This is an update on the continuing adventures of my experimental narrative game called “The Viral Sockpuppets“. This post documents the events that transpired in and around the game during the month of August 2011.
Collaboration is a very difficult thing to inspire within people, especially when you are playing in a domain populated by people with very strong personal goals. I have not been able to reach out to an audience much larger then my own personal network, which is full of other artists and creatives furiously working and developing their own personal projects. I have been unable to communicate the collective power that I imagine the Viral Sockpuppets could potentially be. The core drive for the project was to create something that would be creatively beneficial to everyone involved. I wanted to create a project that could be owned by every participant, as well as, something that would connect us all with a creative endeavor larger then any individual person could accomplish on their own. The V.S.P. is supposed to be that project.
After several years of researching how the YouTube community works, I have learned the key to success on YouTube is through consistency and collaboration. Over the years the YouTube community has been growing rapidly through successful and creative collaborative projects. BlackboxTV is a prime example of this collaborative success. Tony V., the creator of BlackboxTV, had a brilliant idea to launch his channel. He knew that great storytelling alone would not be enough to hit the popular critical mass needed to produce a sustainable video series online. So in addition to the great stories he had to tell, he also decided to cast some of YouTube’s already established Internet celebrities into exciting legitimate acting roles, effectively guaranteeing an audience for his videos. Who would of thought to cast YouTube sensations like Philip Defranco (Click here to watch Philips BlackBoxTV video) and iJustine (Click here to watch iJustine’s BlackBocTV video) as lead cast members in horror stories, Tony did it, and it worked.
Cross promoting projects and ideas is one of the big things that Marvel comics did to achieve their goals (Having Spider Man show up in an Xmen comic for example), and it’s just as effective to introduce the Epic Meal Time crew to the world by featuring them in an over the top Freddie Wong action video (Click here to watch it). It’s not just guest stars, but guest creators as well. Check out what happens when great creative minds like “Rhett & Link” collaborate with “MysteryGuitarMan” (Watch the video here), the result was a fantastic viral video, which greatly expanded the audience for everyone involved.
With the Viral Sockpuppets, my intent was to create a community of D.I.Y. storytelling artists (filmmakers, YouTubers, writers, actors, animators, and musicians) that would be able to play and create a story world together. This cross channel collaboration, would not only help connect these creative artists to other like-minded storytellers, it would also help create an audience building environment for all of the collaborators in the game experience; sort of like taking the fictional story world of the Marvel universe and having YouTubers cast themselves into various exciting character roles.
Thus far I have only been able to communicate my concept to a small handful of players. The rest of my network seems to not have time to participate. I will continue to build this world until it holds enough weight to suck other players into our gravitational pull, but I will vary the ridged schedule a bit, tossing a few different kinds of video into the channel, furthering my experimentation in the world of interactive narrative.
So the story continues…
Meanwhile, our August dilemma continued when Breadfoot’s narrative suggestion won the popular vote. His suggestion called “Giddy Up” stated that Uncle Pappy should run and call the cops. (Please watch it here)
After Pappy received this news from his heroic pal, he took him up on his word and ran away to call the cops. Unfortunately, things did not work out so well. (Please watch the episode here).
The episode concluded with the cops discovery of a detective that had been shot, and Uncle Pappy asking the good folks out in YouTuber land if they knew who shot Pinkerton. The following videos were submitted to the moderator panel as story suggestions:
and finally We Search U’s response:
After a few weeks passed, time enough for players to submit their videos, it was time for a new Viral Sockpuppets News Brief in order to alert the audience of current events and the narrative options which populated the months decision tree.
In this news brief, I wanted to experiment with the personality of the news anchor and also express some of my personal frustrations with the lack of player participation. Alas, there was enough participation to keep the narrative interesting and developing so I continued the game. (Please watch the news brief here):
After the voting deadline was met, the clear winner was Breadfoot.
This was his second win during this narrative season, thus securing his win of the game round. The September dilemma video was set to become a transitional video ending Uncle Pappy’s role of protagonist, and beginning a new narrative, featuring Breadfoot as the main character. (Please watch the announcement of the winner here):
Please visit the YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/blightproductions in order to watch the transition video and submit your response video. You have until the end of September to participate in this narrative decision.
Brian A. Bernhard