Current events: Interactive program coming to cable channel


In the electronic gaming world, the user has a major role in determining how a given “narrative” is going to play out, based on their own skills and preferences. Now a major game developer is putting a program together for which the content will be determined in part by the program’s audience. Current TV is taking a chance on the concept.

The creator behind the project is Will Wright, who is the brains behind the Sims computer games that put gamers to work designing cities, etc.

The new interactive program, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, is “Bar Karma.” It is not a reflection of real life, unless you happen to know a 20,000-year-old bartender who has lived some 500 lives. But it will provide opportunity for audience participation that is not available elsewhere.

The audience will help determine the plot direction, character profiles and music selection, and will even have a chance to provide dialog.

Wright said he received plenty of rejection slips when he started shopping the concept, which actually made him think he was one to something. It reminded him of the rejection he drew when initially shopping the Sims concept, which turned out to be wildly successful despite the early detractors.

Current TV is available to some 60M MVPD subscribers, but the vast majority of them have yet to make paying a visit to its channel a habit.

Current recently offered a home to pundit Keith Olbermann following his abrupt exit from MSNBC. It is hoping that some of Olbermann’s ardent fans will follow him.

RBR-TVBR observation: Current is definitely not sitting on its haunches and accepting its microscopic ratings as a permanent part of its profile. We don’t know if this program and Keith Olbermann will be enough to raise that profile, but you have to admire the effort they are putting into breaking through.