WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Today none of your games characters, or any characters for that matter, can seamlessly jump from one game universe or franchise to another, but blockchain could make that happen.
Today there are millions, hundreds of millions, of different digital worlds and realms, but for the most part they’re all separate from one another and it’s impossible for a character in one of them, say in Minecraft, to cross over and appear in another one, say Roblox. Or Call of Duty – imagine that cross over! As a consequence developers around the world are now considering the what if – what if all these different characters in all these different worlds could cross over? They’ve even given it a name – the Metaverse. The metaverse isn’t just an opportunity for a new kind of social world. It can give players a chance to create stories over multiple different media worlds.
Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner Media, a transmedia storytelling and creative agency, recently talked about the idea and how it could be made to work at an event in the US where he also discussed what he called “Transmedia narratives” and how they could impact the future of the metaverse.
Gomez defined transmedia as a stepping stone toward the metaverse and called it “Symphonic narrative.” It is a story told across multiple media platforms. We used to see movies get licensed cartoons and video games that wouldn’t have much to do with the actual film. Then Japan started pioneering multimedia stories that tied more closely together, and you soon also saw properties like Marvel take advantage of multiple media platforms to tell its stories.
“A metaverse implies that you can take the characters that you’ve been cultivating in one gaming platform and either go into an entire different realm, sometimes that’s within the same gaming platform, or actually leave that gaming platform and enter into an entirely different one,” said Gomez. “So, you can theoretically take your Roblox characters and get them into an app and play in an app game. “You can unleash a little chaos.”
Gomez used Dungeons & Dragons as a metaphor. Sometimes players would want to take their characters from one campaign into another, even if they technically exist in different worlds. Transmedia technique can do the same thing for multimedia.
Character creation in MMOs like Everquest and World of Warcraft was an important step. Players can create a character that they can stick with for decades. Since these creations exist online, they aren’t tied to a person’s computer or gaming machine, although in this example, they’re tied to accounts. Roblox is another important example, as it is giant online world with a focus on play and social interaction.
But these examples are still restricted to their own infrastructures. You can’t take your World of Warcraft character inside Roblox, and this is where Gomez says that there is an opportunity to use a technology like blockchain to enable games to be more open to transmedia possibilities.
If the idea of these media companies allowing characters to exist across stories seems unlikely, Gomez reminded the audience that we’ve been seeing walls go down for decades. He recalled how many were shocked when they say Disney and Warner Bros. characters existing together in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also bought up the Kingdom Hearts game franchise, which bought Final Fantasy and Disney characters together, along with other films like Wreck-It Ralph and Ready Player One.
“There are legal models already for the [creation of] transmedia trans-platform combination of characters,” he said, before noting that we’re going to need some clever attorneys to make it happen, but it is possible.
Long noted that metaverse experiences with their open structures and incredible player freedom can often lead to bad behaviour Gomez was then asked how that problem can be solved. While he admitted the possibility for chaos, platforms like Roblox have used smart moderating and other tools keep its world from spiralling into depravity already.
Then, talking about video games, Gomez noted that most titles are still relatively linear experiences with defined beginnings, middles, and ends, and that he believes that the metaverse could allow for multidimensional epics where characters can travel to different realms.
If the idea manages to talk hold then it will be an ambitious era of player driven storytelling, and all hell could break loose – in the right way.