Thoughts from ARGFest: Avoiding the Formula

Math Formulas When it comes to creating transmedia stories, there's been a lot of buzz and offered advice out there (as there tends to be with any new opportunity; we're all social media consultants, aren't we?), and a lot of it tries to lay out some general patterns and ideas.

  • Build a rich storyworld that goes beyond one story.
  • Put your property out across multiple platforms. This will let you capitalize on more things and make more money.
  • Nurture your audience. Build for interactivity. Build a community.
  • Pull the audience in. Engage them with gamification and make core fans of as many as possible.

But that's not what's going to make a transmedia property successful -- whether you're coming from the "ARG" side or "franchise" side of things (or somewhere in the middle, like me). If everyone just follows the patterns that are out there, we're going to have a lot of the same vying for our attention. Why will I care about your particular blend of media and interactive elements?

As David Varela said at ARGFest, if there was a formula for good ARGs [or other transmedia properties], they would be formulaic.

Sure, find the advice that's out there that works for you. But the key that will make you stand out is to make it interesting. The Beast was amazing because it had never been done before. It wouldn't work again, as it was. To stand out in an innovative industry, you have to be, y'know, innovative.