The genre known as reality television sprang into existence
thanks to a drop in camera costs and increased digital storage,
editing and effects capabilities. Now, as we enter the acceleration
era, consistently dropping technology costs and new software
capabilities will enable a radical transformation in in the sorts
of reality shows we see on broadcast television and on YouTube.
One particularly potent reality TV catalyst will be nascent
virtual worlds technologies like Second Life, Multiverse and There which will not only
make possible high-end machinima (animation
via virtual world action capture, which is already taking off), but
also totally new, ultimately genre-busting, broadcast worthy
Back when I lived in LA and worked in reality television and at
the same time encountered virtual worlds for the first time, I
would often image the amazing reality shows that will soon be
possible as production technologies and practices evolve. For your
enjoyment and as a demonstration of just how crazy television
programming is about to get, here’s my current top 10 list of
future virtual world enabled reality TV shows that I’d love to see
1. U-BOAT: 25 contestants live aboard a submarine set and
engage in the historical experience of a lifetime. They must
quickly learn to navigate the craft through a virtual ocean
simulation and a string of dramatic WWII
battle scenarios. To both the contestants and the viewer at home it
looks and feels as if these modern day Americans are actually
piloting the submarine and narrowly staving off infamous Nazi
2. THE BOARD ROOM: The new
flagship marketing vehicle for Milton Bradley is an augmented
reality game show that allows contestants to literally step right
onto their favorite all-time board games. To the audience at home,
it resembles The Price is Right in game structure, but visually
looks like the participants have jumped into a Tron-like world with
their favorite games all around them.
3. REQUIEM: Each episode of
Requiem features one near-death person (young, old, terminal,
famous, interesting, compelling life story) as they leave behind a
3-D “plot” of land for the world. Each individual is given the
opportunity to create a 3-D world in which they deposit memories,
images and descriptions of loved ones, candid descriptions of
historic and historical events, favorite memories, renderings of
their dreams, final farewells, and warnings to society. (cont.)
Prediction: Alternate Reality Gaming and Reality Television will converge in a big way by 2013.
Alternate Reality Gaming is a new “interactive narrative structure that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions”, as defined on Wikipedia. Basically, that means a fictitious scenario played out atop the real world.
To date, most of the massively popular ARGs such as The Lost Experience and I Love Bees have been largely organized through the web while serving a broader marketing purpose. But as the genre 1) continues to gain in popularity and 2) the cost of high quality video production continues to decline, it is likely they will gradually develop into a self-sustaining industry capable of generating programs that equal or exceed contemporary broadcast television quality.
This will be made possible by the proliferation of ultra-cheap and capable DV cams, easy and broad wi-fi transfer of footage, smart footage databses, and robust computers/editing programs that can effortlessly manage more video feeds and increase prduction quality in numerous other ways.
For example, it will soon become possible to organize a theme party (i.e., Presidential Campaign Trail), set some basic game rules (i.e. Everyone Must Dress Accordingly, Deliver Stump Speeches, then Vote for the Party President), record the entire experience, and then quickly edit it into a final product good enough to air on, say, a channel like VH1. My guess is amateurs will be capable of producing such programming inside of 5 years time – though by then the primary audience will likely be web-based.
That being the hypothesis, here’s a list of 10 other ARG/Reality Show concepts that I think could be produced over the next 5 years:
1.THE SENATE: This active political reality show pits 100 Americans against one another as they seek re-election by effectively role-playing a live Senate situation. Political parties are formed and dissolved, legislation is proposed and voted on, current events and wild-card situations add spice and flavor. Ultimately, the show serves to mirror and parody real-life politics.
2. FANTASY WILDERNESS ADVENTURE: Small fun-to-watch groups role play a harrowing Robin-Hood-style journey through the wilderness. They proceed from elegant or hilarious sketch-to-sketch and interact with B-actors and extras playing various medieval roles. The final product is an edited story that can be inter-cut with other groups on parallel or complementary adventures.
