Ludic Narrans:Drew Davidson Talks Crossmedia Communication (Part Two)

This is the second installment of my interview with Drew Davidson, Director of the Entertainment Technology Center Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University, about his recently published Crossmedia Communications textbook. In this section, we talk about dvds, games, toys, amusement park, fan culture, electronic publishing, and much much more.

I am often asked whether people really want to engage actively with entertainment properties or prefer to sit back and let the entertainment come to them. How do you address this question through your book? What insights do you offer about what might motivate a consumer used to more passive forms of entertainment to jump into these more interactive formats?

On the one hand, it’s like Jesse Schell put in his recent talk at DICE

that the future is already all around us, so it’s going to be hard to avoid. While Schell is not directly talking about crossmedia, I still think his point applies. More and more crossmedia experiences are already being created, so it’s going to be hard to not engage just because they’re around so much.

On the other hand, I think it’s a matter of degree of interactivity, and some formats can serve as a gateway to more interactive ones. For instance, the DVD. The DVD lets you sit down and just watch a movie from start to finish, but there are also lots of extras you can watch that show you “making of” stories, deleted scenes, different endings, extended versions, etc. And also, some DVDs let you click a button during the movie that will play more information about the particular scene your watching. In fact, some stories have been created that can only be watched on DVD, where you’re able to unravel scenes from a variety of perspectives (and that’s not even addressing the types of interactive DVDs the porn industry has created).

But what’s interesting about DVDs as an example is that they enable people to both passively watch and also to take a little more control of how they experience the story. Granted, it’s not necessarily a robust form of interactivity, but it’s one that my parents take advantage of all the time. So, it can serve as a way to introduce and entice them into more interactive formats.

Similarly, I hope that the textbook can introduce people into the phenomenon of cross-media communications and entice them to explore it more deeply. And what I like about the example of DVDs is that illustrates how this doesn’t have to be an either/or situation, it can be a both/and one. People can enjoy both more passive formats, as well as more interactive ones.

When designing a crossmedia property, are we trying to design a unified experience which will be shared by most consumers or an experience which may have multiple points of entry to support a range of diverse and dispersed sets of consumers?

I think it’s more toward the latter from a design perspective (and from how it’s currently playing out with consumers) although I could see how the major media conglomerates would like it to become more mainstream so that more fans are participating across more media.

One of the more successful design strategies that has evolved is to have a tentpole experience around which you can create a crossmedia property. A tentpole is a major media experience that supports a lot of other smaller related media experiences. This can enable a scaffolded narrative experience with various layers, each requiring a little more effort then the tentpole. So more casual fans can enjoy the tentpole, and that could be the extent of their experience. While more dedicated fans can dig deeper and find the various related media that guide them more fully into the fictional universe. And hardcore fans can find and explore it all.

Your book talks about a range of forms of crossmedia experiences which are rarely talked about. For example, you spend part of a chapter on theme parks. So, in what ways can theme park experiences be used to extend our experience of a fictional world? What theme park attractions do the best job of expanding our experience of a property rather than simply adapting the property from one medium to another?

Theme parks can provide the opportunity to have an embodied experience within a fictional universe. In general, I think most of them are really just adaptations of a story from another medium (or stand on their own). But even so, having an embodied interaction can enhance and expand your experience with a story. Being able to feel like you’re actually there in the narrative universe is something theme parks can do.

Some attractions make the most of this. The Spider-Man ride at Universal tries to give you a feeling of what it’s like to be Spider-Man. And even more so, the Pirates of Caribbean ride gives us a sense of a being a pirate, and it inspired the movies (which fleshed out the narrative). And in the Battle for Buccaneer Gold ride, you got even more actively involved as you took on the role of a pirate.

Jesse Schell, who designed the ride, commented that as the design team watched people experience the ride, they noticed that everyone is really just seconds away from acting like a pirate. By inviting people to participate, the ride gave people permission to act like pirates, which enabled them to act, and feel, like a part of the fictional universe

.

You discuss toys as another kind of media extension. When are toys part of the story and when are they simply a commodification of the story?

Like theme parks, I think toys are generally just a commodification of a story. As such, they don’t really add to a narrative. But in the same vein as theme parks, they can also enhance our experience of a story by enabling us to bring a part of the fictional universe into our space.

At the very least, they are little collectibles on our desks that remind us of an experience we enjoy. And some toys are more directly a part of the story. Webkinz is a good example of toys that help take you into a world. Pokemon takes this a step further with collectible cards that are part of a game, and a television show that shares tips and tricks on how to play.

Either way, a toy can serve as a representation of a narrative universe.They can extend the story into our world, helping make it feel like a part of our daily lives.

You talk about media producers “listening” to their audience. To what degree is crossmedia entertainment shaped by audience expectations and emergent forms of participation? To what degree is it shaped top-down by the commercial and creative imperatives of professional storytellers?

