Interactive and traditional media have been converging for some time. Taking cues from TV and film, games have vastly improved their narrative techniques, cinematography and pacing, growing into multi-part, episodic narrative odysseys with multifaceted characters and deep, believable settings.
Movies and TV, for their part, have been somewhat slower in adopting the techniques and potential of gaming, but that’s something we expect to change at a tidy pace.
Whilst we’ve seen interesting experiments in applying interactivity to traditional passive media, much bigger changes are yet to come. And people are ready: in a recent survey of consumers worldwide, DFC Intelligence found that more than 85% of respondents said they would interact with video content if they could, and more than half indicated a willingness to pay for that ability.
As connected experiences, user agency and personalised consumption become more prominent, Genvid sees more traditional media formats adopting aspects of the innate interactivity of gaming to grow beyond their boundaries. That means more than just allowing viewers to pick storyline decisions which they experience on their own. Our vision is centred on the enjoyment of communal storytelling and joint experiences.
Massive Interactive Live Events
MILEs are a brand new format for interactive entertainment that bring the engagement audiences crave to low-overhead livestreams. MILEs offer participants choices between relaxed, lean-back experiences, or a more engaged lean-in format. We believe that MILEs will be one of the key driving forces behind this convergence of media experiences.
Because they’re device agnostic and require no downloads, MILEs have extremely low barriers to entry, making them accessible by huge numbers of people. Their ability to offer intensive interactivity or more relaxed viewing, often in the same experience, also makes them appealing to broad audiences with wide interests, bridging the gap between super fans and more casual consumers. MILEs bring huge audiences together in shared experiences, with huge potential for community building, customer engagement and all types of monetisation.
Imagine a soap opera where each viewer picks their preferred camera and the audience is collectively able to influence the storylines; game shows where contestants can turn to a live online audience for help; or horror films where shouting at a would-be-victim not to open the cellar door can actually save their life. All of this can happen in real-time, on any connected, video-capable device, serving audiences of millions who are all sharing the same experience.
This sense of community, of shared experience and friendly rivalry, is an absolutely massive factor in the enjoyment of many audiences. It’s one of the fundamental psychological influences behind the enjoyment of watching sports, going to the cinema or going to concerts, yet it’s something which broadcast media, by its nature a relatively solitary experience, has struggled to capture. MILEs have the ability to change that.
Proto-MILEs and the next steps
We’ve already seen proto-MILEs having enormous success. Successive concerts in Fortnite, the highest-profile examples so far, have attracted ever-larger audiences – Ariana Grande’s performance in August is estimated to have been attended by an incredible 78 million people. Those audiences are already being treated to experiences that wouldn’t be possible at a concert in person, turning these virtual events into something where the best aspects of live experiences are augmented by everything a digital platform makes possible.
Netflix’s experiments with interactive narrative, notably Bandersnatch, are also moving towards a convergence of gaming mechanics with broadcast TV. The streaming giant has now produced a total of 15 interactive titles, with more on the way like Halloween: Escape the Undertaker. But each playthrough of Bandersnatch, You Vs. Wild or Minecraft: Story Mode is limited to just the people watching the TV – there’s no shared experience.
Given the company’s upcoming push into full-blown games and transmedia strategy, you can expect that Netflix will look to extend their interactive experiences into something that combines gaming and the sort of water-cooler moments its series generate.
With MILEs, a single instance of an interactive broadcast can be streamed, with audiences all over the globe influencing and experiencing the same virtual world, everyone sharing the same event. Or you can have a single stream that is being viewed differently by every household as participants choose the camera angle, outfit or even the faces of the characters on screen for their own streams. MILEs offer the flexibility of personalisation at the same time as a shared, meaningful experience.
These performances are just the beginning. We believe that MILEs will become the glue that holds wider transmedia texts together, fleshing out wider worlds and character backstory with jump-in and jump-out streams available 24/7; places where fans can delve into the lore around their favourite IPs.
We also see MILEs taking a role in civic processes, facilitating referenda or registering opinions in an electoral candidate debate, empowering distance learning or even remote working.
We’re already experimenting with ideas that can push interactive experiences into new realms. Project Raven is our vision for the horror genre, exploring what could be achieved with a horror MILE where the audience can influence the action of the cast, helping them to find clues and escape the killer. We think it’s a great blueprint for the fresh depth and engagement that MILEs can bring to a genre that has been explored for generations.
The metaverse and beyond
The connectedness of modern society will continue to develop – and the evolution of the internet and other communication technology will continue to give us new ways to share experiences.
At the centre of that will be the metaverse – a single, connected online experience that allows users to move seamlessly from one experience to the next. The foundation of that metaverse will revolve around the evolution of entertainment formats, enabling them to fully realise the advantages offered by new technologies. MILEs will be one of the key ways that will happen.
The metaverse is founded on three clear pillars: community, accessibility and personal expression. MILEs share these founding principles, making them uniquely suited to flourish as the metaverse takes shape. Don’t get left behind: run your first MILE with Genvid.
The Genvid MILEs SDK provides a tech stack that empowers you to deploy interactive cloud experiences using fully managed infrastructure, synchronised data streaming, scalable input ingestion, and is easy to integrate into off-the-shelf game engines or proprietary solutions. Find out more and download the free Genvid MILE SDK.