More like evening after, but here we are. Good parties are hard to wake up from.
BeeBCamp happened yesterday – it was an unconference that I organized with Roo, Mark, and David Hayward from the BBC College of Journalism (internal link). The idea was simple: let’s get everyone at the BBC working on new media projects in one room, talking to each other. In a company with 23,000 intelligent people working on interesting projects, it’s easier said than done. BeeBCamp was an attempt to make some connections.
Initially the experience was very similar to the first New Year’s-Eve house party I organized at my mom’s house in Montreal, when I was 16. There was a lot of pacing around, wondering if anyone would come. They did trickle in, though, and when it was time to go live we had a good bunch including some campers who came all the way from Manchester and Wales.
There’s already been a lot of fallout online, so I won’t repeat what others have said. Roo Reynolds, Tom van Aardt, Rain Ashford and Jason Da Ponte have detailed write-ups of their experiences, including the first two sessions I attended – Max Gadney on The Future of TV, and Steve Bowbrick on the Common Platform.
We need more fun and games.
I do have something to add on the subject of a Games Strategy for the BBC – the session run by Jesper Hauerslev of BBC Childrens’. Those guys have been doing great things in the gaming world, not least in deep interactive content like Adventure Rock and a raft of other games. But it is all happening one piece at a time; as Tom points out, the BBC has not yet made a concerted, strategic push into the gaming world.
I think there’s a real opportunity here.
The BBC is, if not unique, exceptional because of its public service remit. The corporation’s non-commercial structure allows it to pursue projects and media strategies that aim to serve the public interest rather than generate revenue.
For their part, video games are one of the most powerful ways of informing, educating and entertaining audiences. They’re certainly one of the most popular. I would argue, based on sales figures and amount of time spent on them, that video games are the dominant cultural form of our time.
They come in all kinds, but some games, like Budget Hero and Insurgency, are powerful tools for increasing people’s understanding of the world around them. Simply put, these games are media experiences that make their players into better citizens – more informed, more aware.
But often they’re not tremendous commercial hits. Insurgency was created as a labour of love by a small group of volunteers working in their spare time. It’s taken off, now, and become quite popular. But a lot of the best journalism in the world today would never have been made if it were simply aiming for commercial success.
So I think there’s a clear opportunity there.
But wouldn’t it be a cool thing if you could load up a web page and be a taxi driver in Baghdad – as brought to you by the BBC?
Just think – GTA4 meets Panorama, without hookers, but with authentic factional neighborhoods and an up-to-the-minute reflection of what’s happening on the ground. Sends shivers down my spine.