I think the answers to these questions are being discovered as we speak. Designers, producers and fans are figuring it out as we go. Lost is a great example of a television show with a dedicated (and vocal) group of fans, and writers that have stated publicly about how much they pay attention to their fans, and producers who have supported the show’s development within this environment.

Designers and producers can use the internet to check the pulse of fan commentary as well as communicate directly with the fans. They often host their own sites with active blogs and inside scoop on how the story is progressing.

The internet also enables audiences to organize and coordinate so that they can better make themselves heard. There are influential entertainment blogs and community sites that help provide a gathering point people as well as a diversity of websites for, and by, fans that focus on specific crossmedia experiences.

Granted, they can only have so much influence, but it’s not insignificant. Fans of the quickly cancelled Firefly television show rallied to try and save the show. While they weren’t able to keep the show alive, they were able to rally enough support to help the movie Serenity get made.

And then there’s the great example of Lost Zombies which started as a zombie documentary being generated by the community, and has evolved to incorporate

a bunch of different media. People are able to get directly involved in the Lost Zombies experience from A to Z.

And so, I think the ad-hoc back and forth is evolving into a more coordinated dance between all the parties involved, and the experiences of fictional universes are evolving with them.

Near the end of the book, you raise the issue of “too much content.” Is it possible for crossmedia producers to generate so much content that it smothers fan participation?

There’s a finite variable involved, which is the time that we can commit to all of these experiences. Particularly if you consider crossmedia experiences that have serialized television shows as the tentpole for everything else. But even without that, these experiences can demand a lot of time commitment from the fans, so it would be tricky to get fully involved with a bunch of crossmedia narratives all at once.

This gets back to the idea of how crossmedia experiences can be designed around tentpoles. I think it’s fair to say that most people, have time to engage with several tentpole experiences. And the rest of the crossmedia opportunities can be found by more passionate fans who want to spend more time with a particular fictional universe. So, it seems that across a fan’s mediascape there would be some tentpoles as well as various layers of crossmedia engagement for select fictional universes they really enjoy.

This also gets back to the idea of how content producers should listen to their audiences. If there is a good synergy amongst all the participants, there should be enough content for fans who want it. If not, there can be too much (or too little even). An example of too much can be found with the Flash Forward television show. The producers tried to jump start fan participation by having short interstitial “ads” telling viewers that certain weird moments in the show were important. So instead of allowing

fans to develop and explore more freely, it felt like they were trying to force feed a deeper interest level from the start.

For as much planning at it takes to create crossmedia narratives, the audience will become fans on their own terms and in their own time. So, I think turning a firehouse of content onto an audience can smother deeper participation. By doling content out more discreetly, you can entice fans to take the time to dig deeper into the fictional universe.

You built a dvd that accompanies the book. What does it contribute to our understanding of crossmedia? To what degree does it put the book’s ideas

into action?

The purpose of the DVD-ROM is to enable students to put the ideas in the book into action. This happens in a couple of ways. First of all, there are a lot of media examples on the DVD-ROM (images, short videos and music). The media was created by students and interns at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon.

Then, I collaborated with Alice Robison who helped go through the textbook and create objectives and questions for each chapter as well as a semester-long student project that connects the ideas in the book with the media on the DVD-ROM, so that students can actively practice how to design and develop a crossmedia experience and explore all the issues and concepts involved.

Also, crossmedia is put into play in the book itself. Two gifted artists, Angela Love and Eun Jung Lee, created images to relate to the content in each chapter. Angela did interpretative illustrations and Eun Jung created information graphics. In both cases, the imagery is another way into the topics covered in the text. This gives students the opportunity to see and discuss how images can relate to, and enhance, words.

Building on this, each chapter has perspectives shared from different professionals in the field. Over thirty experts shared their thoughts and ideas about crossmedia. This helps to expose students to various points of view on the topics found throughout the book.

Considering all of the above, this crossmedia textbook project was truly realized through the expertise and efforts of a talented interdisciplinary group of people. I think it all came together well and helps make the textbook and accompanying DVD-ROM a solid overview of crossmedia communications.

Tell us a bit more about ETC. press and what you are trying to achieve with this publishing venture?

Well for those who don’t know, ETC Press is a small experimental academic publishing imprint that I helped start at CMU in 2008. We’re interested in exploring and expanding the notion of publishing. Authors retain ownership of their intellectual property and all of our titles are released under Creative Commons licenses. You can see more about our mission and our titles

at: http://etc.cmu.edu/etcpress/

I think one of our main goals is to enable the sharing of ideas and to help influence discussion around topics related to entertainment technologies. So we work hard to make our texts as available as possible. We have our titles priced as inexpensively as possible, while also offering free digital downloads, along with versions on our website as well as through various formats and web archive sites to help share them as far and wide as possible.

