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  Microsoft’s Cross-Platform Ad Play  
Posted 2007-07-30 by Tony Walsh
Advertising Age looked into Microsoft's "Live Anywhere" ad strategy last week, finding that audiences are being offered to advertisers by demographic or game preference rather than by platform. Live Anywhere spans the Xbox 360, Windows PC, and according to Ad Age, mobile spaces. One identity is tracked across platforms, so Live users could be targeted by personal details--such as age, sex, and location--submitted when signing up for Microsoft services. As far as I can tell from using Xbox Live in San Francisco and Toronto, users are already being targeted with local ads based on where the system is accessed (common in internet advertising).

The Ad Age article quotes an analyst, who says Live Anywhere is "easy to leverage for advertisers. You can integrate advertising that won't be intrusive, [and] you can also target ads more effectively." Well, sure, you can integrate non-intrusive advertising, but from personal experience, Xbox Live is cluttered with banner ads, demonstrating that the people in charge don't care about intrusion. Given that Microsoft's ad play results from last year's purchase of Massive--an in-game advertising company with a habit of ruining games--I doubt the power to target gamers across platforms will be used responsibly.

When I first subscribed to Xbox Live, there weren't any advertisements. Now, the service is littered with blatant ads, yet the service still costs me sixty bucks a year. A brave new wave of cross-platform ads may soon wash over Live Anywhere, but what benefit do gamers receive?
  ARG Netcast: The Buzz  
Posted 2007-07-26 by Tony Walsh
I'm a guest panelist on the latest ARG Netcast, entitled "The Buzz," joining ARGNet publisher Jonathan Waite, Unfiction owner Sean C. Stacey, and ARGNet writer Celina Beach in a chat about ARG-related buzz and viral marketing. Thanks for having me, folks, it was a fun conversation.

One particular angle of conversation covered the concept of Chaotic Fiction, which Sean C. Stacey wrote about last year and helps to provide a framework for discussing and designing ARG-style games by identifying the degrees of Authorship, Rules, and Coherence in a given work. I had forgotten about all this until the Netcast, so it was great to get a refresher on the subject.
  ‘Thursdays Fictions’: Book, Film, and ‘Second Life’ Presence  
Posted 2007-07-23 by Tony Walsh
Earlier this year I traveled to Tasmania to co-mentor teams of film and TV producers as part of the ongoing LAMP initiative driven by AFTRS. I had a rewarding experience working as the "guardian mentor" for a project known as Thursday's Fictions, which began life as a book, migrated to a DVD film (to be aired on ABC TV), blossomed into an interactive concept at LAMP, and will now be extended into Second Life.

The creative artists behind Thursday's Fictions, Dr. Richard James Allen and Dr. Karen Pearlman of The Physical TV Company, are brimming with imagination and talent, so I'll be interested to see how their original concept has evolved in collaboration with Second Life-savvy Gary Hayes, Director of LAMP at AFTRS and The Project Factory.

Following the ABC TV broadcast of the film on July 29, you'll be able to teleport to ABC Island in Second Life, where Drs. Allen and Pearlman will host a meet-and-greet in avatar form. A virtual Thursday's Fictions environment is now under construction, with new sections planned for launch this week, and some surprises to follow the broadcast. More info available on the ABC TV microsite for Thursday's Fictions.
  links for 2007-07-23  
Posted 2007-07-23 by Tony Walsh
  ‘Music Lounge’ Users In ‘Vogue’ [Updated]  
Posted 2007-07-13 by Tony Walsh
‘Music Lounge’ Users In ‘Vogue’ [Updated]
Users of brand-friendly microworld The Music Lounge have started their own lifestyle magazines featuring in-world gossip, personalities and fashions. One of the first, dubbed The Lounge Issue, by user 'Softcoppertone,' seems to have made it to issue #2, but wasn't available online at the time of writing. The Lounge Issue's second issue contained an article on cybersex which caused a bit of controversy due to the teenage demographic of the Lounge. Meanwhile, all 24 pages of Lounge Vogue's first edition published by 'limy' are available online, featuring music, fashion, bootlegged real-world brands, and snapshots of Lounge culture.

I think the emergence of an in-world press (even lifestyle rather than hard journalism) marks the maturity of a virtual world. While the production values of these Lounge magazines are amateurish, it's obvious substantial effort went into Lounge Vogue, apparently the only such magazine covering the Lounge currently available online. Chatter on the Lounge message boards indicates other users hope to kickstart their own magazines. Personally I'm hoping for deeper cultural substance--it's a pity The Lounge Issue and its cybersex article are no longer available. [update: it's up now, and issue 2 contains some great inside scoops!]
  Jesse Alexander (’Heroes,’ ‘Lost’) Talks Transmedia  
Posted 2007-06-27 by Tony Walsh
The Hollywood & Games Summit played host this week to Jesse Alexander, exec producer for Heroes, Lost and Alias. Alexander's discussion 'Shepherding a Property Through the Transmedia Landscape' was captured yesterday by Gamasutra and Wonderland, each offering a slightly different angle on the topic.

