Old Spice Ads

Participatory culture is a bit of an odd phenomenon. I know about it mostly through Henry Jenkins‘ book, Convergence Culture
, but until recently, I’d never seen a very good professional example of it. Sure, there are smaller fan-based works and online series that incorporate this , but that I’ve now found a well done professional example of it, I’m quite happy.

I speak, of course, of the Old Spice guy.

Those of you who subscribe to him on Youtube will already be familiar with it. He had a wonderful back and forth with Alyssa Milano, after all. He took questions from Twitter, Facebook, Youtube comments and other places I can’t name off the top of my head from users of all sorts. He even went a little meta.

Now to explain. Paricipatory Culture is when the fans, haters or general observers of something become an active part of contributing to it, whether they necessarily realize it or not. Many times, they will come to realize their part in the property quickly. In this case, fans contributed questions and the Old Spice guy tore down the fourth wall to respond to them.

It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do. Constraints need to be made to preserve whatever narrative or structure the base property requires. If you can find a way to balance it out, though, it can turn into quite a bit of fun.

Star Wars Augmented Reality Game

Has anyone else seen this? Because it’s damn cool.

To promote their product, TomTom seems to have only started by harnessing the Star Wars fanbase with their commercials, which feature such amazing things as Darth Vader trying to say “Round about” and force choking the hell out of anyone who dares tell him he’s doing it wrong.

But it doesn’t stop there. On top of that, they’ve created an interesting game to go with their contest to win a free one, all based around Star Wars which tests your ability with the force. If you have a webcam, I recommend at least checking it out because it’s incredible.

And, to make this somewhat credible and not just gushing over an advertising campaign, a little explanation on augmented reality.

Augmented reality is when you have to do something in the real world to affect the game world. I have a little experience doing this but, that was an art installation and not quite as accessible as this one is. It can involve things like an augmented reality tattoo or just physically moving in front of a camera and interacting with the system in the physical world without using a controller.

And, it seems, that these are better pulled off by advertising companies as small gimmicks than game companies who try to do whole games based around them.

Although I do wonder if you could implement some of these games into an alternate reality game in the future. It would certainly make the experience a little more immersive … but I’m getting carried away and this is a much longer post for another day.

The feasibility of it is pretty dependant on funding, so they aren’t quite so common right now, though there are more coming out of the woodworks. Yoda and Vader yelling at you for failing the Force test certainly isn’t the first example of it, but it’s certainly the coolest that I’ve personally come across.