The BBC have unveiled a concept for a live television game show based upon a multiplayer video game, smooshing together bits of The Crystal Maze with livestreaming and a top-down shooter. It sees contestants playing a game at home while a live-action presenter in the studio is zapped into the game world to be mean to them. This here ‘Multiplayer Broadcasting’ is not a show the BBC are actually making, to be clear, rather an idea Auntie’s R&D folks have been tinkering with. They’re interested in the future of audience interaction, see. Here, have a look:
To recap for folks who can’t/won’t watch that now. The idea is for a television show based on a multiplayer video game, a third-person shooter which exists and runs outside the show. Contestants are picked from the game’s top players by viewers voting on an app, then they play from their own home. Their real face is recorded live and added to their virtual character, so you can see them as they chat and zap. Meanwhile, in the studio, a presenter is green-screened into the world to be the host and Anne Robinson-y antagonist. Then off they go to do missions, apparently.
Here’s what Auntie’s gang say:
“Multiplayer Broadcasting blends live TV shows with the interactivity of online games by placing audience avatars and presenters into a shared virtual world. Not only does this give audience members a chance to interact and communicate with live performers, but they are no longer limited by real world locations. We see it as the next iteration of audience participation shows in a broadcast-VR enabled future.”
They expand on that:
“Capturing the presenter live preserves their showmanship and performance as-is and allows them to interact and improvise with the audience. Having audience avatars means suddenly anyone, anywhere can become a participant in a show. They can meet their heroes without needing to be in the same physical location. The virtual environment provides endless stylistic and creative opportunities; we’re no longer limited by reality. We can send our presenter and participants to impossible locations, we can defy the laws of physics and set them challenges too dangerous for real life. We could give them superpowers, or we could dissolve them in lava, without a risk assessment in sight!”
To be double-clear, this isn’t a specific show they’re pitching or a game they’ve made. The video is one example of merging broadcasting and gaming, a concept of ways audiences could participate in the future. Or, to go jargony, this film was made “to communicate the creative opportunities enabled by the concept and help us identify the technical challenges involved in making this experience a reality.”
But it does look like it could be a weird and fun thing in a very cheery British television way, doesn’t it? We turned Total War into Time Commanders. We’re confident that people still rip the piss out of Simon for sidestepping to his left even though it was totally his mate’s fault. We made children compete for the amusement of an astronomer-turned-gamebaby. We even already did augmented reality gaming a bit with Bamzooki. This would certainly fit in the tradition of ambitious and endearingly awkward British video games shows which I’d hope none of my family see and think resembles anything I do.
My only question: if you die in the game, do you die for real?