3. HISTORY: Participants are placed into unique historical and fictional scenarios and must use their role-playing skills to turn the situation to their advantage, often creating alternate versions of past events. The best role-players proceed to the finals where they interact with one another in a grand scenario. Expert judges (historians, psychologists, acting coaches) eliminate the worst player-actors until just one is left standing.
4. HACK ATTACK: America’s best hackers all try to crack a multi-layered and formidable website. They film their efforts via web-cam and provide interview commentary via Skype. The best footage, of both the game leaders and the most interesting personalities, is cut into regular episodes.
5. SECRET AGENT: Ordinary Americans are placed in extraordinary spy situations and must react and solve their assignment. They must unravel clues, decide which characters to trust, and ultimately survive the adventure. The winners are the ones who score the most points by achieving goals in the shortest time span.
Move over Ray Kurzweil, here’s the Scenario Land version of the upcoming Singularity Movie. And guess what – the Singularity just happened!
Note: Make sure the movie loads fully before watching. I am trying to upload it to YouTube, but the feature is still buggy as Xtra Normal is in beta.
Using the new Xtra Normal platform, the above video took just 30 minutes to produce. This forward-step in super-user-friendly machinima brings us just a little closer to a scenario that I like to call The Toon Point, the time when virtual-world-generated video equals the average quality of a Saturday morning cartoon created in 2005. (Why 2005? Because that’s roughly when I began thinking about the notion of a Toon Point.)
Ever since my days in the West Hollywood Metaverse House, as my buddy and former roommate Jerry Paffendorf likes to call it, I’ve been a fan of virtual worlds and looking forward to The Toon Point. Due to their ability to incorporate and network other communication technologies, the potential of virtual worlds as an Interactive Communication Technology is simply astounding, and is reflected in their rapid diffusion patterns.
Upwards of 50 million people have access to web video through their televisions today thanks to Google, Sony and Nintendo, who have collaborated to bring YouTube videos to the Wii (50 million units sold by March) and PS3 (12 million units sold) through a custom version of the popular site modified for larger home screens.
From the YouTube blog: Currently in beta, the TV Website offers a dynamic, lean-back, 10-foot television viewing experience through a streamlined interface that enables you to discover, watch and share YouTube videos on any TV screen with just a few quick clicks of your remote control. With enlarged text and simplified navigation, it makes watching YouTube on your TV as easy and intuitive as possible. Optional auto-play capability enables users to view related videos sequentially, emulating a traditional television experience. The TV Website is available internationally across 22 geographies and in over 12 languages.
Many bloggers, including this one, have been anticipating this moment for some time, speculating that 2009 will at last be the year of Web Video on TV. Today's mostrous event clinches that moniker, making it extremely likely that by year's end upwards of 100 million game console viewers will have access to YouTube and other web video broadcast platforms through their traditional televisions. (Simply factor in the XBox reaction and ongoing Wii and PS3 sales.)
Couple that with the explosion of TV units capable of playing online video and we could be looking at 150-200 million total devices, a future that Google is looking to accelerate:
December 03 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2018 Rating: 1
The University of Aberdeen in the UK has declared that a fully-holographic television (like in Star Wars, yes) is entirely possible by 2018. They base this conclusion on research of their own on holograpic technologies as well as emerging 3D-like televisions that promise to go on sale in the next three to four years. "Whilst the ultimate 3D experience, using fully interactive floating holographic images - similar to that which is seen when Princess Leia appears in front of Luke Skywalker as a hologram in Star Wars - could be on the market by 2018." The team came to this conclusion after recieving $350,000 in funding to study timelines, possibilities and possible applications of a fully holographic television.
The question I find myself asking (other than why someone would still use "whilst" in a sentence) is why someone would even want a holographic television. In every view of the future we see, holograms aren't used for television, but for interactions and display. It will be interesting to see how the public will react to holographic televisions, and how long it will take for them to give way to holographic commmunication and fake girlfriends (Sixth Day). If anything, expect at least five months of Princess Leia parodies once this comes out.