Publishing Public Interactive Media

Decided to bring up the ‘Corporation of Public Gaming’ concept I first introduced in February. This time I want to cover a little more directly what I feel such a concept would be. First, I’ve decided to try out a new name for the concept: The Corporation for Public Media (CPM). I don’t want to limit to video games alone with this organization as the Internet at large should be included with this endeavor.

Before I continue, here’s a little review of recent weeks of highly publicized public gaming projects and research grants.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced the first round of recipients in their Health Games Research Project. Over $2 million to various institutions focusing on using video games for public health research. Some of these projects are research-only projects while others are focused on games for public consumption. For you NPR listeners, you may have heard their sponsorship announced for the past few months.

At Games for Change conference in NYC, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her collaboration with Arizona State University with a game called Our Courts. It’s a piece that addresses the lack of knowledge of the American judicial system.

It is clear that there are existing venues of funding for public works of games. I can’t see how any foundation would say no to a well proposed video game project that fits their goals. I wish developers would take more interest in pursuing these grants. However, there’s a common thread among all of these projects that I think a CPM would will the need: Publishing Services.

Publishing and distribution of a title is not as easy. Even with titles that are free to play for a consumer via the Internet, the marketing of your game and distribution is wildly crazy. And don’t get me started on console development! This isn’t to say that it’s impossible for a grant institution to make a successful marketing campaign for a project, but right now that kind of effort needs to be invested per project. There is no central body that focus attention on distribution of public interactive media. With an organization that specializes in publishing services, the publishing line items can be assigned to a different grant institution, rather than demanding more costs to pay a third party for publishing.

Enter the CPM. While I would hope for a grand-giving wing of the organization, the primary role would be publishing services. This would be the minimum involvement for a title included in the CPM portfolio and include:

  • Infrastructure investments (bandwidth, hosting solutions, etc)
  • Quality Assurance
  • Marketing of titles
  • Customer Support / Troubleshooting
  • Console publisher relations & console port development.

The CPM would have a goal of building a reputation as a solid venue of interactive content, just as NPR and PBS do with their content. Instead of building a marketing campaign from the ground up per title, the network reduces the marketing development for any new title. Using Our Courts as an example, the development from Arizona State and et all are paid for. The CPM’s roll can range up the web server architecture, pays the bandwidth bills, etc. In addition, the marketing wing includes Our Courts as apart of the CPM network. First-tier support handled by CPM, which is a huge reduction of burden on the developer!

Then there’s taking the project further to other venues. It would be great to see Our Courts on consoles using the exiting digital distribution channels for each console. Sadly, there’s no way a publicly funded institution can effectively launch such a plan and effectively negotiate with any one or more console manufacture for a freely distributable title. CPM would help to create a relationship with the big three and help to bridge the development and distribution gaps between. But that’s another post for another time