Games are becoming an increasingly important element in transmedia projects says Guy Gadney.
Australia has a unique position in the world as a producer of some of the most enduring soap operas in the English-speaking world.
Some are still running locally, like Neighbours, currently in its 28th season. Some flowered and then withered on the great vine of Australian television.
The Restless Years was one that was axed in Australia in 1981, but the format took root in Germany and The Netherlands where it continues as a hugely popular mainstream show called Goede tijden, slechte tijden (GTST).
As the latest series reached its finale in The Netherlands, a new type of mobile transmedia experience launched whose goal is to keep the audience engaged throughout the summer break, providing new narratives, twists and turns, games and challenges over the nine-week period.
The app includes new video co-produced with Endemol which is released each Monday, new mini-games each week, and a notebook-based interface that personalises the experience into the world of the new and mysterious character, Tim.
One of the revelations in this project is how the games have been used to bring the narrative to life interactively. The games are themed around Tim’s life – from uncovering a key line in a letter, through sorting out his personal effects, to piecing together torn photos from his family history.
The app gets the user to discover new clues about Tim’s life and his identity, but what games add is an element of replayability and competitive user to user challenge. This keeps viewers engaged throughout the week after they have unlocked the content.
Games therefore become a vital part of this new transmedia palette.
The GTST project breaks new ground for broadcasters and producers, and has already surpassed its audience and engagement goals.
Its format can be used to retain audiences in the off-season, and for a fraction of the price of a nine-week series.
Guy Gadney is a director of The Project Factory.