A van is careening down a winding road, followed in close pursuit by a police car, sirens blaring. The passenger of the van, Ben Wilkins, urgently questioned by the driver (not named in the chapter but later on we find out his name is “Charles”), swears he doesn’t know why they’re chasing him or what they want, but mentions “a package” back at his apartment. Charles tells Ben to connect his phone to the laptop in the van, where he’ll give Ben “a Jack app” to buy him time to get back to his place and grab the package, and so that he can contact Ben afterwards. A policeman leans out of the police cruiser’s passenger window and starts to shoot at the van…
Daybreak 2012, a transmedia webseries by Tim Kring (Heroes, Conspiracy for Good), launched on May 31st with the release of the first of 5 weekly chapters of the webseries on Daybreak2012.com. Along with the Daybreak 2012 website, the Jack Boxers app was also released for both the iPhone and Android smartphones, along with an accompanying website, We Are The Jack Boxers. The purpose of both the app and the website is to enlist help for the cause of the Jack Boxers, who are fighting the forces of darkness and bringing the Truth to light.
The Truth, according to the Jack Boxers, is essential to many things – sacred geometry, energy and vibration, the works of Fibonacci and Tesla – but most importantly, the dodecahedron. In the final few episodes of Touch, the dodecahedron (or “doda”) played a major role in the mythology of the show, and that mythology is carried over into Daybreak. However, while both Daybreak and Touch exist in the same “universe”, the doda is the only common thread between the two stories.
For the second year in a row, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show hosted a panel of transmedia luminaries to discuss the state of the industry. This year’s panel, Transmedia: Telling the Story through Narrative Content, Games and Real-World Adventures was hosted by Henry Jenkins (Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California, and author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide) and included Jeff Gomez (President and CEO, Starlight Runner Entertainment), Kim Moses (Executive Producer/Director, Sander/Moses Productions and Slam Internet), Gale Anne Hurd (Executive Producer, The Walking Dead; President, Valhalla Motion Pictures), Danny Bilson (Executive Vice President of Core Games, THQ, Inc.), and Tim Kring (Transmedia Storyteller, Conspiracy for Good, Heroes).
Jenkins started the panel with a definition of transmedia from his book as a starting point for discussion amongst the panelists:
Transmedia Storytelling represents a process by which narrative information is systematically dispersed across multiple media channels for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.
Jenkins asserted that the difference between transmedia and other methods is “that each element adds something vital to the mix as a whole” and “expand[s] the canvas on which storytellers work within the entertainment industry.”
Image courtesy of stevecadman
This past May, Tim Kring launched Conspiracy for Good, and as the summer comes to a close, the events of the past few months are coming to a head for one final event this weekend in London. If you can make it to Bloomsbury Square Gardens in London on August 7, register to play now, and this article should get you up to speed with what you need to know to join in the adventure.
Conspiracy for Good can best be described as an amalgamation of an alternate reality game, a street theater show, and a social movement. Players have been charged with the task of bringing down Blackwell Briggs, an evil global security firm with a penchant for kidnapping and skullduggery. Players willing to risk attracting Blackwell Briggs’ ire joined up with the Conspiracy for Good, an organization of socially-minded individuals committed to opposing the company’s excess.
Using a series of free mobile games available at Nokia’s Ovi Store, players were given the opportunity to hack into the Babbage 1.6.1 website to extract valuable pieces of intelligence, break into the Blackwell Briggs servers, and hack a series of CCTV cameras across London to help smuggle Nadirah, a key Conspiracy for Good member seeking to build a library for children in Zambia, into the city. The final mobile game lead to the next stage of Conspiracy for Good: a series of four live “Actions” occuring weekly in London. Participants at each Action are provided with a Nokia phone with pre-installed software to help complete the task.
