Joining Playdom and the social game phenomenon

I start at Playdom on Monday. I’m incredibly excited to dive head first into the social game arena and with a company like Playdom. The market is wide open, it’s the Wild West and I feel incredibly fortunate to be getting in at this point. Being the Wild West I hope to test the medium’s potential for interactive drama. Unlike virtual worlds, social games have the audience and they’re hungry for something new, for interactive entertainment.

Hollywood meets A/B split testing

The opportunity is also exciting because it’ll allow me to use my experience as a Product Manager building online apps and apply that toward entertainment. Imagine applying the type of feedback loops we see on the Internet to movies? Split test a movie or video game in real-time? I’ll also get the opportunity to leverage my years of studying screenwriting. It’s a very different world from trying to optimize a feature in Yahoo! Messenger to trying to figure out what game feature or story twist was more entertaining. It’s a different game and one I’m desperate to get into.

Saying goodbye to Visual Purple

It’s with some trepidation that I say goodbye to Visual Purple. I learned a lot about interactive story from the seasoned team there. Their roots are in interactive movies from the 90′s, producing such hits as Silent Steel and Blue Force. Beyond that they’re experience with interactive story goes as far back as Leisure Suit Larry.

I’ll miss reminiscing about Hollywood’s multiple attempts to make the medium interactive – from games or interactive drama. I remember returning from the 2009 Screenwriting Expo where Anthony Zuiker was pitching is digi-novel Level 26.

Scene from Leisure Suit Larry

I mentioned it at the office and was met with tale after tale of similar attempts to merge Hollywood and interactive story. From Mr. Payback and the doomed CSI Second Life tie-in, to expensive startups we’ve never heard of.

It was great learning about the convoluted history of interactive story and actually build training simulations that almost crossed over to interactive drama. I’ll miss it, but I’m hopeful social games will open up a new chapter for interactive drama.

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