LONDON, England – Heroes creator Tim Kring produced the Conspiracy For Good (CFG) interactive drama with Nokia over the summer. The project was what those working in media describe as a 360-degree platform – it involved mobile gaming, multiple websites, social networks, augmented reality apps, user input into the direction, live events and location-based services. All said, it was a pretty bold and innovative. But this project was described as a pilot for future interactive dramas. So, at Nokia World, we asked Tim what he had learned from the project. Find out what he said after the break.
(If you’re not familiar with the project or your memory needs refreshing, this video might help).
Nokia Conversations: So what were your main learnings from the CFG experience?
Tim Kring: Everything about the project was a learning experience. It was all new to us. How do we get started? How do we approach the concept? Perhaps the key piece of learning was to understand better the degree to which we ought to lead or follow the participants. On reflection, we probably did too much leading this time around. This summer’s Conspiracy for Good didn’t get out of control: with more confidence, we would have let the participants lead to a greater extent. It’s become the Holy Grail for content creators to have the audience looking after the direction and production – and we got glimpses of how that might be possible.
NC: What were the big surprises?
TK: I think we were all surprised by how strong the live events were. We thought that the main excitement would be at the online platforms. The live events came towards the end of the project, but when they happened we found that people were really excited and entirely happy to take part in roleplaying. That said, the live events could only touch the participants living around London, and we were looking to create a large, pervasive experience for everyone. But definitely, things work better when all the parts are closer together.
NC: So how did you find it, coming from a background in broadcast, to work on something far more participatory?
TK: Well, actually, Heroes was very much a 360-degree project as well. The web community around the show was as important and strong as the response from networks and television viewers. In fact, during the third season, when the show’s popularity on television was waning, its popularity online was booming. For some time after the show was cancelled, it was the number-one most-downloaded TV show on PirateBay. As a content creator and a storyteller, I really took heart in that.
NC: So what are the future aims for CFG?
TK: It’s pretty broad. One thing to understand is that CFG isn’t just make-believe: it’s about doing good in the world. This summer, we raised money for a number of charities, built a school library in Africa and supplied them with 10,000 books. That isn’t make-believe: it’s making a difference. Most people want to have a positive impact on the world around them, but traditional structures and institutions make it hard for them to really feel that they’re doing that. CFG created an archetypal, black-and-white fight between good and evil where participants weren’t just taking part in playacting but helping to make the world a better place.
I think a lot of people want to get behind something like that, so I see CFG evolving into an open source movement of people wanting to do good and find causes. For brands, this allows them to interact with their customers through the filter of the CFG universe. I think there’s a real, scalable business in that.
NC: Thanks, Tim, for your time.
Did you take part in Conspiracy For Good? What was your experience of the project?