Tell Me A Story… And It Better Be A Good One.

h/t to Slashdot for this…

Apparently, there’re plans afoot to blend a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) with a weekly TV show on the Sci-Fi Network in the US. Most of the reaction in the blogosphere have pointed towards this being ill-advised. I agree, but perhaps for different reasons than “It’s gonna suck.”

The thinking behind the plan is fairly obvious: Create so-called appointment viewing, or getting fans to watch a show as it’s being broadcast, rather than on a DVR such as TiVo or from a Bittorrent, so that viewers must watch the advertisements. The MMORPG has the added benefit of providing engagement and continuity so that the show remains top of mind for the viewer base, and they feel particularly involved in the story.

Dave Howe, CEO of the Sci-Fi Channel commented:

“A television show that is on once a week isn’t enough. The fans today want the experience to go beyond that. For example, we can tell them that there will be an alien invasion at a certain place in the game, at a certain time, and to be there with all their friends and be ready. The outcome depends on them. And then that battle will be part of the universe in the show.”

Here’s why it won’t work… Simply put, viewers make bad writers. Part of the great experience of watching TV is to be led through a narrative, being surprised, horrified, and even disappointed. We WANT to talk about it at the watercooler, we WANT to blog about what a great (or crap) choice the writers and producers of the show have made.

The best shows on TV are those that don’t have to listen to their fanbase, and that keep them guessing. It’s also the reason that every choose your own adventure interactive TV show has failed.

For the foreseeable future, narrative TV will remain a lean-back experience, and as such, will require writers and producers to continue to take risks and deliver that ultimately elusive experience: innovation.

Links:
Slashdot | Sci-Fi Channel Merging TV Show with MMO
The original blog posting

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