The world's a stage—and an ad—according to this breathless dispatch from the new media marketing frontier. Wired contributing editor Rose (West of Eden) hails an infoscape teeming with alternate realities that are "non-linear," "participatory," and "immersive." Traditional entertainments like movies, TV shows, and music are getting higher-tech production values and are increasingly cross-linked to Web sites, video games, and YouTube. One result, he contends, is more engrossing narratives, exemplified by video games whose characters display emotional complexity while slaughtering zombies, and online communities obsessed with the tangled plot of Lost. The more tangible payoff is a raft of avant-garde marketing ploys, like a publicity campaign for a Batman movie featuring mysterious e-mails that sent recipients scurrying on a real-world scavenger hunt. But even as the ad agencies, production companies, and media consultancies the author profiles gush about these storytelling and revenue-generating innovations, Rose's language is repetitive and bland ("Interactive advertising efforts have meant getting people involved with a brand and its stories") and might leave readers wishing he'd taken more care with how to convey his own message. (Feb.)
“Starred Review. Wired contributing editor Rose takes a broad and deep look at how electronic media are changing storytelling, inviting an immersion that drills down beneath surface information and encourages a deeper level of emotional involvement. . . . Completely fascinating.”
“A highly readable, deeply engaging account of shifts in the entertainment industry that have paved the way for more expansive, immersive, interactive forms of fun.”
“Himself a master of good old-fashioned narrative, Frank Rose has given us the definitive guide to the complex, exciting and sometimes scary future of storytelling.”
“From Homer to Halo 3, from Scorsese to The Sims, the craft of story-telling has transformed utterly. Or has it? Frank Rose is one of the world's most insightful technology writers, and in this wonderful and important book he narrates a narrative about the new narrators who are gaming all the rules we learned way back in English 101.”
“We can spy the future in Frank Rose's brilliant tour of the pyrotechnic collision between movies and games. This insightful, yet well researched, book convinced me that immersive experiences are rapidly becoming the main event in media, and has re-framed my ideas about both movies and games. Future-spotting doesn't get much better than this.”
“The definitive book on transmediawhat it really is, where it came from and how it is changing our culture. A must read for anyone now in the business of telling stories, which almost certainly includes youwhatever it is you do.”
“Frank Rose has written an important, engaging, and provocative book, asking us to consider the changes the Internet has wrought with regard to narrative as we have known it, and making it impossible to ever watch a movie or a TV show in quite the same way.”
“A grand trip, taking in everything from Charles Dickens to Super Mario and Avatar…Refreshing [and] thoughtful.”
While we've yet to experience a fully interactive media platform like the "holodeck" from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Rose (contributing editor, Wired; West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer) theorizes that we are encountering a profound shift in the way we play, consume, and communicate. He explains that our experiences with television, movies, games, and advertisements are becoming increasingly more immersive and consumer-driven. We are no longer content to let the entertainment and advertising companies tell us what to watch on TV or buy in the store. Instead of passively receiving information or stories from one source, we now get a "media mix," where one idea, one story, is "told" over different platforms—on the Internet, on television, in a game. VERDICT Like Marshall McLuhan's groundbreaking 1964 book, Understanding Media, this engrossing study of how new media is reshaping the entertainment, advertising, and communication industries is an essential read for professionals in the fields of digital communications, marketing, and advertising, as well as for fans of gaming and pop culture.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL
The media discovers that the best way to sell a commodity is with a good, potentially interactive story.
After the success (and legal battles) of mass-market movie tie-ins for commodities likeStar Wars, fans today are encouraged to write their own stories and flesh out the details of their favorite obscure plotlines and characters. Just like Homer retellingThe Iliad, fans love to author their own escapes, even if they're unoriginal. But why feed the avarice of the techno-schizoid media masquerade hosted by mega-rich executives? Because, as Wired contributing editor Rose (The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business, 1995, etc.) writes, storytelling is genetic. The author, dealing primarily with the history of storytelling and consumer desires and skillfully circumventing predictable stabs at psychology and sociology, finds that it's the fault of mirror neurons in our brains. Mirror neurons allow us toexperience what we perceive as if we wereactuallyperforming the perceived act ourselves, albeit to a lesser degree.The video game Grand Theft Auto, for instance, rewards felonious criminal behavior as your digital homunculus runs amok. Mirror neurons, however, trigger impulses in your brain that fire as if you wereactuallycommitting the crimes in real life—suggesting that, at the very least, there are real consequences, and possibly real rewards, to immersive entertainment. Stories have always been immersive, but digital technology makes them omnipresent—see the massive popularity of Lost, The Sims and other TV shows, movies and video games. So, like it or not, you're likely already immersed. In a country of more than 300 million people, there are millions of devoted fans who prefer to be fettered to headsets and keyboards.
An intriguing snapshot of where media will continue to move in the near future—great for rabbit-hole spelunkers.