I have written quite a few articles for Tubefilter on Transmedia and ARGs and still the quite a few questions seem to remain for quite a few people, “yes, but how do you play an ARG?”, “what is the EXACT definition of Transmedia?”, and “who makes ARGs?”
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I may not have the perfect answers for the first two questions (and as you’ll soon read, those creative immersive storytellers haven’t even quite figured out all the answers yet, which is part of what makes doing what they do so exciting), but I can introduce you to one of the companies creating Transmedia content. I had the pleasure to collaborate with No Mimes Media (which was founded by Maureen McHugh, Behnam Karbassi, and Steve Peters) the past few months and took a few moments between all the craziness to shoot them some questions on what they do and how they came about, what they believe Transmedia is, and how to get started if you are a novice ARG player and just want to jump right in.
Tubefilter: What is No Mimes definition of Transmedia?
No Mimes Media: Transmedia is still evolving. Nobody knows what it is yet. But there are some things that are important. It’s multi-platform. It’s interactive. It can also use community, but there have been some pretty cool things that didn’t.
Tubefilter: What do you do at No Mimes?
NMM: We make stories. We make those stories in a new space, this Transmedia space. We’re trying to figure out how to make that work. We’ve had some spectacular successes, and we’ve been part of our share of failures. It’s a little like the earliest days of movies, where people were convinced that if you did a jump cut, there might be members of the audience who were so disturbed by that break in ‘reality’ that they might go crazy.
More specifically, we do a lot of things. Everything from concepting, to designing, to fully producing. We can come up with an idea. We can build a complete roadmap of the experience, a design document that calls out specifics like websites, phone numbers, emails, video and audio content, graphic design directions, tone, suggestions for casting, live events, you name it. And we can make all those things, from websites, to video content. Each collaboration is unique, and clients come with different strengths and different needs.
Tubefilter: When and why was No Mimes Media created?
NMM: We all met working at another company doing Transmedia. We left that company for various reasons; Maureen was traveling weekly from Austin, Texas and finally couldn’t take the grind. The company hit a lean time and laid off Behnam and Steve. But we also felt that it was going in a different, more advertising oriented direction. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just meant that our particular strengths—which revolve around immersive story—weren’t a good fit any more. So we got together and in March of 2009 we launched No Mimes Media.
Tubefilter: What is your most memorable project?
NMM: There is nothing like your first project. Our first project was The Threshold. It was a project for Cisco, for their employees. We had worked together before, but never as just ourselves, and we were still not sure what we could do. There were a lot of reasons why the project shouldn’t work (what they call ‘opportunities’ in corporate speak). But it succeeded way beyond everyone’s expectation. The amazing thing about Transmedia experiences is that many of them unfold in real time. So we were right there, watching the audience figure things out. They were posting things like how they had to take the kids to school now because they were so involved that the kids missed the bus.
Tubefilter: What is especially challenging with that you do?
NMM: There are a lot of challenges. Figuring out how to make the things we do. It’s so new that no one knows the rules. Figuring out how to explain what we do. Friends, even people in our families don’t quite know what we do. It’s hard to, say, go to a party and have someone ask, ‘What do you do?’ and not cringe. ‘I make immersive, interactive Transmedia stories,’ isn’t exactly informative. You can tell people understand the meaning of every word you’ve said, and have no idea what it means. As one friend said, “It’s a little like showing a dog a card trick.”
Tubefilter: What advice would you give someone eager to get into playing ARGs?
NMM: There are more and more people who follow transmedia and there are some resources now. A really good one is ARGNet, but there are more and more resources out there like MovieViral.com, Unfiction.com and a pretty active Twitter community with folks like @argworld, @arginsider and @arg_deaddrop or just a search for #args or #transmedia.
Tubefilter: Where can someone find an ARG to play?
HMM: You never know, a rabbithole might even be on this very page somewhere, if you look carefully enough! 😉