Commentary

Transmedia Thriller To Join 'Heroes" Scribe with ARG Producer

We don't know exactly what will come of the recently announced transmedia entertainment project "The Karada."

After all, the lost pages of the Internet are filled with failed Web video series launched by familiar talent. But with a writer of "Heroes" Web series involved as well as a producer of alternative reality games (ARG), I am pretty sure already that I am going to be lost by episode 3. The makers of ARGs for "The Truth About Marika" and "Conspiracy for Good" is partnering with Webby winner and author Jim Martin on what is being described as a supernatural thriller.

"The Karada" revolves around heroine Emma who "struggles to navigate collapsing realities." We hate when that happens. Anyhow, apparently the audience is going to be recruited to be part of this narrative scheme. "Reality - it's not what you think it is," she tells us in the teaser. Emma will appeal to the audience to help her solve mysteries throughout the process, we are told. In a schematic that tastes a bit like the choose your own adventures that an entire generation of kid lit readers were raised on, the trailer reminds us that "all the little choices" we make have an impact on reality. Choose to eat that egg salad sandwich and you may blow your chance to become President of the United States, they say. That must be some sandwich.

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The project will reach across Web and mobile into live events and digital comics. The producers insist that audience interaction will be more intricate than simply voting on which reality to choose or which enemy to off. "Community contributions will be taken seriously and matter," says producer Tom Liljeholm. "For example, participants will be called upon to write in the details of Emma's alternate realities, the basis of which will be produced into a digital comic series." And so as the heroine actually encounters those alternative realties in the course of the narrative the audience will be able to see their impact on the story.

Great. And I am still trying to figure out where "Heroes" stopped making sense to me. You just know that the whole topic of "alternate realities" is a gilded entryway to a rabbit hole of proportions that seem to be delicious to some audiences. In fact, the trailer even uses the term "rabbit hole" as part of the tease. Combine that with the nightmare graphic sensibilities of contemporary horror films grounded in young adult angst (fair warning, slit wrists ahead in the trailer below), and maybe they are on to something that no one will understand but many will pretend to "get."

But you know what? In a digital video medium where the challenge always has been getting audience to watch that second and third episodes, the combination of creepiness, angst and faux depth might just be what brings them back for more.

The Karada: Teaser from Jakob Berglund on Vimeo.

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