We’re also really interested in playing around and across multiple media and having multiple versions of texts. We’re interested in crossmedia communications and encourage and support projects that are willing to experiment with the participatory nature of content creation and academic discourse. So, we invite people to play with us.

Drew Davidson is a professor, producer and player of interactive media. His background spans academic, industry and professional worlds and he is interested in stories across texts, comics, games and other media. He is the Director of the Entertainment Technology Center Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University and the Editor of ETC Press. He completed his Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, he received a B.A. and M.A. in Communications Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He chaired Game Art & Design and Interactive Media Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the Art Institute Online and has taught and researched at several universities. He consults for a variety of companies, institutions and organizations and was a Senior Project Manager in the New Media Division of Holt, Rinehart and Winston. He was also a Project Manager in Learning Services at Sapient, and before that he produced interactive media at HumanCode. He helped create the Sandbox Symposium, an ACM SIGGRAPH conference on video games and served on the IGDA Education SIG. He works with SIGGRAPH on games and interactive media and serves on the ACTlab Steering Committee, and many review boards and jury panels. He founded the Applied Media & Simulation Games Center at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is the lead on several MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Initiative grants and has written and edited books, journals, articles and essays on narratives across media, serious games, analyzing gameplay, and cross-media communication.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Comments

  1. perlunya web komunitas event

    perlunya web komunitas event

    Ludic Narrans:Drew Davidson Talks Crossmedia Communication (Part Two) good posting

  2. concepttry says:

    Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, wonderful site!

    Ariat boots

    Skechers Shape Ups

    Bearpaw boots

    Skechers Shape Ups

    diapers

  3. markweee says:

    Sed sem nisi, venenatis non, auctor sed, mattis et, lacus. Quisque et diam. Fusce vel metus varius est posuere vehicula. Ut est. Vivamus est. Sed molestie augue ac diam Master Degree AND Associate Degree AND Graduate Course Certificate

  4. markweee says:

    People can enjoy both more passive formats, as well as more interactive ones. Undergraduate Course Certificate AND Undergraduate Certificate

  5. Many thanks for making the effort to discuss this, I feel strongly about this and like studying a great deal more on this topic. If possible, as you gain knowledge, would you mind updating your webpage with a great deal more information? It’s very helpful for me.

    Toulouse hotels

  6. PropInve says:

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

    Tarneit Real Estate

  7. nancystanger says:

    Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. Daria to Henry Jenkins

  8. Vivian Sobchack has deployed the term, “special affect,” to refer to moments in science fiction films where the characters stand slack jawed in wonderment at some special effect which is unfolding around us, often in ways that are abstracted from denotation or physical referent.

    Invest in Paris

  9. andreaprossi says:

    Great synopsis of commenting and how to very well written and all that link love you just poured out, great post, if this was a forum you would have a sticky on this. bijuterii | masini de inchiriat

  10. Hello Prof. Henry, I am glad to see that you are truly passionate about this subject.The documentary is well made and it has included a lot of info in a easy to understand way.I am impressed by your vocation and your style.I think you must born with this way of life and way of be.

    Trade Show Booths

  11. Your blog is really excellent. It inspires the readers who has that great desire to lead a better and happier life. Thanks for sharing this information and hope to read more from you. Great information…

    ___________________

    Emma637

    Marketing Assistant

    Evony Age 2 Guide

  12. I found the perfect place for my needs. Contains the wonderful and useful messages. Keep up the good work.Ultimately,I want to thank you for having a good website.

    mobile casino

  13. have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think.

    Potty Training

    Child Behavior Problems

    Potty Training Boys

    Potty Training Tips

    Potty Training Regression

  14. I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think.industrial ice making machine

  15. welcome great web for shopping text to speech and rolex replica

    Shop and find the lowest prices on products from louis vuitton outlet. Price comparison shopping, product reviews, and armani watch – all the tools to help make wow gold simple

  16. taminadastan says:

    I enjoyed reading this post which is highly informative.I recently came across your blog and have been reading along and the article you have written is very interesting.

    student loan consolidations cheap hawaiian vacations cheap caribbean vacation cheap concert tickets

  17. There are so many christian louboutin discount sensory experiences along San Jose’s themed shopping ghd mk4 and dining district called Santana Row, that it’s understandable why so many first-time tiffany necklace visitors might become confused about where they are. In creating Santana Row, some of louis vuitton wallet the world’s best urban experiences were fused, generating a new place that defies categorization. More than a shopping district, it is a community with parks, townhouses and a hotel. Facades of chanel handbag the five-story buildings along the boulevard hint stylistically that Santana Row evolved over the past century. A pseudo art deco frieze atop one of handbags for sale the false fronts heroically declares “DeForest” hinting that some industrial plant once occupied the building in the 1930s. The consistent height of the buildings along its 1500-foot “Main Street” shocks one’s senses after arriving from sprawling Silicon Valley where building height seems constrained only by purpose. Suddenly, you’ve entered an urban canyon as is common in European cities.

