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Win, lose or Draw Something

Hieu Chau

Thu Jun 28 2012

Win lose or draw something

ARE the lines between traditional entertainment platforms and social media blurring? Hieu Chau draws his own conclusions.

Ideas and inspiration sure can come from the strangest place. But that’s the beauty of creativity, isn’t it?

A television game show based on the wildly popular social game, Draw Something, is reportedly coming to American television on the CBS television network, home to popular television shows including, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men.

The show is currently set to feature celebrity and regular contestants competing for prizes on the show, but viewers can also participate from home and win prizes.

Adapting a social game like Draw Something into a television game show is a smart idea – the game itself already posters a sense of competitiveness among participants, and encourages plenty of interactivity throughout. The social aspect of the game show will arguably be its most appealing feature, and it would seem incumbent upon media these days to incorporate some interactive and social aspect into its products in order for them to feel successful.

Social media certainly adds to our engagement with entertainment, and is a powerful tool in its own right. But what does this all mean? What does this say about the current landscape of film and television? In an age when a Twitter page can give birth to a television show starring William Shatner, it seems that pretty much anything can be adapted for film or television, and that ideas surrounding social media, including community, engagement, and interactivity, reign supreme.

The NBC television network recently wrapped up the first season of Escape Routes, a weekly reality television game show where contestants travelled across America to win prizes. Some of the games that contestants took part in were real life versions of popular social games such as Hanging with Friends and Words with Friends. The game show was a joint venture between motor company, Ford, and social games developer, Zynga, who, in addition to creating the aforementioned games, created the Facebook favourite, Farmville.

Escape Routes placed a strong emphasis on interactivity as the success of its teams of contestants was highly dependent upon viewers at home. Each team had their own online community and followers who helped them win their games. It would seem that Escape Routesis the first of its kind – game shows that use social media to increase participation, as well as incorporate recognisable social games into its format, to further enrich the experience of those watching at home.

But let’s not forget about feature filmmaking. Angry Birds, arguably the most recognisable social game of all, will branch into films. Rovio, the team behind Angry Birds, has hopes of turning the social game into a major international franchise. How a game about catapulting birds into objects is going to be turned into a film is beyond me, but seeing as how studios were able to make a film based on the board game, Battleship, I suppose a film about Angry Birds isn’t too much of a stretch.

So why are social games and social media suddenly finding their way into mainstream entertainment? It can be argued that the declining viewership of television shows, and attendance at cinemas, has forced networks and film studios to source for content ideas elsewhere – places where everyone congregates. Nowadays, the easiest way to find out whether people like your product, and are talking about it, is to check social media.

Social media has been becoming increasingly pervasive in our everyday lives. Hence, it shouldn’t be surprising for a television network like CBS to have committed to a social game like Draw Something. The name of the product is already instantly recognisable.

Are there any social games that you would like to see be converted into a game show or a film? Do you believe social media will add to your viewing experience? Discuss in the comments.