On April 2nd, Trion Worlds and SyFy will release a multi-platform game titled Defiance.
This will be a 3rd person, MMO science fiction shooter set in a dystopian future San Francisco. There’s an alien invasion, the threat of the extinction of humanity as we know it, a terraforming event- pretty standard science fiction stuff. The game is being released on the X360, the PS3, and PC systems. The world itself is cross-platform- if three people are playing on three different platforms, they’re still able to interact with one another and exist in the same world. For those of you who are not into gaming, just know that this concept is just bananas. Bananas! But I digress. The game is a precursor to the release of the acompanying TV show, Defiance.
Set in a destroyed St. Louis, but in the same universe as the game, the television series follows the character of Joshua Nolan as he acts as the local lawman for his shambled border town of Defiance.
Now. With our powers combined…..
The motto of the two pieces of media is “Watch the Show. Play the Game. Change the World”. It’s here that Defiance becomes an interesting piece of convergence. The game and the show are going to be directly related to one another, and not just that they exist in the same universe. Some of the more prominently spoken about, and fascinating, examples of convergence are:
1) Player’s characters in the game are going to be worked into the TV series as background characters.
2) Events that happen in both worlds will be referenced in the opposite (i.e. something major happens in the story arc of the TV show, it then impacts the game world).
3) Characters from the TV show will leave for a few weeks from the series to do work in San Francisco (the game world), and will then appear in the game world for that amount of time. Upon returning to St. Louis (the TV world), they’ll speak about their exploits in the game world, including potentially referencing game events and specifically memorable interactions with players.
4) The potential that particularly memorable players or events from the game will be referenced in the TV series.
What happens on the show influences the actions of the game, and what happens in the game will influence the show.
I digress again.
The narrative world of Defiance is allowing its fan base to, essentially, have a direct say in the events of the TV series, and become a part of the narrative of the overall world. This is an incredibly ambitious idea, which could go any which way in terms of success. Only time will tell if SyFy and Trion are going to follow through with these ideas, or if they’re going to experience a Peter Molyneux-esque fallout (for those who don’t know, look up the death threats he received because his game Fable did not include the acorn tree he promised). However, the genius behind this idea is that they are coming at attracting the fan base in an incredibly unique way. There are almost countless options on TV these days to entertain one’s self with. SyFy and Trion are looking at how they can engage the audience directly, and have them become personally invested in both the TV series and the game. After all, what they do will actually matter. It’s a Producer/Consumer and Fans/Script interaction that has never been seen before.
And so, dear classmates, I ask you: Do you think that this approach, should it prove successful, could influence how other media producers decide on including their audiences? Does the Defiance crossover fit into Jenkins’ definition of convergence?