24 Aug 2005|Lee Shupp

I love working in technology. One of my favorite aspects of technology is discovering and exploring unintended consequences- the interesting things that people do with technology that was not originally envisioned by designers. One example: machinema. Machinema (machine + cinema) is a nascent movement of aspiring filmakers who are using video games as tools to create original stories, using game characters as “actors” and game graphics as the tools to create scenes.

Independent filmmaking has traditionally been limited by low (or no) budgets, leading aspiring filmakers to lean towards using a few characters in sparse surroundings to save on costs. Machinema (at least so far) goes the opposite direction: lushly designed sets that allow almost any setting (past, present, or future) with limited ability to express emotion with characters. The results have been interesting. There are now even machinema film festivals where one can see the latest films made using video game settings.

What is the learning for this for marketers? More and more, consumers want to create their own authentic experiences. This is especially true of youth, who prefer to be given a set of easy-to-use tools that allow them to create their own unique digital experiences, from the simplicity of IM to the complexity of making a 10 minute short film using the set of Halo.

The challenge: how can brands create and maintain strong brand identity, while still giving consumers leeway to express themselves in ways that companies cannot predict or control? The answer is different for different companies; the central question is whether you prefer control, or are willing to face the risks (and potential rewards) of letting consumers co-create your brand with you.

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