Power To the Pixel: Jeff Gomez's Story Time
I’ve spent the morning at the first day of Power To The Pixel’s Cross Media Forum, surrounded by more iPads per square meter than you’d find in the Apple Store.
Power To The Pixel is now in its fifth year with its popular London forum (held in partnership with the BFI London Film Festival) , and somehow it’s my first time attending. I’ve been hugely impressed, even the audience is a who’s who of the transmedia world.
Like many others, I was touched this morning by the keynote speech from Jeff Gomez, who is probably the world’s leading transmedia guru (he’s the CEO of New York-based Starlight Runner Entertainment, which has worked on cross media projects for films including Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar).
Gomez recalled this adolescence as “an outsider, at a time when outsiders used to get beat up…before Lady Gaga was wearing meat and saying let your freak flag fly.”
He said he used to hole up in his room and created a fantasy world, Corondor. “I was bursting to tell my stories and share them. I didn’t want to be alone,” he said. He could see the cool kids outisde his window and “I wanted to somehow to connect with them.”
He found his way in: the old-school immersive role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. He tempted players to his house with “pizza and Pink Floyd, it being the ’70s.”
“I was engaging them through a weird kind of storytelling, I had to listen to them as I was telling the story,” Gomez remembered. “They were playing roles, I was less interested in the complexity of the traps and more in the aspirations of the people sitting at the table and how they somehow might intertwine with my own dreams.”
That interaction with stories and people through D&D informs how transmedia pioneers can interact with audiences today, he noted. “What’s so fascinating is that for thousands of years, people have been telling stories in such a way that they were able to look into the eyes of the people they were talking to, they could instantly gauge what people were responding to, the story would unfold in a kind of messy wonderful sort of way. That kind of started to trail off when mass media arrived…Now that’s starting to trail off, we have the technology to look in your eyes again, we have stuff fhat allows for instantaneous response.”
“We all have our own worlds, our Corondors. We’re arriving at an age where we’re able to express them, small and modestly or titanically.”
Gomez indeed offered personal proof of his own rule that storytelling is essential in transmedia. It was nice to remember the human emotions (and personal histories) at the heart of technological changes.