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From today read, watch and play the intriguing world of San Francisco's fictional drug-addicted homicide detective, Larry Hayes. Hayes and related characters - his ex-wife Jennifer Hayes and the private eye she's hired to spy on him, Lauren Ortega - are a new type of character: "transmedia characters". They live not just on the page but in an expanding universe of digital mobile downloads, video episodes, blogs and interactive challenges that meld San Francisco's past and present with a fictional narrative designed to blur the boundaries of what's real and what's not.
"I pitched the concept to award-winning crime writer Simon Wood and he saw the potential immediately. This is where the whole entertainment and advertising industry is headed because when you love a creative work you want to share it, talk about it, go deeper, get closer - and many would agree with that. What's been missing is the 'how to'; an example that shows what transmedia storytelling really looks like when it's designed with those goals from inception."
The new hard-boiled crime mystery, called Lowlifes, currently exists as a novella, a series of ten 3 minute videos, a blog and a casual online game. Each media stands alone as entertainment - so nobody is forced to watch the videos in order to enjoy the novella - yet the more the audience consumes the greater their understanding and enjoyment of a larger story that encompasses all media.
The innovation that is Lowlifes also extends to the business model: it’s all available as paid and free media and licensed under a Creative Commons agreement allowing readers to add their own fictional works to the canon. And, if it couldn't get any better for crime mystery lovers, the technology used to create the interactive challenges is also available for free - allowing, for the first time ever - readers to write their own interactive narratives for supporting characters or create their own characters that live in the same world.
Robert Pratten is the transmedia producer behind Lowlifes:
Lowlifes is available for free and paid and explained in full at http://lowlifes.tv.