Power to the Pixel has been a champion of transmedia since it’s inception in 2007. Liz Rosenthal and her team have worked hard to establish PttP as one of the leading voices for digital innovation within Europe. This year PttP expands to include the Pixel Lab (a week long lab for the development of transmedia projects), a bigger version of their Pixel Pitch (which places projects in front of industry) and the addition of a cross-media market this fall when it holds it’s annual cross-media forum in London.
We caught up with Liz to get the low down on the new Pixel Lab.
What is the Pixel Lab
The Pixel Lab is a UK-based residential cross-media workshop open to European filmmakers and media professionals. It’s focus is the creation, finance and distribution of cross-media properties and also about developing new creative and business partnerships around cross-media storytelling. It takes place 4-10 July 2010 in Wales in the UK
European film producers and other media professionals will tap into the business knowledge-base of the film, online, broadcast, advertising, gaming and mobile industries. Led by international cross-media experts, the programme will be project-based and will be through group work, one-to-one meetings, plenary sessions and case studies; a tailored, hands-on opportunity for developing, packaging, marketing and distributing cross-media stories.
Why is now the right time?
As audiences engage with stories in ever evolving ways across multiple platforms and devices, the time is ripe to explore how storytelling will evolve to suit audience behaviour. The Pixel Lab will also look at the business opportunities around cross-media storytelling as stories extend beyond traditional formats and delivery methods. As traditional film finance routes dry up we’ll look at new potential alliances and partnerships across the media industries and the opportunity to extend the life and value of story properties.
How does the Pixel Lab relate to Power to Pixel’s annual cross-media forum?
After attending the residential week, producer participants will additionally benefit from three months’ focused distance learning around their project with experts. They will then be invited to attend PttP’s annual Cross-Media Forum in London in October where they will also present their projects to cross-media industry experts and decision-makers.
What are some of the interesting transmedia projects that you see emerging?
Last year we held our first Pixel Pitch Competition at our London event which showcased projects from around the world. Amongst 120 submissions 7 of the best UK and international teams were selected to present their projects to a select roundtable jury of experts, decision makers and financiers. Heart of the City from New York-based Desedo Films won the £6,000 Babelgum Pixel Pitch Award.
Angels– film and TV series, ARG, live event
Production Company: Happy Fannie (France)
Brand New-U – feature film, interactive web series, game
Production Company: Hot Property Films (UK)
Dark Forest Project – documentary, multi-platform game for web and mobile, live event
Production Company: Mudlark Production Company associated with NewTV (UK and Brazil)
*WINNER OF THE 2009 PIXEL PITCH
Heart of the City – feature film, web series, live event, ARG and video game
Production Company: Desedo Films (USA)
Slick – feature film, web series, live event, ARG, mobile
Production Company: No Mimes Media (USA)
The Alexander Wilson Project – film web series, live event, game
Production Company: Bellyfeel / Visit Sheerport (UK)
Third Rail – feature film, web series, game, mobile app, interactive blu-ray
Posted in cross-media events storytelling transmedia
Building game technology takes time, and early implementations are likely too simple for adult gamers who crave depth. While we eagerly await the next big thing in tech-augmented ARG, kids are already getting to play with some of the best tech on the market for expanding gameplay into the real world. Today, I look at two technology-enabled games that are geared toward kids, but have a cutting edge appeal that makes adult gamers drool.
MagiQuest – Creative Kingdoms
tech-enabled live action gaming
First up is MagiQuest, which is billed by its creators as “the world’s largest live action game.” A more apt description would be world’s biggest fully automated live action game. The experience, which takes place in a sort of childrens’ museum environment, gives players a magic wand controller and sends them on an adventure through a physical fantasy world, learning spells, collecting gold and – of course – fighting dragons.
Players use their wand by giving it a swish and then pointing its tip at an object marked with MagiQuest’s logo – these simple animatronics, video kiosks and elaborate battle environments. I had the chance to play the game a few months ago at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX. Although the controls are not deep – you simply find things to interact with and point your wand at them – the experience of waving a magic wand at a remote object and having it respond has a lasting appeal.
The technology used in MagiQuest combines a simple IR activator with a remote account reading system.* Your progress through the game is stored externally, and you can pull up your inventory, gold, and XP count at a number of video kiosks that represent some of the “characters” in the game. The game technology is also modular and can be retooled for different experiences. The technology has already been adapted to create DinoQuest, a dinosaur-themed interactive exhibit at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, CA.
