It's a Game! It's a Show! It's a Game and a Show! (But not a Game Show) Behind the Scenes of "Defiance"
We’ve talked about “Defiance” a couple of times now; it’s the SyFy television series set after an apocalyptic invasion of Earth by several different alien species. The big hook on the series is that the television show is being released at the same time as a massively multiplayer video game set in the show’s world, and presumably the actions of players in the game will guide plot developments in the television show. There’s a giant caveat there; the show is set in Saint Louis, the game in San Fransico, so it remains to be seen just how much of a link there will be other than a throw away line or two that amounts to little more than a shout out to events in the game.
The gaming landscape is littered with tie-in games that promised integration with the storylines of television or film. The results have been unequivocably bad, with Enter the Matrix being the capstone for me. I think that someday someone will manage to do it right, but the proposition has several problems.
First, getting a good show or a good game is a shot in the dark in the first place. Getting two that are linked to both be good decreases your odds quite a bit. And second, integration between two platforms makes disposable executives nauseous, and then they start insisting that both products have to stand independently, that the integration can only be value added. But that limitation instantly decreases the potential of the concept. If they’re just parallel, then why bother with both? It’s like reading a comic book in which you can get by with either the pictures or the words. The result would be a shitty comic book, not a great one.
In any case, here’s an early “making of” video:
It’s at an early enough stage that it’s hard to get a feel for the show beyond the “ooh pretty” effect. No real idea of plot or story, not really a sense of the world beyond its visual elements. And those are exactly the things that my creeping cynicism has rendered universally unmoving. That’s not to say that it will be bad, I’m holding out hope for any show anchored by Farscape’s Rockne S. O’Bannon (and not just because his name sounds like a pulp sci-fi hero’s).
And even through my jaded sensibilities, I appreciated the note that they are making the world bright and colorful. That with the end of the world, people would simply not choose to live in the typical grey and blue tinged palettes of post-apocalypse fiction. They would cling to flowers and brightness with all the more desperation for joy.
“Defiance” will premier in April.