You’ve probably heard the classic proverb: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Collapsus, a new transmedia story-game directed by Tommy Pallotta, takes that maxim into its lungs and breathes new life into the issue of peak oil. With rumors of new electric cars and $5 gas in 2012 swirling, the message couldn’t be more timely.
What’s transmedia? It’s a storytelling technique that utilizes several kinds of media and gets the viewer/reader involved in creating the story. Henry Jenkins, author of A Convergence Culture, makes two key observations:
“A transmedia text does not simply disperse information: it provides a set of roles and goals which readers can assume as they enact aspects of the story through their everyday life. Transmedia storytelling is the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence… Participants pool information and tap each others expertise as they work together to solve problems.”
I believe innovative integration of multi-media like this into the green space is pivotal to engaging people and staying relevant. You can see the power of multi-media storytelling of approaches through videos for good, online/offline integrations like Carrotmob, or the growing use of the iPad.
As Pallotta says, “We crafted a multitasking and multi-linear experience and we blended genres like animation, documentary, fiction and interactivity all together in one story. This hybrid approach allows us to look at a serious documentary subject, but also to shift from the usual talking head approach to something that better reflects our time.”
Collapsus utilizes animation, fiction, real documentary footage, mini-games and movie fragments to examine “how the imminent energy transition affects a group of ten young people, who appear to be caught up in an energy conspiracy.” It gets you involved and forces you to make decisions, confronting you with the potential consequences of a variety of peak oil scenarios.
Indeed, Pallotta is using transmedia to speak to people through the media we use, and in doing so is setting forth “roles and goals” for people in a format that requires them to “pool information and tap each others expertise as they work together to solve problems.” People get bored hearing endless statistics and projections or being told that the solution is to carpool more. Collapsus hits a sweet spot by tapping into the reality that we are a multi-media society, engaging the viewer in the narrative, and creating a fresh, proactive-oriented take on a problem that isn’t going away. And with Collapsus, you don’t just see and remember, you do and you understand.
Image Credit: Collapsus Press Kit [pdf]