10 Future Reality Shows Enabled By Alternate Reality Gaming

September 12 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 4

Prediction: Alternate Reality Gaming and Reality Television will converge in a big way by 2013.

Alternate Reality Gaming is a new “interactive narrative structure that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions”, as defined on Wikipedia. Basically, that means a fictitious scenario played out atop the real world.

To date, most of the massively popular ARGs such as The Lost Experience and I Love Bees have been largely organized through the web while serving a broader marketing purpose. But as the genre 1) continues to gain in popularity and 2) the cost of high quality video production continues to decline, it is likely they will gradually develop into a self-sustaining industry capable of generating programs that equal or exceed contemporary broadcast television quality.

This will be made possible by the proliferation of ultra-cheap and capable DV cams, easy and broad wi-fi transfer of footage, smart footage databses, and robust computers/editing programs that can effortlessly manage more video feeds and increase prduction quality in numerous other ways.

For example, it will soon become possible to organize a theme party (i.e., Presidential Campaign Trail), set some basic game rules (i.e. Everyone Must Dress Accordingly, Deliver Stump Speeches, then Vote for the Party President), record the entire experience, and then quickly edit it into a final product good enough to air on, say, a channel like VH1. My guess is amateurs will be capable of producing such programming inside of 5 years time – though by then the primary audience will likely be web-based.

That being the hypothesis, here’s a list of 10 other ARG/Reality Show concepts that I think could be produced over the next 5 years:

1.THE SENATE: This active political reality show pits 100 Americans against one another as they seek re-election by effectively role-playing a live Senate situation. Political parties are formed and dissolved, legislation is proposed and voted on, current events and wild-card situations add spice and flavor. Ultimately, the show serves to mirror and parody real-life politics.

2. FANTASY WILDERNESS ADVENTURE: Small fun-to-watch groups role play a harrowing Robin-Hood-style journey through the wilderness. They proceed from elegant or hilarious sketch-to-sketch and interact with B-actors and extras playing various medieval roles. The final product is an edited story that can be inter-cut with other groups on parallel or complementary adventures.

3. HISTORY: Participants are placed into unique historical and fictional scenarios and must use their role-playing skills to turn the situation to their advantage, often creating alternate versions of past events. The best role-players proceed to the finals where they interact with one another in a grand scenario. Expert judges (historians, psychologists, acting coaches) eliminate the worst player-actors until just one is left standing.

4. HACK ATTACK: America’s best hackers all try to crack a multi-layered and formidable website. They film their efforts via web-cam and provide interview commentary via Skype. The best footage, of both the game leaders and the most interesting personalities, is cut into regular episodes.

5. SECRET AGENT: Ordinary Americans are placed in extraordinary spy situations and must react and solve their assignment. They must unravel clues, decide which characters to trust, and ultimately survive the adventure. The winners are the ones who score the most points by achieving goals in the shortest time span.

6. SEX CHANGE: What’s it like to be a member of the opposite sex? Groups of males and females role play the opposite genders in real life situations. Each participant is filmed by an undercover crew as they interact with their own family, friends and workplace. The contestants that cannot maintain their cover are eliminated weekly until just one cross-gender champion is left standing.

7. MYST RL: Contestants find themselves on a deserted island must solve riddles, puzzles and scenarios in order to unlock the secret at the heart of the adventure. Like on The Mole, those that make the least progress are eliminated. It kind of like LOST meets a board game.

8. THE GREAT EASTER EGG HUNT: America’s best riddle-solvers proceed from puzzle to puzzle in a race to capture the most golden Easter eggs. It’s like the Amazing Race with the emphasis placed on the brain.

9.SHERLOCK: Forensics experts, cops and other investigators all compete to see who can solve the same crime in the shortest amount of time. It’s CSI + Sherlock Holmes + a game show.

10. CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE: Thousands of actors submit scenarios and adventure contingencies that are then threaded together into a massive open-ended honeycomb structure with dozens of possible endings. 20 game players then start a variable adventure from the same spot, but wind up taking different paths resulting in different fates. They gain critical tools and earn prizes along the way. Web viewers can subscribe to their favorite contestants’ feeds.

THEME PARTY: Each episode of Theme Party will feature an eclectic set of party-goers thrown into a hilarious game situation. Viewers will watch the drama unfold, rooting for their favorite characters to win the party, or better yet, hook up.

Any others you can think of or in which you’d like to participate?

Alvis Brigis is a former reality television producer and story editor who has worked on programs such as Motormouth (VH1), The Simple Life 2 (FOX), Making the Band 3 (MTV), House of Boateng (Sundance) and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search (NBC). This post is the third in a series exploring the future of the genre.

If you enjoyed this piece also be sure to check out these earlier posts on near-future Massive and Virtual World Based reality shows.

Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. Great article, Alvis, thanks!

    Just to let you know, we’re currently developing 5. and 9. which should be ready by year’s end. For now, we’ve got a watered down version of 10. running in the form of http://www.deletedthegame.com

    Deleted: The Game is a weekly interactive web series which in fact underwent a major plot change this week when we had to delete our main character because our viewers were unable to warn her not to do attend a compromised meeting. We went live Aug 15, 2008 and should break the 200,000 views mark this weekend.

    Check us out?!


    Posted by: DeletedTheGame   September 13, 2008
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  2. @ DTG – Very cool game. It’s good to see people making interesting web tv. I’ll definitely tune in. Can’t wait to see your next releases.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   September 16, 2008
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