Everyone grows up with games and knows their simple rules (think: hide and seek, “it”, etc.). They are great currency for engaging people! Even videogames (eg. Grand Theft Auto IV) have become more social, with 62% of all “gamers” playing against each other, or collaboratively, online (this has become possible because of technology and connectivity all becoming cheaper). All art forms represented have digested new digital media elements over the last year, whether into artistic content, production and business or audience development strategies. What’s also emerged are more cross-art form Alternate Reality Games (ARG’s) or Pervasive Games – of the kind that Blast Theory have been creating for years. These games are performances and have story lines in which the audiences participate. As a participant, you usually play you – and “act out” in real time and real life, the narrative of the game in the context and landscape of everyday life. You often participate, collaborate and pool intelligence with complete strangers, also playing the game. Sometimes the games also have digital media elements, where clues can be found online (check out http://www.perplexcity.com).
Alex Fleetwood explains how it all works in this YouTube documentary of the London-based Hide & Seek Festival, and the Alternate Reality Gaming Network keeps an up-to-date list of ongoing games. Obviously, most of us would feel pretty self-conscious about engaging in this type of activity (which may look a bit odd to those not participating!), but the idea of engaging in social games and playful experiences within the context of festival, is surely an ideal place where that experimentation could happen!
But creating and performing in social games, especially those with digital media elements, presents some very interesting contractual issues. Obviously receiving a daily performer’s rate for the live performance as an actor who intervenes in the audiences’ experience is a straightforward contract. But how should performers be contracted for any digital media elements they are asked to record? How should performers be contracted for supplementary podcasts, mobisodes, computer games, webcasts and other internet-only productions? It’s been a resounding question of artists working in the performing arts and broadcast sectors for the last year or so, and Equity have just released a new set of template contracts which make huge strides to protect their member’s interests in a new media age, by suggesting what fees should be paid to performers for the actual recordings, and what royalties should be shared for downloaded content. These template contracts can be downloaded from http://www.tvischanging.com/newmedia.htm. Obviously, the technology landscape, and the sort of artistic content that is created in response to it, will continue to rapidly change, but the contractual frameworks are now here, and Equity’s recently formed Future Media and Technologies Working Group will hopefully keep on top of the changes.
Make sure you have your say via Equity’s Facebook Group or Twitter Stream.