Survivors – the Interactive Experience

The BBC started a new series this Sunday, heavily promoted. Survivors, a re-make of the 70′s series, follows the story of a group of people who were not killed by a mysterious virus that appears to have wiped out almost everyone. There was a lot of Twitter chat about the episode, especially with people wondering about what they would do in the circumstances – I wrote about what I would do if a survivor on the other blog. To go with such a high profile series, the BBC have launched their traditional complementary website with an added ‘interactive experience’.

The main site is pretty basic. It has episode listings, character (and actor) bios and clips. The main focus of creativity has obviously gone on the game/interactive element.

Max Beasley as Tom Price in Survivors (screenshot from site)
Survivors - screenshot from site

The quality of the application is really nice, superb images, flash that flows extremely well, everything feeling really shiny. But once you get beyond the surface, the cracks begin to show. In effect, you have 2 main components. The first is a ‘which character am I’. These are very common, going round and round the blogs, multi-choice quizzes to inform you which superhero or character from your favourite show you are. Here they’ve glossed it up, in a cool flash interface, with sound clips and great images but at it’s heart it’s still that multi-choice quiz. Unfortunately, it’s a quiz with a dodgy algorithm as this morning, everyone in the UK was Abby. Not sure if that’s what they expected, especially as my completely non-scientific review of tweets makes me think she’s one of the least sympathetic characters. I always though the idea of these quizzes was to get some difference!

Survivors Map (screenshot from site)
Survivors Map (screenshot from site)

The other part of the experience is the commenting – as you answer the questions, you get asked why you think that and invited to place a comment. They’re then mapped up, so you can see an sampling as you explore. But there’s nothing else there, there’s no way to connect with other people, to explore the option. This could have been a far richer source of commentary; I think they missed out an opportunity for people to think about what they would do and explore options. Everyone thinks they’d survive, even if very few do. We’re overdue a pandemic anyway and knowing what could happen is useful or even just exploring behaviour in a more localised disaster. The Red Cross do this well, I’ve even seen the BBC do it well in their interactive piece for Spooks Code 9.

Overall I’m disappointed with this; first impressions were great and then I was left wanting more, so much more. I’m guessing this was commissioned late in the development, especially as it was not ready for the Sunday first episode, as it’s very superficial, put on top of the show and not part of it from the beginning. I think there could have been more value in the supporting online experience if they’d gone more basic – forego the flash and spend the money on a debate and moderation!

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