On December 28th, 2018, Black Mirror released its first interactive episode, Bandersnatch.
Some critics and viewers claim that the episode redefined media as we know it, adding that there is a huge possibility that this is the new gaming platform.
Any new innovation has implications that may affect the industry and others that provide the same products (imagine how the public felt when the first computer was released).
That led us to ask, could Black Mirror be the first nail in the coffin of the gaming industry? It might, and here’s why:
Interactive Movies and TV Shows Are Redefining the Entertainment Industry
Black Mirror’s attempt for a ‘choose your own adventure media‘ is not the first; it was there in video games long before (e.g. Until Dawn, Beyond: Two Souls, most of Telltale games…etc.). However, it’s the first to gain such critical acclaim.
You know people arguing about poor writing and bad directing on Reddit and internet forums? They actually get to have a say in how the story of the show ends.
Giving power to the audience may end up changing everything we know about and have seen in the media industry.
If you’re a fan of Black Mirror, let’s hope it doesn’t turn out like the events in Nosedive…
Challenges of Creating Interactive Media
But we should stop and try to consider the effort placed in such a medium; whether we like it or not.
There is a great amount of checking and calibration, the continuity nightmare that must be verified, and many other aspects which seem doable and nice on paper and turn into a lucid nightmare during execution. And above all, the financing must be ridiculous to film and show every possible timeline to the audience.
Is it worth it to spend all this money for a return that may not yield the desired income? After all, media businesses are looking for a revenue as a return for their effort.
The thing is that it’s safe to say that everyone watches TV, but not everyone plays video games. Financially it seems to be lucrative for companies to invest in TV rather than another burnt-out video game where you shoot zombies and loot stuff.
Other producers may find it more rewarding to venture into this new territory. Soon enough, we may find our TVs and computer screens flooding with interactive shows and movies.
Will the Gaming Audience Shift to Interactive Media?
This may indeed act as a threat to the industry. However, we need to consider the type of video gamers in general.
Take a look at Bartle’s Taxonomy of Player Types:
Video gamers fall within one of these four categories. The aspect of interactive cinema or TV shows appeals mostly to Achievers (wanting to reach the end or all possible endings of a story) and Explorers (wanting to unearth all the possible mechanisms of the media).
On the other hand, Killers (seeking experience and leveling up and to become the most powerful player) and Socializers (enjoying the social aspects in online gaming, and lore and story in single player gaming) won’t find the same pleasure as their curious counterparts.
Assuming that the four types are equally distributed, we are talking about roughly half of the gaming industry that would shift to interactive TVs and shows.
Of course, these are mere speculations which are subject to a lot of volatile factors. But the gaming industry tycoons should watch this phenomena closely.
Don’t forget that gaming costs are getting higher (assuming you don’t pirate PC games), still, buying a PC or laptop that can play games in good quality requires a budget nowadays. Even console prices are ridiculous due to the dollar exchange rate.
Comparing this to a simple Netflix subscription, it can be an appealing feature, especially for light and casual gamers.
The gaming industry survived laws banning it and a lot of outrage since forever. However, gaming publishers and developers should keep these updates in their scope to make sure they are up-to-date with their fans and audience.
As a video gamer, I am concerned…I am looking at you, EA! You and your loot boxes…