Two weeks ago, Showfall Media released a media keynote sharing the news about their exciting new horror comedy project, The Social Experiments. The live experience gives viewers at home control over aspects of the broadcast. The keynote was marred by some unexpected glitches and ominous messages about how “it got everyone…everyone but me”, but a subsequent press release from the team at Showfall Media confirmed that those rogue frequencies are completely untrue, and can be ignored. So there’s absolutely nothing to worry about when the show premieres tomorrow, May 24th at 6pm EST, on the RanbooLive Twitch channel.
It’s worth noting that Showfall Media is a fictional company and The Social Experiments is the show-within-a-show for a new analog horror series called Generation Loss (GenLoss, for short). However, this Wednesday’s livestream is real, with the Wednesday premiere followed by additional streams on the 26th and 28th to extend the story. The series is created by Ranboo, a Twitch streamer who already has experience with semi-scripted livestreaming through his involvement as a character within the Dream SMP Minecraft server.
Early Glimpses at Generation Loss
While the team has kept fairly tight-lipped about exactly what Generation Loss will be, there have been a number of teasers hinting at things to come. In May 2022, the series released its first teaser trailer – a 30 second video with flashing messages that inspired a 16 minute Game Theory episode theorizing about what the project might bring. In the video, MatPat notes that “generation loss” is likely a reference to the gradual degradation of quality as analog media gets copied over time.
Recent teaser content posted to the Generation Loss Twitter account supports that theming, with a video of “The Hero” switching from 16-bit avatar to photorealism, just as the audio switches from an ominous 16-bit tune to a more orchestral version. Players can even take direct control of that avatar through a game on the Generation Loss website, where players can guide the Hero to talk with three characters, before encountering a glowing orb that further degrades the 16-bit world.
One video in particular implies that the show is dangerous: a series of five posters warn players to ignore The Social Experiments – “It has all changed. It has changed everything. It will change everything. I will stop it.” These warnings are soon covered over with Missing Person posters. Calling the number leads to a voicemail from Showfall’s Missing Person hotline that says “we appreciate your call, but you are not able to help us”.
Over the weekend, Generation Loss even took out a banner on Times Square featuring the message “SAVE HIM” superimposed over the Hero’s face – Showfall Media’s press release begging their fans to pay no mind to “rogue frequencies” from an individual who wants to destroy their horror-comedy experience was in response to the outdoor advertisements as much as it was addressing the hijacked keynote.
So, the setup for Wednesday’s premiere: Showfall Media is outwardly promoting a lighthearted horror comedy series called The Social Experiments. But something has gone wrong enough that even watching the show on RanbooLive at 6pm EST on March 24th is dangerous.
Similar Models of Interactive Livestreamed ARG Entertainment
From Generation Loss‘ description, it sounds like tomorrow’s launch will involve an interactive viewing experience where the audience can help influence events on the livestream through their actions. And there have been a number of interesting experiments with that model of storytelling in alternate reality games, over the years.
In 2018, the MIT Media Lab ran a game called BeeMe during Halloween, where players took over a live actor via remote control, choosing what they would do by popular vote to navigate a story about an evil AI named Zookd. As players progressed through the story, they realized that the audience were actually split in half and there were two remote controlled humans roaming the MIT campus for the story.
In 2022, Alice & Smith partnered with Twitch to run the Helios ARG, a weekend long event that allowed Twitch streamers to install a Twitch extension that let them farm in-game resources by watching participating Twitch streams in order to manufacture rockets at a lights out factory to prevent an extinction level event.
Markiplier has also experimented extensively with using YouTube videos as a choose your own adventure experience, culminating in the 2022 release of In Space with Markiplier, receiving an Emmy nomination for the solo experience that let players direct events by making choices through YouTube end screens. And that isn’t even the only Emmy nominated project of this sort: after working on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Bernie Su partnered with Twitch to produce Artificial, which won an Emmy in 2019 for the semi-scripted project.
However, the project that is likely the most informative for providing a preview of what’s to come with Generation Loss is the Twitch-driven horror-comedy broadcast Ghost Commander, which used a Twitch extension to allow viewers to influence events, either by directing the ghost hunter actors through their investigation or setting traps on behalf of the house’s ghosts. A December 6th teaser for Generation Loss lists Ghost Commander as a collaborator on the broadcast alongside JK Productions, and the company has developed an extension conveniently named “Showfall Media Interactive”.
It’s too soon to tell what Generation Loss will deliver for tomorrow’s release, framed as “Gen 1”. However, the last year of teasers for the project have offered up a taste of what’s to come, and a compelling argument for giving the series a chance.
So be sure to tune in on Ranboo’s Twitch channel at 6pm EST, but also don’t forget to check out signs of Generation Loss elsewhere: the GenerationLoss.TV website has a newsletter signup in addition to the teaser game, and you can find in-universe updates from Showfall Media on the Generation Loss Twitter account. There’s even an out-of-game behind the scenes account that provides a spoiler-free peek behind the curtain.
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