Projects 2009 > Viral Spiral > Journal
Here’s a good question – a specific question pertinent to our audience controlled improvised drama-creation game that also applies to any media that relies on input from it’s audience. How do we prevent audience input being inversely proportional to quality? If you give your audience more control over your output, how do you prevent arriving at a lowest common denominator?
Many interactive media fake their interactivity in order to retain quality control. Many offer simple AB choices that don’t change the narrative direction of the drama (eg Dubplate Drama) Wannabes offered an AB choice with some elaborate database manipulation to give a personalised journey for each audience member. Very few give the audience the power to control the forward direction of the drama (Save the Workers). Away from drama, Big Brother, the most successful interactive format yet devised, does offer real power to its audience. As does Crimewatch, which is one of the earliest and longest running interactive formats on TV. Here the audience can help solve a crime and get someone sent to prison. That’s real power.
One of my favourite reality show formats was on 5 or 6 years ago and had some people living in a flat thinking they were in a reality TV show but not knowing that half of them were actors and that a pair of writers were creating story lines live that they were sending to the actors via phone calls. The game ran until things got so absurd that the ‘real people’ realised what was going on. They’d then be instantly replaced with the next victims. It only did one series, probably too edgy for the BBC, but I really enjoyed watching the challenge of improvising and writing live and the impact that had on the dupes.
In our acting game we offer power and control to the audience. How do we mediate that power so that it doesn’t blunt the subtlety of the writers? If you are looking for an answer to this question, hopefully you’ll be able to find it in our finished format. Until then we’re testing and thinking our way through this inverse quality relationship to turn it on its head.