Voting people off the island is so…old school.
Gaming god Will Wright – creator of ‘The Sims’ – is letting couch potatoes channel their inner Jerry Bruckheimer by offering input on everything from storylines to music with his new Current TV series “Bar Karma”.
In just over a month, more than 5 million would be directors have visited the “Bar Karma” website and “several thousand” have contributed to developing the first three episodes, which began filming this week in Liberty Park, New Jersey.
“I think this is naturally where a lot of entertainment formats are going,” Wright tells Fancast in an exclusive interview.
“Not just with heavy participation from the audience, but by building an entire community around it.”
Could it be long then before viewers decide who lives and dies at Seattle Grace Hospital? Or pick the next song and dance number on “Glee”?
“I certainly can imagine that,” Wright says. “We are going out and shooting this like we would shoot any other show. It is just the process leading to the shoot that is different.
“It is not ten writers sitting in a room brainstorming. It is a million people on the internet.”
“Bar Karma” – a sort of sci-fi mashup of “Twilight Zone” and “Cheers” – is set in a mystical watering hole at the edge of the universe.
Its specific plot and direction will be decided by viewers who register online at Current TV’s Creation Studios (www.current.com/barkarma ). There, they can submit and tweak ideas for the entire community to vote on. [See how you can contribute here]
The winners are then given to Wright and his production team and translated into a weekly half-hour TV show, which will premiere February 4 on XFinity TV (on demand) and February 11 on basic cable.
“People can approach this like a fan community for a TV show, depending on their interest and level of commitment,” Wright says. “They are free to come in at any level of depth – right down to proposing new episodes.”
“If you go to the website you can see the episodes that the fans submitted and were voted on and are now in development. The first one that is in production now is a story about an author who wrote a book that ended up causing global chaos.
“The author comes in the bar and he has no realization that the book he is about to write is about to cause this global catastrophe.”
Powering this never-before-tried approach to storytelling is Wright’s personally-created StoryMaker Engine, which collects the ideas and guides users through the ten week production process.
The technology is exclusive to Current – a boutique cable channel founded by Al Gore – but could eventually make its way to larger networks.
Wright says the inspiration for his experiment came straight from his biggest success of all:
“We were getting hundreds of thousands of stories that people were using The Sims to create. And even more people browsing the stories and rating them. In the gaming community there is a tremendous urge for people to become storytellers.”