By peter katz, August 24th, 2010

Social games are rapidly becoming one of the most successful forms of entertainment:

Disney purchased Playdom for up to $763.2 million and Club Penguin for $700 million.

EA purchased Playfish for $400 million.

The research form Next Up for pre-IPO trading service SharesPost estimates Zynga is worth three billion dollars.

Why are they thriving (even in a recession):

Social games are accessible throughout the day over multiple platforms.

You are rewarded with digital prizes the more you play.

Players act as evangelists marketing the game all over social networks to recruit new users.

Creators of TV shows and movies can now use similar techniques to have a stronger relationship with their fans. Emerging web start ups are making that possible. Miso injects interactivity into the TV and film viewing experience by utilizing a smart phone, laptop, or tablet as a duel screen with supplemental content. SCVNGR is an user generated location based scavenger hunt for your smart phone.

SCVNGR can create challenges based on elements from a story e.g. a player is asked trivia questions from True Blood and if they get the answer correct they are given a clue to find their next location. Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D and Dexter made SCVNGR a part of their marketing campaign by creating scavenger hunts around the San Diego Comic Con. To reach fans where they shop, scavenger hunts can be sponsored e.g. visit Best Buy and purchase a product marked with QR code to get your next clue. People can expand the experience to new locations by creating  scavenger hunts revolving around fan fiction.

This keeps fans connected to a story no matter where they are located.

Players receive points and badges in Miso for checking into their favorite shows and movies like Four Square for content. Miso has a list of their highest ranking watchers; this competition keeps an audience coming back to a program to be number 1. By rewarding their engagement over time, I think this can transform casual viewers into hardcore fans.

Users on Miso can share what they are watching on Facebook and Twitter, their friends can now start following that show and converting more fans. They can also recruit them directly on Miso. This sustains and builds a fanbase.

Many games have been inspired by films/TV shows to create more compelling narratives e.g. Grand Theft Auto. Now Hollywood can learn from social games to keep fans connected to their stories.

What else can filmmakers and TV show creators learn from social games?

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Posted in ARG audience-building community gaming marketing movies social media storytelling television transmedia

peter katz is an award winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Peter has produced genre films that have screened all over the world from the AFI Fest to the Rome Film Festival. His first picture Home Sick starred Bill Moseley from The Devil's Rejects and Tom Towles from Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer. Next Peter worked with Tobe Hooper (director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist) on Mortuary, which premiered on the Sci Fi Channel. Most recently he was a producer on Pop Skull, a psychological ghost film, that has received great reviews in Variety and numerous film web sites. Currently, Peter is developing projects across various mediums including film, comics, and the web.

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  • SCVNGR can create challenges based on a elements from a story e.g. a player is asked trivia from True Blood.

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