Guest post by Jeff Gomez
So all of us have slunk home from San Diego Comic-Con 2012, nursing our over-stimulated brains, gazing at our dealer’s room swag, posting photos by the dozen of us grinning idiotically next to Imperial Stormtroopers on Facebook and Instagram. But what did it all mean? Was it just a touch of escapism for 140,000 geeks?
No, I think there’s something more fascinating than that happening here, and the studios, networks and game companies would do well to pay it some mind.
One of the most notable trends across and around the convention center this year is that, like thousands of members of an Away Team from the Starship Enterprise, people were holding their smart phones in front of them like communicators and tricorders. We have become so hyper-connected that every second of every aspect of Comic-Con was recorded from nearly every conceivable angle. If the cops asked us all to solve a crime that took place on the exhibit floor, we’d do it in a matter of minutes.
But this is more than a convenient way to preserve memories. We are communicating with one another, and with all of our friends back home—and with any number of others around the world. And all you have to do is look at the box office for Avengers and Hunger Games to realize that these sci-fi and fantasy story worlds are no longer the purview of cult fandom and niche markets.
The technology of special effects and multi-platform delivery has made the stories we tell more compelling and realistic, but tech has also empowered audience members (who are themselves growing in sophistication) with the ability to critique these stories, and to demand to be heard. Comic-Con 2012 has shown us that the powers that be can handle the paradigm shift of mobile communications and social media in one of two ways.
The first is that you can run for the hills and hole up with your old school broadcast ways. (I am one, you are many, see you when the movie comes out.) Interestingly, while some movie studios took this route, a number of television networks did not. Shows like Revolution, Adventure Time, and Defiance had a stronger presence at the Con than most movies.
I think the second way is far more exciting. It’s the way that acknowledges that all of us want to be a part of the story in some small manner. We want the storyteller to look us in the eyes and smile. We want to touch the myth. Our kid was dressed as Iron Man when Robert Downey, Jr. revealed himself as the judge of the costume contest. We laughed when Guillermo del Toro told us that Pacific Rim was making him crap his own pants. We were with Sylvester Stallone on the last happy day of his life.
These shamans chose to be a part of our tribe. Our tribe used to be small, a handful of geeks at every high school, but now there are too many of us to count. Your stories need to resonate with us, or we’ll tweet to a thousand friends that you suck before the credits finish rolling. You need to reach out to us, because we of the Digital Age were raised to be engaged. Ignore us at your peril.
Jeff Gomez is CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, the world’s leading producer of transmedia entertainment franchises. He has consulted on such properties as Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, Halo, Men in Black and Transformers, maximizing their value by helping to extend their story worlds across multiple media platforms. You can follow him on Twitter: @Jeff_Gomez.