The bleeding edge of screenwriting and media convergence

March 1997

by Terry Borst & Deborah Todd

filed 20 February 97 Copyright ©1997 alt.screenwriters

Deb and Terry’s List of Interactive Jargon

Note: Some readers may find the definitions labeled as the truth to be either interesting or offensive. If you agree with the truth, please send cudos to Written By to the attention of Deborah Todd. If the truth offends you, write to the attention of Terry Borst.

the specific individual elements of the interactive content, including props, characters, and locations.
the truth
what a good attorney can cover for you.
the listing in the product that identifies the entire creative team.
the truth
what the producers don’t want to give the writer because then everyone will know really created the content.
easter egg
a hidden goodie in a product that can only be found with a special key stroke, after accessing a location a specific number of times, or after doing a series of tasks in a specific order, all of which are not obvious to the end user.
the truth
an opportunity for the writer and design team to get away with putting potentially offensive and/or risqué material into a project that won’t be discovered until the project is on the shelf.
educational experts
persons who have expertise in child and/or young adult education, typically in the 3-R’s, and often in early learning and child development. The experts are usually brought into the process in the beginning of a project, and are tasked with overseeing content development to assure that it meets the educational criteria required for the specific age group the product addresses.
the truth
People who know absolutely nothing about story, game design, and interactivity, whose sole job is to make life hell for the development team, and particularly the writer, for the duration of the project. Those who can’t teach.
focus testing
a means of verifying a concept in which a small group of people of specific demographics are asked questions that pertain to the product; their answers are used to help define and refine the product.
the truth
since marketing doesn’t really have a clue what the consumer wants, but it’s their job to know, they ask a handful of strangers and call it focus testing.
going gold
the process of printing the CD-ROM for the purpose of reproducing it for distribution.
the truth
selling your screenplay for a hefty 6- figures and getting the hell out of the interactive writing business.
hot spots
specific elements on the screen that are interactive and that respond to the user when activated.
the truth
elements of the negotiation that really piss off the writer, usually revolving around money, credits, and residuals.
a person on the executive team chartered with creating buzz around the product; this person is usually included in early design meetings to keep the product in line with what the consumer wants.
the truth
another person on the team who has no concept of story, interactivity, or game design, who tells the design team the kind of story, interactivity and game design the product has to have. Those who can’t write.
the branching effect of a storyline that allows for varied story experiences.
the truth
what happens to the writer when educational experts, marketing flacks, and inexperienced producers tell them how to write story and create characters, causing the writer to reach the breaking point and go nonlinear. If extreme enough, this condition can lead to going postal.
outsourcing a writer
hiring an outside independent contract writer rather than using in-house talent.
the truth
hiring a freelancer to screw over: better to hire a short-timer and skip the benefits than piss off an employee.
Creating an interactive multimedia product based on an original property that first appeared in a different medium.
the truth
Milking a property for everything it’s worth.
royalty payments to the principal creators of an interactive project.
the truth
a carrot dangled in front of the writer to get them to work like a slave, but which is seldom given to the writer, thanks to the techniques of creative accounting.
an object that can be interacted with and moved around in-tact on the screen, but which is not in itself animated.
the truth
a non-caffinated carbonated beverage that does absolutely nothing to keep you awake when you’re on deadline.
the person who interacts with a multimedia product.
the truth
what a writer risks becoming from working on too many projects involving educational experts and marketing types who don’t know what the hell they’re doing. Requires several trips to the Betty Ford Clinic to get back to normal.

Written by tborst

February 20, 1997 at 12:45 am

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