A Spanish team has launched the first 3.0 video game for YouTube, which takes advantage of various interactive possibilities.
The game uses a form of narrative immersion that allows the user to decide the course of the story and integrate it into real life, thanks to the use of alternative online platforms which enrich the story, such as Facebook, or email, which are indispensable for enjoying the adventure to the fullest.
The work, baptized CigameniC, is the fruit of the final degree project of two young UC3M graduates in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, Pablo Arana and Daniel Bernáez, under the tutelage of Professor Javier López Izquierdo, Assistant Dean of Audiovisual Communication.
The term CigameniC is a combination of the words cinema, magic and game, which the creators have attempted to transmit to their production.
At a given moment, for example, the gamer has to find out an email address to send an email, so that after doing so a reply comes with the instructions they must follow.
“In fact”, the authors of CigameniC said, “one of our objectives is to demonstrate that at present the boundaries between the different multimedia and online tools are quite blurred and totally complementary.”
In a nutshell, the game attempts to use the real world as a support for interactive narrative, known as ARG (Alternate Reality Game) which has Lost Experience on the North-American channel ABC as its main exponent.
“It is a story with high quality audiovisuals (cinema), which goes beyond the player’s screen making the spectator participate (magic), and it is interactive, with different developments and endings (games),” they said.
As part of the project, the game combines the everyday reality of the UC3M Getafe campus, where the project was filmed in its entirety, with a science fiction story backed by special effects that allows it to recreate the fall of a meteorite right in the University’s main yard. In essence, it is a cocktail blend of ordinary life and the extraordinary, offered in the most popular online video community in the world, YouTube.
“Today people want to actively participate in the plot, be in charge of what happens to the protagonist and influence events, and that is what we are trying to obtain through hypertext narrative,” Arana said.
In this way, the user gets the chance to experiment in various ways and take part in the adventure which leads to another totally new one, with a different ending with different scenes and dialogues.
“In our case, this narrative interaction is based on intuition, the resolution of puzzling events and the possibility for the active spectator to make decisions in real time,” Bernáez said.
According to the creators, the adventure blurs the boundaries between cinemagraphic language and that of video games.
“In my opinion, the whole story secretly proposes a game between the narrator and the reader or spectator”, said Professor Javier López Izquierdo, who directs the ALMA-UC3M Master’s in Screenwriting for Television and Film.
“At the beginning of the story, some rules are presented and we are invited to play. During the game”, he continued, “we are given instructions, clues, sometimes false, which are just as important as the true ones because it is only in fiction and in death when we wish to see our expectations not fulfilled. What David and Pablo do is strip this procedure down to its bare bones,” he said.
Among the most obvious points of reference for these young creators are graphic adventure videogames; cinema and action series in the style of “24; ARGs such as in Lost; hypertext stories, and the genre of the book series ‘Elige tu propia aventura’ (Choose your own adventure); and viral marketing, as Paramount Pictures did to promote the film Cloverfield (Monstruoso), for example.
All of that is combined with the possibilities offered by new technologies which allow “dealing with certain subjects with a degree of believability required by the contemporary spectator”, López Izquierdo said, stressing that the ingredients of good audiovisual story have not changed much since the time of Aristotle: “An enigmatic beginning, where the characters set out to obtain some sort of restitution; the continuation where they lose their confidence and are then in collision with other impediments in the pursuit of their objectives; and finally, an unexpected yet logical ending…”
In this case, however, various endings can be found. However, they are provisional because CigameniC is a modular story, created with future extensions in mind in which the story branches out, thus making it “complex beyond unimaginable limits,” according to its creators.