I’ve spent a couple of days at the INPUT 2014 conference in Helsinki, Finland, together with 800 people predominantly from the public service media sector from all around the world. It’s been a couple of days of very in-depth looks at projects from different fields and different territories. I’ve stayed true to the cross-media track at the conference, since I’m very interested in seeing how the traditional TV world is approaching the challenges today’s media world brings.
I’m now more convinced than ever that the TV world and the world of games would need to grow closer to each other. The TV projects I’ve seen showcased here all have the same traits in common; well crafted stories, good storytelling, (often) high production value… but a fairly basic approach to multiplatform storytelling and strategies for cross media, social media and audience engagement. In my book, TV producers would learn a lot from investing some time to learn the basics of creating a game – how to create mechanics that engage and excite people? How to validate, celebrate and reward engagement? How to stand out in a very crowded marketplace?
At the same time, games producers might learn quite a lot from TV producers as well – about creating stories that resonate with people on a deeper level, about building strong story archs, about acting and directing and writing for a broad audience.
I can fully understand that the world of public service television is a bit hesitant to fully embrace the heady new winds blowing through the world of media – when you’re working on scheduling for the next six months or next year, or working against laws dictating what and how you can produce and finance… there are obstacles to overcome. I still think a certain change is needed, and it’s needed very soon. The audience is not waiting around to see what the broadcasters will do – they’re doing their thing already, very seldom reliant on any TV schedules or carefully laid-out distribution plans.
As always, the key is to know what your audience is doing and why, what they care about and not, what makes them engage in content and what makes them propagate your stories to their own friends. And, above all, the key is to have a great story to begin with.
I unfortunately missed the first two days of Input, so my knowledge of Monday’s and Tuesday’s showcased projects is limited. For me though, of all projects that were displayed on the screens here, ”Quantum Break” still remains the most interesting one. No news on when it’ll be out yet, though…
Honorable mention goes to Switzerland for ”Break-Ups” – not that it in any way was cross media, as it was a web series solely – but the writing was really good, and to Finland’s ”#lovemilla”, a comedy series for tweens, using everything from YouTube to Instagram to Ask.fm etc. True cross media, now moving into transmedia for the next series, the producers report. Fun series!
Has to go to Matias Myllyrinne from Remedy Entertainment, who pulled a quote by Michelangelo out of his sleeve at the game session on Wednesday:
” The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
Next year Input sets up shop in Tokyo. It will be interesting to see how far the industry has come then!
Simon Staffans is a content and format developer and media strategist, employed by MediaCity Finland. He works with multiplatform storytelling, transmedia development procedures and great stories. Contact him at simon.staffans(at)gmail.com or follow him on @simon.staffans.