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!
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 Cards. Netflix 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. Payback. See, 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?
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: