ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.10 - JANUARY 2001
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Shockwave's Tamale Loco is an interactive game available to anyone with access to the Internet. © Shockwave.com.
Types of Interactivity
Let's take a minute to explore some of these interactive opportunities:
Competing and Playing -- perhaps the simplest to understand, playing is best represented by games which embrace a variety of genres: action, adventure, sports, simulation, puzzles. Games are often played many times before growing old, which can make them valuable properties. However, they tend to be lighter on story and character than other entertainment experiences. Historically, playing has often relied heavily on the audience and not so much on the author. This puts the suspension of disbelief at risk. Today, there are advances being made to reconcile this rift between puzzle and prose and within the next year perhaps we will see an elegant marriage between games and narrative.
Sony's Photo Jam is available for download on Shockwave's site and allows users to create personalized photo presentations synched to their favorite music. © Shockwave.com.
Inventing and Building -- some of the most powerful interactive tools on the Web are those which allow users to create their very own content. People spend hours importing pictures, editing their music and building their portfolio of self-generated art. The beauty of these applications is in their simplicity and the empowerment that they bestow. The entertainment experience includes the act of creation itself and the satisfaction of performing for others. Today's basic creation tools often lack any sense of character or story but again, in the coming year this may change.
Sharing and Communing -- many times content that users create is shared with others within an online community. Often users post thoughts on message boards or contribute opinions to a poll. These simple formats are just the beginning of community on the Web. More inspired, better integrated communities are starting to evolve, ones which literally wrap into existing brands, characters or narrative content and draw the user into the experience. These communities help to strengthen a brand's impact, hold a user's attention longer and deepen the overall experience.
Another part of Shockwave's available line-up, Tim Burton's World of Stainboy, offers clips, character studies and play time. © Shockwave.com.
Speaking and Listening -- clearly the most elusive of all interactive tools, the Web can allow a narrative to become a conversation. The listener becomes the speaker. The speaker becomes the listener. The story becomes a truly emmersive experience. In the past, there have been a number of logistical difficulties putting this into practice. Again, how does one maintain that suspension of disbelief? However, this form also promises to be one of the most compelling.
That's a very brief summary of some of the opportunities within interactivity that are still in their infancy. Despite our tendency to gravitate toward what we know, a few brave pioneers are beginning to emerge. On Shockwave alone, I've seen several examples that leverage each of these opportunities. Tamale Loco ties character and story into the proven thrill of a side-scrolling adventure game; the new Photo Jam lets users create their own media-rich photo presentation; a Def Tones video allows people to share their images with others in future evolving video releases; and Tim Burton's World of Stainboy is an immersive, community-based environment encouraging viewers to explore its richness of characters and narrative.
The Deftones' new video for their song "Back to School" is featured on Shockwave along with an interactive game and band bio. © Shockwave.com.
It's an exciting time for entertainment. A revolution as significant as television is at hand and the audience is waiting. According to market-research firm Cyber Dialogue, over 25 million users are demanding to interact with media online. Perhaps with the right application of these interactive opportunities, one that engages the audience without sacrificing the ancient art of storytelling, we will find our Lucy.
Views expressed in this article are those of Eric Oldrin, and not necessarily that of shockwave.com.
Eric Oldrin is the senior producer of series and show content for Shockwave. Since joining Shockwave, Oldrin has produced and developed some of its key content, including Tim Burton's World of Stainboy. Prior to joining Shockwave, Oldrin helped build Mondo Media's online animation studio and produced The God and Devil Show, Thugs on Film and Like, News. Before that, he created games at America Online's WorldPlay Entertainment and Sierra Online's Imagination Network. Eric holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Pomona College.
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