TV and Games Mashup: Big Brother

Synchronicity is abound on the web. I was chatting with a very smart guy in New Zealand last week, and he mentioned he owns VirtualMe.co.nz. Someone tried to purchase it from him (a big law firm) and we were wondering what it was all about. I thought it might be to do with that avatar customer service concept. I can’t remember if I said so at the time, I was stuffing my face with some very nice pizza, but I would’ve been wrong. Not that you needed to know the last bit, about pizza. Anywaaay, – voila, ITWire to the rescue:

Does interactive entertainment need “Big Brother”?
EA have teamed up with international TV production company Endemol to create “Virtual Me”. Bringing a link to reality television and online gaming

Gaming behemoth Electronic Arts has announced plans to develop a Second Life style of “game” in conjunction with Endemol, specifically targeting the reality TV show Big Brother as inspiration for the concept.

EA’s Executive Vice President Gerhard Florin sees the endeavour as something new; “With Virtual Me we are at the forefront of a new, hybrid form of entertainment that takes gaming beyond the console. Endemol is a great partner to help us bring together the best of TV and video games for an offering that can appeal to mass market audiences and change the face of entertainment”

Given the popularity of Massive Multiplayer Online Games such as World of Warcraft, and online communities such as Second Life and the up-coming PlayStation home, it is not surprising corporations seek to exploit the online cash-cow.

And EA are masters of the Cash-Cow milk, how many more sequels/expansions of The SIMS 2 can the market absorb, it seems endless.

In Virtual Me, players (!) will create an avatar to inhabit a variety of TV-related worlds and interact with other avatars in a social setting, whether this interaction will then be brought to TV audiences is a little unclear right at this moment.

I imagine that I will hate it, I already hate the Big Brother TV show, I already dislike the influence big business and big money is having on the games industry. A link can already be made to the Hollywood movie industry, gaming has become such a big money spinner, that the investment developers must make in order to get a title into the mainstream consciousness is vast, meaning ‘risk taking’ in design is pushed to the rear as companies rely on safe bet game options.

So we end up with endless SIMS 2 expansions and now, beyond safe game design, we are now venturing into safe and cheap game design.

As TV companies have realised for some time now, ‘reality TV’ is cheap to make, yet still popular. EA have succumbed to this lure, we wait to see the results of their efforts, and giving ‘players’ the freedom to make the game whatever they want, may prove to be an intriguing concept that ends up moving the gaming paradigm conceptually.

At this point I will refrain from saying “it is time to go….. Virtual Me”.

I agree with Mike Bantick. Reminds me of my T-Shirt from Remo – Me 2.0. The new improved version. :p I’m not a big fan of Second Life for businesses – the ROI only counts if you get the publicity you were seeking – so not sure how these sorts of virtual worlds will fare.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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