Tonight, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards held its annual awards, where the Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Original Interactive Television Programming was awarded to Fourth Wall Studios for their interactive program Dirty Work. The Emmy-winning show is a dark comedy featuring an LA-area clean-up crew as they go about their grisly business, featuring guest appearances from everyone from Metta World Peace to Kid Creole. Dirty Work is built off Fourth Wall Studios’ RIDES platform that integrates telephone calls, text messages, and user input to add a layer of depth to the viewing experience of the episodic web series.
Also nominated for the award was USA Network’s Hashtag Killer, and What’s Trending with Shira Lazar. Hashtag Killer is an online murder mystery built around USA Networks show Psych that allows players to virtually chat along with Shawn Spencer, Burton Guster, and the rest of the cast of the show while hunting down a serial killer who methodically stalked down and killed the top-scoring players in the Hashtag Killer experience. The game was built on the SocialSamba platform and linked to fans’ Club Psych accounts. What’s Trending with Shira Lazar combines online news articles and video broadcasts to provide a direct feed into what’s popular on the internet. The show recently accepted a grant from YouTube’s Next Lab, bringing more live and interactive content to the show.
The Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Fiction category has historically been friendly to alternate reality games, with the Fallen alternate reality game winning in 2007, the Heroes Digital Experience winning in 2008, and The Dharma Initiative winning in 2009. In 2010, Star Wars Uncut was the final winner for the category, before the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories were combined in 2011. This year, the Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media award was split into two new categories: original interactive television programming, and enhancement to a television program or series. Team Coco’s sync app won the program enhancement award.
Congratulations to Fourth Wall Studios for their win, and head on over to RIDES.tv to check out Dirty Work and the other interactive programs the team has developed.
Earlier this week, Fourth Wall Studios relaunched its website with a preview of things to come for the company and its first new experience on the company’s proprietary RIDES platform in over two years. The experience, Home: A Ghost Story, provides a proof-of-concept for storytelling that organically weaves video content with other media like email, text messages, and even telephone calls. In the spirit of the season, Home follows two sisters who return to their mother’s home to stage an intervention for her obsessive hoarding, only to learn that their mother wants to add one final piece to her collection.
Home: A Ghost Story starts out with a landing page that lets audience members choose the level of immersion for the experience. The Lite Experience plays out like a television pilot for a new season of The Twilight Zone, with 5 chapters of video content playing out over the course of 20 minutes, punctuated by texts, emails, and online chats between characters that appear directly to the right of the video at regular intervals. The Full Experience mirrors the content found in the Lite Experience but delivers the messages directly to your mobile device. During the registration process, visitors are asked to opt-in to their preferred level of involvement by providing contact information for emails, phone calls, and/or texts. This assures that when a character receives a phone call, the viewer’s phone rings and the action pauses until the call is answered. When the story calls for an email, an email is delivered straight to the viewer’s inbox. While most of the story’s content is delivered directly, visitors will have to actively seek out an additional piece of content featuring a cameo from a voice quite familiar to veterans of I Love Bees.
Earlier today, Fourth Wall Studios announced it received an initial $15 million round of financing from Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, along with access to a fund of up to $200 million through the Soon-Shiong’s California Capital Equity. VentureBeat reports that the “studio will be incorporated as a new company under the same name.” A number of prominent alternate reality game developers including Steve Peters, Maureen McHugh, Jay Bushman, and Jackie Turnure have announced they have joined this new company, which stakes the claim as the first Alternate Reality Entertainment (ARE) studio.
Fourth Wall Studios was founded by alternate reality gaming powerhouses Elan Lee, Sean Stewart, and Jim Stewartson after the three stepped down from 42 Entertainment. After departing 42 Entertainment, the three worked on projects including Watchmen‘s 6 Minutes to Midnight, Eagle Eye: Free Fall Halo 3: ODST‘s in-game experience Sadie’s Story. In an interview with Jawbone TV, Modernista revealed Fourth Wall’s involvement in the Dexter alternate reality game as well. Now, with additional funding from Soon-Shiong, Fourth Wall aims to extend these immersive storytelling techniques to mainstream audiences by enabling the interaction with fictional worlds using mobile devices, browsers, and social networks. The studio plans on developing original content and content made in partnership with top-tier creators from film, television, video games and publishing. These experiences, according to the Los Angeles Times, would be financed through sponsorships and micro-transactions.