My fave Alexander quotes from Alice's notes over at Wonderland:
"There are new forms of entertainment, like Machinima and stuff, but games are great the way they are, movies and TV are great the way they are, and transmedia integrated into the DNA of whatever they create is what’s important. How am I going to get this content exploited on the internet, or in gamespace, or on TV...The writers of these games are more than capable of writing screenplays or TV content. They can do that."

Fave quotes from the Gamasutra article:
"When you’re doing licenses, you could find a way to do something shitty, put it out and make some money, but you could also build something great. Make a relationship with a studio, with a license, and make it great."
  ‘EVE TV’ Launch Imminent  
Posted 2007-06-22 by Tony Walsh
EVE TV, a weekly web-exclusive video series revolving around sci-fi MMO EVE Online, launches June 23, 2007 at 11:00 GMT. The series brings together four conventionally-attractive presenters who are relatively new to the EVE universe, and one veteran gamer with previous editorial and broadcast experience, dosing viewers with both eye- and brain-candy.

While the series tagline is "play it, live it, watch it," it remains to be seen how many people will prefer to play and live EVE over watching EVE TV once weekly. CCP, maker of EVE, first broadcast live audio and video programs last July during a fan festival. The broadcast included a 95-match tournament, allowing viewers to see and hear all matches with commentary. I can see tournament footage being worthwhile viewing, I'm just not yet convinced a weekly broadcast about the EVE universe is going to be compelling enough--or interesting at all to outsiders. Guess I'll have to tune in on June 23!
  Home and Away: Back from Oz  
Posted 2007-05-27 by Tony Walsh
From May 16-26, I was fortunate enough to have been flown down to Australia from my home in Canada in order to share some of my new media / cross media / virtual worlds / alternate reality game learning at three separate events. I presented at the Museum of Sydney along with Gary Hayes and Guy Gadney, joined fellow instructors Hayes and Jackie Turnure at LAMP in a 1-day cross-media bootcamp for film and TV producers, and then joined Hayes, Turnure and a group of other mentors for "Story of the Future," an intensive LAMP retreat held in fabulous Freycinet, Tasmania aimed at pushing eight teams of heritage media producers towards innovative, cross-media formats and platforms.

I'd like to thank Gary Hayes, Peter Giles, and AFTRS / LAMP for arranging the junket, a highly productive working experience which reinvigorated me professionally. After 14 years in the new media business and several years in the cross-media business, I've become somewhat jaded. The LAMP residential showed me--through the eyes of the participants--that this stuff is still very new and magical. I worked closely with eight local teams, each of whom brought a high degree of enthusiasm, talent, and open-mindedness to the table. The mentors were absolutely top-notch personalities and professionals, and it was a real pleasure to be able to share mindspace with them. I learned a lot from the teams, and the mentors and am grateful to have made so many new friends. Keep your eyes on Australia, folks, there's some raging cross-media talent downunder eager to break out.
  Why ‘Heroes’ is a ‘360 Experience’  
Posted 2007-04-23 by Tony Walsh
Fabric of Folly's Dan Taylor summarizes NBC's cross-platform offerings for its TV series Heroes, which extends well beyond standard "show site" material into genre-appropriate graphic novels and user-generated content. According to Taylor, "huge swathes of unofficial audience created content" outstrips official show content by over double (not sure how he's measuring"volume of content" though).

At least a few user-generated ideas seem to feed back into the series as series creator Tim Kring says in an official video clip. The fact that fan input is captured and responded to (even if not in an obvious way) is probably one reason why the levels of user-generated content are so high (this seemed to work for LOST, too). Another reason has to be that NBC is actually permitting fan fiction and other derivative works to flourish rather than fire a barrage of lawyers across the community's bow.

Continue reading: Why ‘Heroes’ is a ‘360 Experience’
  Toronto’s Xenophile Media Racks Up The Nominations  
Posted 2007-04-16 by Tony Walsh
Toronto-based cross-platform TV company Xenophile Media has been nominated for a few awards recently, including a Interactive Emmy last month (PDF) for The ReGenesis Extended Reality Game - II, a Banff World Television Award for the Fallen Alternate Reality Game yesterday and a CNMA Award for The ReGenesis Extended Reality Game - II today. Additionally, lovely and talented Xenophile co-founder Patrick Crowe is up for a CNMA nomination for Producer of the Year. Xenophile's ARG co-productions have already accumulated a few awards, including a SXSW Web Award earlier this year for Fallen. The ReGenesis series of games scored a Gemini Award and a Banff TV Award in 2006.

I've had the opportunity to work with Xenophile on the ReGenesis series of ARGs, and the Fallen ARG as a game designer and writer. Congrats to the team at Xenophile and their fine collaborators, such as My Pet Skeleton, which brought the Oculus to life.
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