Welcome to the New Age: Will you be Defiant?


April 11, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue

This is not a video game review. However, the recent release of the MMO/TV show Defiance has me thinking, which means it’s blog post time!

Does the world feel like it's crumbling around you?

Does the world feel like it’s crumbling around you?

Did you feel that? No it’s not your imagination, that was an earthquake. The landscape of entertainment as we know it is being terraformed. Yes, there’s tons of online discussion about tectonic shifts in the book publishing industry, but it’s not alone. Magazines, newspapers, film studios, TV stations, and video game developers are ALL having to change the way they do business in response to the changes in technology in the past decade and a change in how consumers are taking their entertainment.

The question is: Will you defy the old paradigm and embrace the New Age of Entertainment with open arms?

Take, for example, Netflix‘s House of CardsNetflix knows that consumers are no longer satisfied with being confined to watching one episode of a show a week in a predetermined time slot. They realized that consumers were gobbling down entire seasons of shows in marathon settings and produced their own show and released all 13 episodes at the same time. The idea is as brilliant as the show itself. A new season of House of Cards is hotly anticipated AND they’re going to bring back Arrested Development with this platform! YAY! They embraced the changes in the industry and found a way to make it work for them in a way that traditional broadcasters cannot.

Big players in other industries are also trying new things.

For another example, we have to go to the world of gaming. Yes, I am an unrepentant MMO fanatic. For one, I’m enthralled with the platform for storytelling that gaming provides. You’re not just reading a story, but completely immersed in a different world and, usually, battling to save it. It’s interactive and it’s fun. But developers of MMOs have had a hard go of it lately. Nearly every game that has come out in the past few years has had a great initial response and then died out, leaving the devs scrambling to transition it to free-to-play just to keep players in the game.

Trion Worlds, Inc and Syfy came up with a new way to connect to their audiences: Defiance. Defiance is a new MMO just released last week AND a TV show that will premier Monday 4/15 on Syfy. What’s more, they’ve promised us that the TV show and the game will go hand-in-hand, the events in the game will impact the show and vice versa.

My initial reaction: This is gonna fail harder than Mr. PaybackSee, no one has any idea what I’m talking about, do you? It was a movie that came out in 1995 where we were supposed to be able to interact with the movie and use voting buttons built into our theater seats like it was a big screen Choose Your Own Adventure. Problem was, the movie was terrible and I mean godawful. I think the seven of us that were in the theater when I saw it (yes, that was the entire audience) spent more time shouting and throwing popcorn at the screen than we did voting.

While I’m still having major doubts about Defiance as a TV show and having a hard time believing that Trion and Syfy are really going to be able to make the two interactive, I do applaud their attempt to do something different, to find new ways to engage consumers. I will be watching the new show on Monday with morbid curiosity and I will log into the game immediately afterward to see what events happen to parallel the show. They got me, at least for now. I’m actually really enjoying the game which plays a bit like a cross between Borderlands and Firefly.

Yes, this could turn out to be a massively disappointing and expensive gamble for Trion and Syfy. But they are generating publicity, they are trying to adapt to changes in the industry, they are innovating.

So, my question to us a writers: What are we doing to be innovative and embrace the changes in our own industry?

defi arkfall

Me? I’m gonna shoot some hellbugs!

The fact is that we have opportunities to connect with our readers that our predecessors could only dream of. Do you have a blog? A Facebook page for your book? Do you Tweet? Congratulations, you’re already embracing the changes. But so are zillions of other writers, so what more can we do?

Sadly, I don’t have the answers, but I’m really excited to see what innovations in publishing come out in the next few years. And I’m rooting for Defiance to pull this thing off.

I leave you with the launch trailer for Defiance which features the kick-ass song Radioactive by Imagine Dragons


7 thoughts on “Welcome to the New Age: Will you be Defiant?

  1. Vagrance says:

    I have a feeling this will just be another Dungeons and Dragons movie. Seemed like a good idea at the time…..

    Unfortunately, promotion is usually much more difficult than production. From what I know, a lot of Japanese writers have turned to visual novels (lots of 18+ “games” in that category). I shot through an intriguing one called “9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors” on the NDS a year ago.

    Of course, I have yet to see anything fresh in the writing industry. If anything, well-written stories usually serve as backbones for popular TV series, games and movies.

    • That’s kind of my fear, too. The concept sounds really nifty, but the execution could fall flat. I do want to see what happens, though. When someone first told me about the Kindle my initial reaction was “What a terrible idea! Books are meant to be paged through!” I couldn’t imagine not having an actual paperback in hand. Joke’s on me, huh?

  2. Stephen says:

    I’m a little more optimistic than Kira on this one. It looks like SyFy has done their homework and was willing to sink a ton of cash on the big three: production quality, good actors, and writers. It is also noteworthy that SyFy and Trion have been working together from the start to develop the story AND the interaction between game and show. Time will tell. At the very least, I’m very much enjoying the game.

  3. I’m not a big gamer – though I totally understand the appeal – but SyFy’s been quite hit or miss for a while, so this could really go either way.

    As for the future of writing or what I’m personally doing or interested in doing? I’ve seen increasing numbers of prominent folks talk about doing more short stories and serializations to help keep fans engaged and to give them that fix they want. As someone who loves really epic stories that i can “marathon” kind of like TV shows, I’m intrigued by the possibilities of a more rapid-fire approach to publishing, thanks to the new technologies. I can’t say I’m one of those who can typically crank out a story a month or anything, but I’d sure like to give it a try. 🙂

    • There does seem to be quite a bit of that right now. Authors have already been publishing short stories outside of anthologies for years thanks to e-book technologies and many are offering them up for free or dirt cheap on their websites to their fans. It’s a nice way to keep readers involved while awaiting the next major installment in a book series. I keep wondering if we’ll eventually see something like e-book libraries with membership fees rather than pay-per-book. The way I devour novels, I’d soooo sign up for this. Not as fond of it from a writer’s perspective, though, and I can’t imagine how anyone would work out the legal details and how authors whose books appear in the library would get paid.

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