  18. Despite the fact that most of designer sunglasses the aforementioned retails stores have an e-commerce site, most like the convenience of cheap mbt shopping these stores from within one location. An online shopping mall offers all that plus offers rebates for mac palette eyeshadow shopping with them. Often time shopping with them also allows for discount christian louboutin free shipping. There may be other online shopping malls, that offer the same products, but if you look closely, sometimes the products actually come from these major stores. Often times, by coming from these stores adds to gucci bags the shipping and handling fees.

  19. grandchester says:

    Media provider must start to synergize their media. When media don’t synergize, they will not have a great impact on society.

    To make a better society, we need synergized media.

    online high school classes

    law degree online

  20. MidasIncome says:

    Good Content! Keep it up! cheap running trainers is great too!

  21. THis is so great informations. I will come back

    If you have free time, please visit:

    Notebook News

    Laptop News

    HTC Android Smartphone

    Slim Digital Camera

    Android News

    Moto Droid

    Gadget and Tech news

  22. In the talk, I described some of the ways that our program has deployed new media technologies to expand its outreach to the public and I have suggested some of the benefits to academic programs in embracing the potentials which these technologies offer for us to extend our roles as public intellectuals.

    Audio car

  23. MidasIncome says:

    Great post. Definitely bookmarking! internet marketing tips is great too!

  24. I enjoyed reading this post which is highly informative.I recently came across your blog and have been reading along and the article you have written is very interesting.

    seo expert at seo srbija

  25. Thanks for sharing this post. I enjoyed reading it a lot.

    mosley vs pacquiao

    cebu real estate

  26. have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think.

    lv outlet go lose weightghprada outlet shi earn money ways

  27. mortgage quotesMany thanks for making the effort to discuss this, I feel strongly about this and like studying a great deal more on this topic florida mortgage rates.

  28. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.

  29. Hotels in Innsbruck says:

    Thank you for your time and efforts to have decided to put these things together on this site. Emily and i also very much liked your ideas through the articles over certain things. I am aware that you have many demands with your program therefore the fact that you actually took the maximum amount of time like you did to steer people like us by way of this article is even highly loved.

    Hotels in Innsbruck

  30. rosswilson says:

    CDS Global is announcing the launch of their enhanced suite of Cross-Media Communications, which provides a one-stop, comprehensive, ROI-driven solution of integrated digital and print communication tools for multiple industries.

    With years of experience in digital printing and state-of-the-art mailing and distribution systems, CDS Global is able to handle complex, database-driven projects that enable the use of variable data to create personalized one-to-one messages based on customer data and demographics.

    From custom digital printing and a cover-driven workflow to mailing services and detailed campaign management that includes PURLs, QR Codes, email, doculinks and Web-to-Print solutions, CDS Global’s Cross-Media Communications offer the tools that easily leverage customized content, making marketing campaigns more successful.

    Cold Sores Remedies

    Cold Sore Remedies

  31. You write very good reports, I like to watch, it made me learn a lot of things, really thank you very much, although the former, now looks very good., Here

    maybe you or your friends will need my information as follows for the: Have a nice day with our mutual shared information!

    —————————————–

    ralph lauren outlet,wholesale nike shoes,wholesale jordan shoes,nike soccer cleats,abercrombie hoodies,new era cap

  32. You write very good reports, I like to watch, it made me learn a lot of things, really thank you very much, although the former, now looks very good., Here

    maybe you or your friends will need my information as follows for the: Have a nice day with our mutual shared information!

    —————————————–

    ralph lauren outlet,wholesale nike shoes,wholesale jordan shoes,nike soccer cleats,abercrombie hoodies,new era cap

  33. This is a fantastic website and I can not recommend you guys enough. Full of useful resource and great layout very easy on the eyes. Please do keep up this great work.

    NY bankruptcy attorney

  34. Hotels in Paris says:

    Its great Entertainment technology center for better development in business sectors.

    London the city, which is counted among one of the prominent cities of the world and has a cosmopolitan structure has a very planned and robust transportation structure to serve its utilities and masses to commute freely and without any hassle across the city of London. London Public Transport Network is the biggest sort and type of public transport system in the world. By traffic volume and infrastructure it is the biggest one in the world. However, for the first time visitor to London it could be very expensive to their needs and attributes and they more also need to take care of expenses of the London Hotels apart from the charges of London transport system.

  35. What a lovely and inspirational video this is and I am very pleased to watch it.

  36. Interesting article, thanks so much for sharing
    cufflinks for men

  37. Highly helpful thank you, There's no doubt that your followers would possibly want significantly better afrika mangosu written articles like that maintain the excellent work.tütüne son klavis panax nanomatik orjin krem