IST paper here

Here is a pdf of the paper I’ve contributed to Monique de Haas’ Cross Media Networking Session at IST titled: ‘Current State of Cross Media Storytelling: Preliminary observations for future design’
and the powerpoint is now online too.

What is it about Bees?

A colleague and friend, Russell Fewster, forwarded an article that he thought I may find interesting: Mahonen, S. (2004) ‘Should “Bee” a Winner’, Stonnington Leader, Melbourne,13. And I did find it interesting…depressing…and encouraging…

A MALVERN author is at the forefront of a new style of writing for young adults.
Sarah Boland’s new novel To love Veronica Bee is the first book to be produced in the “pop fiction” genre.
“Pop fiction is more than just reading,” Ms Boland, 32, said.
“It’s about having a website of animated art and interactive games that goes with the book. The book is just one element of a very large project. You have to read the book to understand the website.”

Mmm…sounds like cross media to me. Actually, it’s what I call ‘transfiction’! Here is how Boland describes ‘pop fiction’ on her website:

  • Pop Fiction is more than just reading.
  • ItÂ’s about young people using multimedia to make art thatÂ’s related to a selected book.
  • You can use the storyÂ’s characters, plot, themes, issues, symbols, even important words to create your own Pop Fiction creations.
  • After making your Pop Fiction you get to star on the Pop Fiction website.
  • Even if you arenÂ’t a Pop Fiction star yet, you can still check out the Pop Fiction site and play online games, watch animation, check out artwork, interact with multimedia, listen to music, meet young and emerging artists and multimedia makers, plus heaps more!
  • Everything on is made by young people.
  • They have read the book To love Veronica Bee, developed ideas for their artwork and/or multimedia, created their masterpiece and then posted it onto the website.
  • Some of the artwork and multimedia is dead-set wicked, some of it makes you laugh hard enough to spray milk out of your nose (thatÂ’s what John Barton said happened to him), some stuff is kinda related to the book and other stuff is really really related to the book — one thing is for sure though, its all gets posted for everyone to experience.
  • If you think reading is boring, then check out Pop Fiction! Or if you love books and canÂ’t seem to get enough of them, Pop Fiction will take books to a whole new level!

If you check out the website that goes with the book you’ll see the references to the book and how kids are participating with the site. This is very encouraging as I see the design of cross media needing to include the avenue for consumer participation. The narrative is not just ‘authored’ by the original designers but by the consumers as well.

I’m excited by this work and also glum because the idea is getting out long before I’ll get my work out (I’m writing a novel that is meant to be read in conjunction with a website where you can chat with the characters live). But, it is sooo goood to see a cross media work with a book in it! Gee, I am flabbergasted as to why more people aren’t doing it (I guess the time it takes is a factor!). Books are the most intensive immersive device we have. They are the perfect foundation for a cross media work that wants distribution and longevity.

Boland’s book is a great leap in the direction of ‘transfiction’ but it isn’t quite transfiction: I define it as multi-channel single-story creation. That is: one story told over more than one media.

The Beast and Bees are 42

The Cloudmakers have been anticipating a Beast-like advertising campaign as the Halo 2 launch drew closer. A post to their email list has confirmed that a site: I Love Bees has the same Beast crew and researcher Jane McGonigal on board. There has been plenty of bee activity it seems on sites like unfiction; an archive of the events during the campaign tells all (if you can figure it out!).

The Beast team have their own company, offering their services creating and producing what they term ‘search operas’ in 4orty 2wo Entertainment

We tell our stories in the form of “search operas” — narratives that spill off the page, the screen, the web, the phone–and into peoples’ lives. We don’t send an advertising message into the maelstrom of other competing messages: we reverse-engineer the process, so that the consumer comes looking for our campaign and our client’s product. We create communities passionately committed to spending not just their money but their imaginations in the worlds we represent.

This form of storytelling or game play — otherwise known as ‘pervasive play’, ‘unfiction’, ‘alternate reality gaming’ — is a model of cross media storytelling. I don’t find it a surprise that they do so well considering their emphasis on the consumer’s ‘imagination’ and the description of it being a ‘narrative’. This is just my point about how GOOD cross media design needs to be story and storyworld driven. But more about this in my paper for IST.

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