The Rules of Convergence (or at least a start): Part 2July 6, 2007
Continuing from yesterday’s post…
Collaborative interaction is where users come together to decide upon the worth of content or create content together. Obvious examples would be Digg and Wikipedia, but polls constitute the least involving example. Beyond polls this is the kind of interactivity most brands/IPs/Franchises have rarely experimented with. Penguin books are one of the few brands to attempt this with their Millions of Penguins wiki book. This medium currently lends itself most easily to written interaction, so would appeal to IPs/franchises open to fanfiction fpr example, but there is plenty of scope for wiki based collaboration on any number of topics. Like social interaction there are obviously censorship and editing issues that need to be considered, so it is important to have consistent admins who can monitor the situation. MMOs like Second Life and World of Warcraft also offer the opportunity for colloboration – in the former building sims is far easier and less time-consuming when their are many hands working on a project, in the latter content such as instances and PvP require group collaboration to acheive success.
Gameplay is one of the simplest forms of interactivity, but can also be one of the most compelling. Many brands/IPs/franchises have simple games on their websites and although there are no statistics to my knowledge on the level of user engagement with them, the growth in casual gaming suggests that they could be very successful. One of the benefits games offer is the chance to reward users, even as simple a form as ‘points’ or a ‘position’ on a scoreboard, rewards build loyalty and increase stickiness as many users we will to ‘beat’ their own scores and so on. However games alos offer the opportunity to reward users with virtual objects or currency with which they can improve their gameplay chances or even that can be translated into real life rewards. Anyone doubting the value of virtual goods should read this Techcrunch article to be reassured. Games come in so many forms ranging from story driven to abstract that virtually any brand/franchise/IP can build a game based on its features.
Narrative interactivity is the experience the user gets of being part of a ‘story’. Interactive mediums such as computer games are very good at situating the user in a storyline or context, particularly when they’re based on or adaptations of movie franchises. Clearly this kind of interactivity is more suited to narrative driven media, such as fictional IPs, there is no reason why brands can’t construct narratives around their product or service (think adverts).
Although consumption is usually seen as a ‘passive’ and non-interactive experience, but this is not strictly the truth, traditionally this is the level at which most people have interacted with brands and there is certianly no reason why this should cease to be a part of the interactive formula. As online successes such as Amazon and Ebay, books like The Long Tail and the Techcrunch article I link to above prove new technological mediums offer new ways to sell goods, virtual or otherwise. Ringtones proved it in the mobile phone market a short while ago, now games appear to be the new downloadable must-have. Interactive mediums can allow for different kinds of consumption, more convenient and more personal, it’s a big step in the evolution of comsumption so companies should explore all the options available and be very willing experiment with this option.