Using existing technology

Last week I attended the Merging+Media conference in Vancouver, and as I wrote last time, I'm going to continue my brief look at the topics discussed therein by looking at using existing technology. Existing Technology

One of the panels at Merging+Media was about new technologies and how they can be used in the world of converging media. Obviously, this is pretty huge -- it's the new technologies that have really brought about the concept of converging media, or at least brought it to the foreground. While transmedia properties existed decades ago, it's only in the last ten years that they've really gained any traction, and I think it's safe to say that they mostly have the internet, smart phones, and social media to thank for that.

Probably the biggest thread of discussion and agreement amongst the panelists was the urge to use existing technology in your projects. (Admittedly, the panelists may have been a bit biased, given that most of their companies license technology solutions, but nonetheless...) The idea is this: there's no need to reinvent the wheel. If you're creating a social game on Facebook, there's no need to create, wholecloth, the game platform, the social framework, and everything else you need. Technologies already exist upon which you can build your game.

By licensing existing technology, you can save months of time (and money) creating your structure, and get right to the good bits. Furthermore, it means you can get your product on the market that much faster -- and with the constantly changing landscape of browser, mobile, and social games, that can be vital.

The panel also suggested that if you are developing a new technology, you have to ask yourself -- do you want to be in the content business, using that technology, or do you actually want to be in the technology business?

I'd like to do a full run-down of the technologies the panelists talked about, including their own, but I'm not enough of a tech guy to do it justice. I'll give a brief outline instead. J Joly's company Overinteractive Media is creating a platform for social and browser games using the Unity 3D engine, for distribution, tracking, and monetization. Michael Gold's Electrotank lisences technology for building and hosting social games and developing virtual worlds. David Geetz's SoKap is a much-hailed, soon-to-launch funding service like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter, which sells promotional licenses for specific locations, rewarding people for promoting your project while also bringing a cut back to you. A couple of them also highly praised the Unity game development tool.

Social Media

A slightly separate note/conversation took place at the conference regarding social media -- in brief, existing social media are a great way to leverage projects, because the people already using them are a ready-made audience to tap into. Just look at Facebook games. Furthermore, the nature of social media makes it easy to share games or stories and spread the word of your project.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter make API available to develop your own programs using their network. And use of the sites themselves is free, making them perfect for indie projects especially. Finally, existing social media help with the illusion of reality in a story like an ARG, enhancing immersion for the audience and facilitating interaction.