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Part 2: Staying in character: Transmedia storytelling & transmedia franchises

Inworld Team
October 26, 2022
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This is Part 2 of a two part series on the future of character consistency in the age of transmedia storytelling. The first post in the series covered the challenges of maintaining character integrity across distributed IP experiences. Today's post focuses on the role of AI characters.   

As IP holders are presented with more opportunities for extending their story worlds into interactive and digital experiences, concerns about character consistency in the metaverse or across digital media experiences are expected to increase. How can franchises create more of the cross-platform immersive and interactive experiences fans want while maintaining the integrity of their characters, transmedia franchises, and storyworlds across distributed mediums and production teams? 

Transmedia companies and AI characters

At Inworld AI, we understand the importance to transmedia companies of creating consistent characters that are capable of extending the narrative and experience where other parts of a brand’s transmedia franchise story leave off. That’s why we built so many customizations into our AI character creation platform. 

For example, we allow creators to link to Wikipedia pages about their characters or upload character bibles. We give IP holders the ability to customize their character’s personality across 20 different emotional states. We also provide the option to include extensive details about the character’s personal knowledge and common knowledge that those in the same story world know – including information from cross-platform storylines. 

Our goal was to create an engine for designing characters that are brand-consistent, follow character bibles, and have safety features built in to ensure they don’t go off-script or respond to bad faith attempts to get a character to say something that breaks the magic of the experience. We even work with brands to refine these characters until they’re just right. Character consistency is our top priority. 

AI characters: The next evolution in character integrity

A black man and his son are looking at their computer while lying in bed together on a lazy Sunday, presumably enjoying transmedia storytelling experiences

But, while it's exciting that AI characters can be created in a beloved character’s exact image, there are new capabilities AI characters will bring in the future to IP that will revolutionize transmedia storytelling and transmedia franchises. Essentially, AI characters are the quintessential transmedia properties because they offer an enhanced version of character integrity for the digital age. With Inworld’s AI characters, for example, brands and transmedia companies will be able to create one consistent character that is interoperable and can be used across platforms and mediums. A character that could even one day have the ability to remember past-interactions with a fan from completely different platforms. 

Imagine creating one AI character that you can use in a virtual meet-and-greet experience, then also use for an in-person experience in a theme park, then add into several video games developed by multiple different studios, and finally deploy in a branded experience as an NPC on a platform like Roblox. Now, imagine that’s also a character that you can iterate on based on fan feedback and immediately see the changes across platforms – no expensive rewrites or redevelopments needed. Do fans hate something about the video game version of your character upon release? You can fix that. And you can do it in minutes rather than months of redevelopment. 

What’s more, your AI character could one day remember when a child visits them in a theme park that they talked to that same child online during a virtual meet-and-greet months prior. That level of personalization and character continuity has thus far been impossible – and even unimaginable. But AI characters will soon have the ability to create those kinds of magical experiences.

The data driven value of AI characters for transmedia franchises

A directors cut devide to represent how transmedia franchises often start or end up in films

Perhaps the best part of the coming AI character revolution is that fan-centered co-creation will play a central role. After all, one of the key benefits of AI characters is the data they’ll generate for IP holders. Imagine the value of the continuous real-time market research AI characters will produce through fan interactions. IP holders will soon be able to achieve significant value by leveraging insights from interactions with fans to help them understand the state of their fandom – and pinpoint potential directions to take their story worlds in. 

This kind of interactive co-creation promises, not just the potential to reduce IP risk, but also the ability to eliminate costly franchise missteps and significantly increase profits by ensuring that all franchise investments or expansions are data-driven and fan supported – right from the beginning of the ideation process. That will make securing buy-in and funding for the next iteration of the transmedia franchise much easier given that data collected from fan interactions with AI characters is, essentially, a business case for the next investment. Imagine if transmedia companies didn’t have to predict what fans will respond to – they could instead know it.  

Takeaway

AI characters won’t just offer the potential for consistent character experiences across transmedia platforms and mediums, they will also have the capability to be used for market research to deeply understand fandom trends and desires. That will empower IP holders to produce more satisfying (and, ultimately, more profitable) fan experiences and stories. 

Being an early adopter of AI characters offers transmedia companies a competitive advantage since they’ll be able to optimize their franchise pipelines to deliver content that will win box offices, more effectively capture gamers’ attention, drive more merchandise sales and park visits, and more.  

For all these reasons, expect to see more AI characters deployed as part of valuable transmedia franchises. Indeed, AI characters will soon be indispensable for achieving both transmedia character integrity and franchise success. 

Ready to try out an AI character? Check out the Inworld studio today!

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