That’s Rich: Mystifying
The online advertising industry is on a precipice. The tools are in place for it to go either way: success, innovation, engagement, and creativity to a degree we’ve never seen in advertising before, or...Ginsu knives, X10 cameras, and Boxcar Willie recordings. I’ve seen this all before and believe me, the last time out...the dark force won.
I’m speaking of the computer games industry. Remember Myst? Remember The Seventh Guest? Those two games became in a very short time the best selling computer games of all time and, in a way, were responsible for people finally getting a CD-ROM player, a sound card, and a set of speakers. In other words, they forged the way for the explosion of the multimedia market (an industry that had languished for years) and held out the promise of new form of entertainment they called SillyWood at the time: the convergence of Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
So what happened to this dream? For one thing, the two groups never really understood each other or got along. It was the battle of the old-time gamers/technologists vs. Hollywood storytellers. Each dug their heels in, neither understanding the other’s world or business. Also, neither understood how to combine what they were doing to create something truly new, something world-shaking.
All the true gamers hated Myst. They thought it was a lot of pretty pictures: a slide show, not a game. But in fact, Myst brought more new people into the CD-ROM computer gaming industry than ever before. But for gamers it was an anomaly. Gamers wanted to keep creating what they had created in the past: a faster shooter, a quicker racing game, the next version of a famous football title.
On the other hand, Hollywood didn’t understand the importance of interactivity: they treated games like a linear movie, but one that had different endings. Neither group understood that a different type of artist was necessary for this new shift in entertainment to take place. For some of us, the brothers who developed Myst (and who lived out of a trailer to create it) represented that brief and shining moment when worlds do change. But the moment was brief. Gamers went back to their bits and bytes, Hollywood went back to making movies. And the world of gaming was a little less interesting as a result.
Today, online advertising stands at that same crossroads: two paths diverging. One leads to a new way of communicating, a convergence of graphics and interactivity. The other is a brief, circumnavigation back to the past and the old way of doing things.
They say that the best creative minds doing TV commercials are frustrated movie directors. Maybe we need frustrated game designers to push the frontier of rich media advertising. Or better yet, someone with vision who believes there is nothing frustrating at all in creating a new way of communicating, of selling an idea, of introducing a product that can change people’s lives. I’d hate to think such pioneers were just lost in the Myst.
Emerging Interest founder and CEO Bill McCloskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.