Because the game is modular, the game’s developer, Creative Kingdoms, has been able to build it into varied environments. A standalone MagiQuest location incorporates the game elements into a full interactive set that enhances the feeling of being in a fantasy world, but in the Great Wolf version of the game, interactive elements are scattered through all six floors of the hotel. The lodge even offers special “MagiQuest Suites” fitted with unique interactions. This revelation leads the game designer in me to wonder what other, more mature experiences could be created with a system like this installed in a less fantasy-themed environment like an art museum, or even in a mundane public place. As it stands, the MagiQuest storyline is rigid and linear, but there is nothing to say that the same technology couldn’t be used to create deep, immersive experiences.
But for the moment, Creative Kingdoms seems content to run a childrens’ game, especially with all of the built-in merchandising tied to the game. Kids can buy replicas of the game’s magic items, and get them added to their in-game inventory. They can also buy hats, cloaks and other costume pieces in the game shop, which serves as the hub of the experience. All of these props are beautifully designed, including the wand itself, which costs $15. The polish of the designs softens the obvious commercialism of the game a bit, and can even add to the immersion, if you’re willing to pay for these optional addons.
You can play MagiQuest at any one of their locations. There are three stand-alone attractions on the East coast, as well as games in all of the Great Wolf hotels, and two multilingual branches in Japan. However, come prepared to spend some cash: most of the locations charge by the hour.
The Hidden Park – Bulpadok / James Kane
augmented reality GPS gaming
If you prefer your kid-friendly experiences less corporeal, you can hunt for dragons and fairies virtually with The Hidden Park, one of the first full Augmented Reality games for the iPhone, brought to us by Australian design group Bulpadok.
Using the iPhone’s GPS, the game takes you on an augmented tour through your local public park, on a mission to gather evidence of endangered magical creatures. When you find them, snap a photo of your find with the iPhone’s camera and send it off to headquarters. Some of the encounters allow you to pose with the characters, so at the end of the day you’ll some great photos of your family (ahem, or your group of twenty-something techie friends) getting up close and personal with dragons and other creatures. Bulpadok describes the experience as a collision of geocaching and ARGs.
The art of Hidden Park should also be mentioned. All of the characters are animated in a smooth, simple, kid-friendly style that reminds me of Craig McCracken, the characters are well-designed and the voice work is excellent.
In spite of its currently limited catalog of game locations, Hidden Park is already getting praise for encouraging physical fitness in kids, for promoting an environmental message, and just for being cool. The scope of the game is scheduled to expand in the coming months with the addition of a Park Builder function, allowing the game’s collection of park information to grow through crowdsourcing.
Hopefully, someday we’ll see these technologies grow into themselves and offer something for mature audiences; but for now, I’m cool with letting them make me feel like a kid again.
* I assume that the system uses RFID to keep track of the wands, because they have a very low-powered battery inside that can’t possibly do much more than power the LED in the tip of the wand. However, neither Creative Kingdoms nor the patent for the game are letting on.
Posted in events gaming transmedia
ARGFest-o-Con is still rattling around in my brain cavity, and I am still experiencing the aftereffects, both real and imagined. I have been busily showing off my swag to every person who comes within ten feet for the last month; at this point I think I might be getting a little obnoxious about it. For those of you who missed it this year – and believe me, you missed something special – let me walk you through the event as I experienced it or at least, the parts I can remember.
Friday afternoon’s festivities were something of a love letter to Awkward Hug, the creators and stars of Must Love Robots. Dozens of ARGers collaborated to build robot costumes for the Robot Speed Dating event that would set up the game’s finale. (This combined my two favorite things: crafts and gaming.) The speed dating offered players an early opportunity to flex their puzzle-solving muscles, challenging each other to solve puzzles to “decrypt” each others’ robo-hearts.
I collaborated with another ARGer to create this smokin' hot rasta-bot costume.
Friday night, we adjourned to an official meet-and-greet cocktail party, where I got to put faces to many of the ARG-related names I’ve seen online over the years. (And was surprised to learn that I already knew some of the people I had “met” earlier that day.)
As far as Saturday’s panels went, there was a lot of tension vented in the panel on “Blurring the Lines,” with the creator of the controversial game I’m Sorry and recently outed PM Martin Aggett. While I’d like to weigh in on that panel and what the contents mean for immersive gaming as a whole (something which FriarTech has already done splendidly), I have to admit that I missed half of it hanging out in the hall, talking to Jeff Hull and Sean Aaberg of Nonchalance.
Posted in community cross-media crowdsourcing events gaming social media