cable, satellite, broadband) or by physical media (DVD, solidstate memory, portable devices)?

3. Managing Content – How will content be moved from device to device and from server to device? How can access to content be made seamless, yet still support commercial transactions and a range of consumer usage options?

4. Identifying Synergies – What are the potential areas for cross-industry collaboration to create new product offerings and to provide greater choice and enjoyment to consumers?

Boy, I would love to get in there are trial specially-designed stories and games for such a media-integrated environment. Indeed, my intention at the beginning of my PhD research was to do user-testing of cross-media stories I had created…but I just ran out of time. It is great to see this sort of thing happening though: a lab for the next generation of technologists and creators.

Jane is looking for a puppet-master!

Pervasive game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal, has put a call out for a puppet-master (an alternate reality game designer) to work on a project. Here is her call:

Help me find the next great puppet masters!

I’ve caught wind of an amazing opportunity for someone who is bilingual and who would like to get hands-on experience as an alternate reality game puppet master.

This paid, part-time position is for a “jr. puppet master” and “community leader” on a very big, professionally produced alternate reality game. The work is entirely online and can be done on a flexible schedule from anywhere in the world.

This kind of position is just about the best way to break into ARGs there is.

Being a jr. puppet master comes with a lot of creative responsibility, including writing and online performance. It also invovles the amazingly fun challenge of interacting with players via email (and sometimes in real life!) and overseeing forums and blogs for a large online player community. Also, this particular position would also entail lots and lots of close mentoring from a very experienced ARG designer.

The only catch: the puppet master must be either a native speaker of (or near-native fluent in) Japanese or Mandarin Chinese, with English as their second (or first) language.

It’s also possible that the position could be modified for native speakers of other languages (parlez vous francais? Você fala português?) so if you or someone you know might be a terrific bilingual jr. puppet master, go ahead and email me.

Sadly, I know that the bilingual requirement won’t apply to most of the up-and-coming puppet masters out there. But… if this describes you or anyone you know, I think this would be a really cool project and a great chance to make a name for yourself in the ARG world.

So drop me a line or send potential candidates my way! I have a more detailed job description to pass along and can make all the introductions necessary.

(Email me at [my first name] @ [the name of this blog] .com)

I really, wholeheartedly recommend this opportunity — so if you are game, let me know!

Jane’s call on her blog