ACG Unabridged: Yomi Ayeni

This week's episode of ACG Unabridged brings you some goodness from Yomi Ayeni, to celebrate the forward progress of Clockwork Watch. A really admire Yomi's dedication to his work, and his willingness to take bold risks in the interest of memorable player experiences. There is much, much more in A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, out in stores June 22, pre-order now, etc., etc. .Let's get this rolling!

Q: Can you tell me a little about your favorite projects?

My favourite projects to date haven't been big commercial entities - I am a loyal follower of Punchdrunk's productions. Though they take place over a single performance, there are so many threads to the narrative that I lose myself ever so often. They always manage to capture that rare 'make believe' / immersive theatre thing, and lead the audience through a magical and participatory world. Their Faust is the most emotionally draining thing I've ever experienced. The final scene blew the lid off everything, we the audience were transfixed, unsure as to whether we should applaud or just stare in disbelief.

I also applaud the many people that have taken the time to interact with my projects, in particular Breathe. It took participation to new levels and has become a template for many of things I'm currently working on. It wasn't so much about entertainment or adventure, it was trust. They trusted us implicitly to take them to new heights, and we didn't let them down.

Q: Where do you see the art and business of storytelling headed over the next few years?

A: Whoa.... We've blown the lid off traditional storytelling, it's no longer confined to a medium - and this has precious little to do with the onset of  technology. To a certain degree we've taken it back to the 'sitting round the campfire!' or fireside chat. We haven't re-invented the wheel, all we've done is show that the type of ride depends on many factors such as diameter of wheel, road surface, speed, etc.

From here on, all bets are off! You see, society seems to have lost the 'wow' factor. Life is now an amalgam of passive TV shows, films and experiences. As a kid, I went to the cinema every Saturday morning to watch Flash Gordon. Afterwards we'd dress up and play in the street, re-enacting stuff we'd seen on screen, even come up with our own plots and stories. Age or society seems to have robbed us of a vital component that makes us excitingly happy - PLAY! Cinema seems to have tapped into this - look at the number of comics being adapted for screen, look at cosplay at the many conventions around the world. I believe creating 'make-believe' or experiential will soon be a central part of the storytelling industry.

Q: What would you recommend a transmedia creator learn about to improve their craft?

A: First have a good and compelling story, then sit back and imagine a universe for each of the characters. What do they do, who are they, what do they like, their dislikes. Whenever you're presented with a situation, be it hypothetically or in the real world, imagine your character - how would each react, then ramp it up to the extreme and imagine what would happen.

This isn't about Tweets, FB profiles or technology - everyone understands tech. Yes, it can be amazing, but the characters and story are the most important part of the jigsaw puzzle. Get it right, and your transmedia universe will fall into place, even lead you along new paths.

The other thing that has helped me immensely is watching 'human traffic.' How do people react to things, is everyone on the train reading Kindles, listening to an MP3 player, chatting about last night's TV or are they just lost in their own daydreams. Imagine creating something that lets them slip out of their daily routine, into a storyworld created by you.