Haloid

I stumbled onto an interesting mashup of Halo and Metroid (plus a little Matrix) via Penny Arcade. But the mashup itself, while impressive, didn’t inspire me to write this post. What caught my eye was the commentary on the mashup by its creator, Monty. Let me quote the relevant portion:

One thing that you can’t deny about Halo is that it’s popular. In fact the Halo community is so large that if anything Halo related that surfaces on the web, it gets notice. The movie I submitted here over a year ago that contained a Halo-esque character was wildy more popular than the movie I had submitted more recently despite it being technically better.

It hit me with some minor distaste that the world as it is doesn’t really want new stuff. They want to see new versions of the stuff they already know… Sorta. It could also be viewed in such that with the growing number of characters and stories out there. By trying to sell my own original story with my (somewhat) original characters I am vying for the attention of people who already have well enough to look at. Looking at it that way it’s not so bad that when you think I’m competing against the studios out there that spend a fortune creating stories and characters they’re struggling to sell as well.

As an amateur I can’t really fight standing on the shoulders of already established characters. But it can at least be admired as to what I do with them.

If you can look past the funky grammar, I think you’ll find this to be one of the more elegant insights into fan participation in mass media. Some people co-opt famous IP for love. Some do it for attention. Monty seems to be in the latter category… but that doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that Monty created something entertaining. It benefits him, and it benefits the Halo franchise because it reinforces the franchise’s cultural relevance. And if you happen to be a Metroid fan who has never played Halo (or vice versa), perhaps this mashup will be the thing that finally pushes you to try it out. That’s why we need to support and encourage this kind of participation.

Someday, if I ever transition from the role of distributor to the role of creator, I hope guys like Monty will do me the honor of celebrating my works.  :-)

14 Responses to Haloid

  1. I think Haloid is GameTrailers.com’s most-popular user video ever at more than 1 million views, not including views from other video websites. The Popular User Videos page doesn’t report the correct figures…

    Dave Halverson, editor-in-chief at Play Magazine, stated at a recent panel discussion (video available now) that franchises kill original IP. Do franchises kill original IP? By extension, that question could be asked in several other ways: do retail franchises kill mom-and-pop stores? Do brand extensions dilute the flavor of brands? Does the extension of franchise PLC by related UGC actually diminish the potential of original IP in the long run?

    Or does UGC advocacy effectively mean to demand that all original IP must be franchised and provide for UGC to play in the commercial sandbox? If so, and in light of Why Content is Not King, is this approach to development a necessary evil or a byproduct of the Hollywoodization (i.e., quick adoption of the blockbuster model) of the video-game business?

  2. Johnny ONeal

    I also found Monty’s comments insightful. In the case of slash-fiction works like Haloid, there’s not much the companies can do to embrace user-generated content than not sue the creator. But if a high-profile piece of fan-generated content falls within the boundaries of a company’s IP, I would love to see the next companies take the next step and actively embrace such content (perhaps even awarding canon status to the best of the best). The trick in that case is picking the right stuff to acknowledge, but peer reviews can serve as a filter.

    Of course, as Morgan points out, these issues are relevant to more than fan content. When I was recently interviewing for positions with game companies and toy companies, I noticed that all of them were struggling with the risk of original IP versus the lower margins licensed products. And I do think it relates to one of the basic marketing concepts you learn in business school: proliferation of brands is a barrier to entry because consumers only have so much mental shelf space.

    Luckily, they (we) also have limited patience. Aside from truly outstanding worlds like Star Wars and Harry Potter, franchises seem to run out of steam after three or four major releases. People are always looking for something new, and great original content like Katamari or Guitar Hero eventually makes its way to the top of the pile.

  3. … and great original content like Katamari or Guitar Hero eventually makes its way to the top of the pile.

    In the meantime, most original IP cannot sustain competition with franchises, projects are cancelled (or project budgets are cut to fund franchises), studios are dissolved, and developers are unemployed. The few original properties that “make it” become franchises. That’s the blockbuster model.

  4. Hey guys,

    I’m glad to hear that my thoughts aren’t alone. There were a few times I felt slightly guilty in the response I anticipated. There was also a moment when I thought of pulling the synopsis from below the movie because some people complained about reading it and/or claimed that only someone truly arrogant would talk so much about their own work.

    You guys really know you stuff, I’m glad to have stumbled by here.

    You can bet if any of you were to put yourselves out there with work you love I would be 100% behind you as well.

    -Monty

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