Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Live blog - BBC

(Simon Nelson, Controller, Portfolio & Multi-Platform, BBC Vision)

Good afternoon. I've only been in my current job for about 6 months - previously with the BBC including interfactive parts in radio. I've been trying to get my head around all sorts of television related issues. Today I'm talking about theories on what the BBC and game industry have in common, how can we make the BBC more playful and collaboration between the BBC and the wider entertainment industry.

(Aside: He's using elements of play. )

Contrary to popular announcements, I'm not announcing anything new.

We're in a world now where there are no monopolies on our attention. (Big brother screen) Younger generations are not watching as much television. If you're born in 1989, you watch 12 hours a week compared to 18 hours for your parents. We can't be sure that we'll ever return to these levels. The BBC loyalist is getting older.

The games industry is very similar, in a newer model of that boat. My wife and I used to play games together instead of watching television. But my current life stage is as time poor as I've ever been.

A recent US study said three quarters of teens said their attention for games is declining. However, you guys are way ahead of us, in adapting to this new audience.

This aging of the original audience allows us to reach new demographics in new ways.

What can a broadcaster learn from these bad experiences?

BBCs own game history began in 1982 with the BBC Micro. It helped spawn a generation of bedroom coders.

The bbc.co.uk/games portal was closed because its value for audiences was outweighed by negative market impact.

We've had some experience in creating these immersive experiences alongside our existing content. This means of engaging audiences which brought in an audience 64% under the age of 30, which is much younger than the demographic for the programs linked to this content.

The BBC has also functioned as a resource for intellectual property for the games industry. e.g. Little Britain (Eurogamer review highlighted here).

(Diagram from book Rules of Play) Games / Play / Ludic Activity. Example of Frisbee as Ludic Activity.

This is something we're seeing widely on the internet at the moment (Slide of Playful web). The "obligatory facebook" mention - about 50,000 players every day get the zombie activity. These nothing particularly interesting about the zombie application. But these things are frisbees.

(Provides an example for I'm in like with you.) This is a place where you have fun creating your own frisbees and have fun throwing them.

(The final battle - Paul Denchfield. An ARG game with Frozen Indigo Angel as the keywords.)

Part of our new approach at the BBC is to create more social objects that can be used interactively across the Internet. That allow us to participate, create and share objects we want to watch. We need to find ways to use our content and broader expertise to stimulate audiences to participate, to grow up around the content we create.

(1. Creating games from worlds / creating worlds from games.) We've been turning BBC fictions into interactive entertainment for some time. Shows like Heroes are epics that play out through the web, in comics and on TV and fans dissect these and create a narrative more effectively than the content producers that create them.

(Example of life on Mars) This show excited a huge amount of debate, speculation and fun over the internet, little of which was created by us. The biggest world that we have is probably inhabited by the Doctor. Sometimes its irreverence that works the best (Lego Starwars example). It relies on a creative partnership that we'd have to take to another level. While television creation is a core competency of the BBC, but games creation is not.

(Example of Signs of Life & Endemol) - (Plays signs of life promo)

I'm going to finish with Adventure Rock, developed with Larian studios. Children will be able to wander around an island filled with CBBC content. (Shows adventure rock preview - its sold more like the Matrix, which is a little weird. Static over voice overs etc. Lots of double-jumping).

Q: What's driven the BBC's strategy on this? Is it the lack of participation of younger customers?

The history of this space, at least on line, has been over the last 7 or 8 years. We have a mandate to innovate, and this is part of this. And we attempt to create richer spaces around the content that we already create.

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