In the summer of 2008, Tim Kring and Christopher Sandberg were discussing the future of transmedia and community-based entertainment, standing on top of Isaac Mendez’ iconic post-apocalyptic tableau painted on the floor of the Heroes soundstage. As a result of that conversation, The Company P signed on to help produce Conspiracy for Good, a large-scale movement with alternate reality gaming elements. Kring had previously pitched the concept for Conspiracy for Good to Nokia. The movement will play out “across both traditional media and new media platforms including smart mobile devices, game consoles, tablets, and PCs.” At the heart of the experience is a locative event that will play out over the course of three weeks in London starting in mid-July and running until August 7th. According to Kring, this is a great week to join in with the action, as “the narrative aspect really gets cooking as far as meeting key characters and key figures. A lot of the smoke that’s surrounding it will start to lift in the next few days.”
Conspiracy for Good first launched in May with a series of videos featuring celebrities ranging from JJ Abrams to Ringo Starr declaring “I am not a member.” Later in the month, the site hosting the videos redirected to the game’s main portal at Conspiracy for Good. Savvy players discovered a puzzle-locked allegory about Lord Magpie and his efforts to silence the songbirds. One of the puzzles introduced Blackwell Briggs, a global company seeking to increase surveillance by supercharging existing CCTV networks and introducing legislation to subvert mobile networks to track citizens. The Conspiracy for Good leaked the footage to The Pirate Bay, and spokeswoman Ann Marie Calhoun posted a re-edit of the video, revealing a different side to the company. Shortly after posting the video, Calhoun went missing and The Pirate Bay received a notice from Blackwell Briggs requesting that the tracker be removed. Further hints at the overarching story emerged by playing Exclusion, a free game for Nokia phones that includes unlockable codes that lead to additional pieces of information on Babbage, a website discovered through Exclusion. Nokia partnered with Kring and The Company P to launch the project, and will release a series of games expanding on Exclusion to advance the narrative.
Transmedia storytelling was well received at this year’s International Digital Emmy Awards. Primeval Evolved and Reservoir Hill received Emmys for their innovative storytelling, while Heroes creator and executive producer Tim Kring received this year’s Pioneer Award at the award show in Cannes.
This past year has been particularly good for Primeval Evolved developer Hoodlum. In September, the Australian digital entertainment company took home a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy for its work on Dharma Wants You, the third alternate reality game for ABC’s hit drama LOST. Earlier tonight, Hoodlum added another Emmy to its growing collection, as the Primeval Evolved experience won the International Digital Emmy for “Best Digital Program: Fiction.” The campaign allowed players to join the Anomaly Research Centre (ARC) team from ITV’s drama Primeval.
UK residents can still experience the Primeval Evolved interactive drama, a series of ran concurrently with the third season of Primeval. Each chapter of Primeval Evolved is preceded by a recap of the previous episode of the television series, before allowing players to begin the adventure. In addition to a series of online games creating a framework for the story, the series featured Temple TV: In Living Connor, a series of videos filmed by series regular Connor Temple, played by Andrew Lee Potts.
ITV recently announced that Primeval has been picked up for two more seasons starting in 2011 on ITV1 and Watch. Congratulations to ITV, Hoodlum, and Impossible Pictures for their International Emmy win.
Congratulations also go out to Reservoir Hill for securing New Zealand’s first International Emmy. The interactive web series picked up an Emmy in the “Digital Program: Children & Young People” category. At the end of every Reservoir Hill episode, viewers had the opportunity to text in suggestions to influence the course of the story. They could also interact with the main character through weekly video blogs and through her Bebo page. New Zealand viewers can still enjoy the Reservoir Hill web series at TVNZ Ondemand.
Tim Kring received the 2010 Visionary Prize at the awards, honoring his contributions to the field of digital entertainment. International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences President and CEO Bruce Paisner noted, “Tim Kring is a masterful storyteller and the Heroes Evolution digital experience is the ultimate showcase for successfully integrating technology and content.” As the Visionary Prize recipient, Kring delivered a keynote address earlier today to MIPTV conference delegates.