June 24, 2010 | 6:57 am
“Heroes“ creator Tim Kring believes today’s audience is no longer content to just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
Kring’s latest project to take flight is “Conspiracy for Good,” in which participants follow and interact with a tale of good versus evil as it develops in “real time” across the Web, mobile devices and staged events. This trans-media storytelling is about immersion, but there are a few other wrinkles that has Kring enthused. For one thing, at the finish line of this project there may be more than the satisfaction of a new-tech story experience, there will be a good deed done in the “real” world.
But first, the story: Conspiracy for Good is a centuries-old world organization that, well, does “good.” Now, it must contend with an opposing force, the multinational corporation called Blackwell Briggs. Briggs wants to put an end to “good” in order to further its own goals, principally mineral extraction, construction and the creation of oil pipelines. Feel free to roll your eyes or nod your head depending on how you feel about the tale’s resonance with current geopolitical situations.
This is not a story that will be told by network television nor is its narrative outcome fully controlled by a team of writers. It’s more of an alternate reality game experience based in London.
“The story is not a $4 million per episode television show that comes to your screen,” he says. “It’s a narrative that comes at you from multiple directions and allows you to stand at the center and be a part of it.”
Participants can literally “stand at the center” in mid-July when the project hosts events in London. There will be scavenger-hunt-like activities, concerts and theatrical events, all of which will include an element of participation on Nokia phones. But users elsewhere will find plenty to keep them busy on the Conspiracy for Good website. There, videos and blog posts reveal the story, and comment forms and forums allow participants to discuss it. Another feature is a page where participants can promote their own social causes and plan events to develop them.
By participating, users become members of the Conspiracy for Good, ultimately helping to “bring down” Blackwell Briggs. Kring sees the story as the “engine” of the project. He says, “I think there’s a “cool factor” to being involved in something that’s sort of a secret society and a clandestine operation against an evil corporation.”
Fictional elements of the narrative parallel “real” events, and user participation becomes part of the narrative. And by participating in the narrative, users will promote and support a social cause in the real world.
For this seven-week-long project, which Kring notes is only a pilot, the final result will be the creation of a school and library in Zambia. However, project participants are expected to contribute only to the story, not to send money. Nokia is underwriting the project and the school’s creation.
Nokia also has developed mobile applications that tie in to the story, and will make phones and apps available for participants to use during Conspiracy for Good events in London, where Nokia has its “biggest reach.”
“Conspiracy for Good” may seem like startling new direction for Kring, but to his mind it’s a natural extension of “Heroes,” the 2006-10 television show about ordinary people who develop superpowers. Underneath the complexity of the mythology, the show emphasized a message of global consciousness, says Kring. “Heroes” also generated a massive fan base, one that Kring plans to leverage for his new project.
“The whole idea of this narrative is that it swims in the waters of do-goodery,” Kring says. “You are able to be immersed in all sorts of causes from people who are trying to create positive change in the world.”
— Daina Beth Solomon
Photo: Tim Kring. Credit: Handout