First there were movies, then there was TV, now prepare for the entertainment platform of the future: the "mobile immersive experience." That's actually not it's official name, but is a term that was invented on the spot this week at a dinner gathering of Nokia execs, journalists, and oh yes - Tim Kring, the creator and executive producer of NBC's "Heroes." He was there to talk about what is the first attempt at a new entertainment experience using mobile as the platform. And it's going to be nothing like anything you've ever seen before.
Thanks to Nokia's partnership with Kring, their upcoming Ovi Store (aka the Nokia App Store) is going to kick off with some of the most innovative content that has ever come to the mobile platform. It's set to open in May soon after the store will feature Kring's new project and is code-named TEVA. As for what exactly TEVA will look like and what it will be about...well, details are still vague. Kring wants to make sure spoilers don't ruin the fun for the audience...or perhaps we should say "participants."
What we do know, however, is that TEVA will be a combination of user-generated content and Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG). In you're unaware of what "ARG" means, it's when an interactive narrative is told using the real world as the platform. Instead of passively consuming this sort of entertainment, ARG players actively participate in it. A somewhat recent example of this is what ARG called the "Lost Experience," which launched back in 2008 as an online clue hunt developed by ABC for fans of the TV show "Lost." In this game, web sites across the net contained clues that when pieced together told a story that tied into and paralleled that of the show. Another example would be the ARG created for the band Nine Inch Nails to promote their "Year Zero" album. This time the adventure started when concert goers found thumb drives in the bathrooms that contained unreleased songs and clues.
TEVA is No Ordinary ARG
So the idea of an ARG isn't an entirely new one, but using the mobile platform to play the game is...at least like this. You see, TEVA isn't just a traditional ARG moved to the mobile platform - it only involves some elements of that type of story-telling mechanism. Another piece to this mobile experience is user-generation content. This is a new twist. In the past, ARG players would just interact with the story line - now they're going to help create it. And yet another aspect to this mobile experience will be local. Gameplay takes place in your city - not just in an application or just on the web. How exactly this happens, we don't know, but TEVA will use GPS and other location-based services in some way.
So What Do We Call This?
When we asked if there was a name for this type of entertainment, Kring said perhaps we could call it a "mobile immersive experience." It's a bit long, but it works.
Since there aren't a ton of details about TEVA yet, we have to use our imaginations to guess at what sort of interactions might be included. Based on some of the other discussion topics that evening, one of the possibilities that may come into play in this new mobile experience is an augmented reality application.
At the dinner, one of the Nokia execs described how we could use our mobile phones to record geo-located images and videos and tag them with specific keywords. This media could then only be accessed when you arrived in the same geo-location with your mobile phone. For example, if you showed up at the local park, you could pull up a video of your friends playing Frisbee there last week. This "mirror world," as it is being called, isn't so much an "alternate" reality, but a real one...just one that's been recorded, tagged, and archived. With this, we sort of become the ghosts of ourselves.
The Possibilities are Endless
The TEVA project will initially launch in the Ovi Store while it's being developed for other mediums (iPhone? Web? This, too, is unknown.) What is known, though, is that Kring is extremely excited about the project. As a creative, he's less interested in the technical details of the technology itself - just what it can do and how he can use it to create an entirely new entertainment experience.
Kring noted that there are already mobile applications that allow you to go out into the real world and "collect clues, send things, create things, and share with other people nearby...using the locative qualities of the phone. Once you get the parameters of what these services can do," he continued, "then your imagination is the only thing that stops you...if you attach a narrative to that."
TEVA will launch this summer and will be rolled out regionally.
Above image is the TEVA logo.