Murder Street, a participatory fictional game-in-the-making by Laurent Guérin and Alain Degove (Murmures Productions, Citymoviz), has won the first edition of Ateliers, a call for multiscreen (internet, mobile and TV) project proposals launched in December by Orange. Five finalists were chosen out of 140 proposals. One of them is Murder Street, which is to come out by the end of the year (2010) on the web and on mobiles.
This multiscreen project is a textbook example of Orange’s content policy, says Xavier Couture, content director at Orange, making a case that it is fully legitimate for the telco to produce and back an original transmedia project for 25 million mobile subscribers and 22 million hits per month on its Orange.fr website. Stéphan Jost, a content manager in the Business Development & Innovation department, explains that the idea behind Ateliers was to “give producers the keys to the Orange network so they can reach end customers via Orange tools”. To this end, the Transmedia Lab is developing technological solutions for producers and distributors with a view to enabling transmedia distributions to make the most of Orange’s R&D networks and capabilities.
Project Murder Street will receive €300,000 in startup money from Orange. The CNC (French National Center of Cinematography and the Moving Image) is giving Murmures Production a €20,000 grant for development and €100,000 for the production within the framework of its support for new-media-geared television projects. Other sources of funding are envisaged: advertising (on the site), SMS, audiotel, pay-to-use smartphone applications, as well as brand content and product placement partnerships. The funding approach is based on a revenue-sharing arrangement with Orange.
The prize-winning project Murder Street is a fictional interactive game, rather like “Clue”, and voyeuristic in the manner of Hitchcock’s Rear Window or the site HBOVoyeur.com (2007). The pitch revolves around a central figure, Gaëlle, who moves into her late sister apartment after the latter is found dead. Convinced that the murderer is someone in the building, Gaëlle investigates with help from viewers/internauts watching from the building across the street. Gaëlle then mysteriously disappears, whereupon it is up to us to sleuth out the culprit – and find and free Gaëlle….
The project was written by Aurélie Belko, Sabine Cipolla and Marc Eisenchteter. Alain Degove supervises the artwork and production, Laurent Guérin coordinates the use of new media.
Fully immersed in the Murder Street microcosm, the internaut can watch the heroine in action, but also the other tenants in the building through their lighted windows. He can search the suspects’ apartments, listen to Gaëlle’s voicemail and follow up several leads. The video episodes are uploaded onto the platforms every day, enabling the internaut to make daily progress in his investigation.
The project will involve various social networks, including the creation of Facebook groups and the use of information sharing forums. Internaut sleuths can win a bonus by taking on daily challenges, and seek clues in real life (flashcodes at Orange stores). A video conference with Gaëlle is also planned. Two games will be run: the first to go online, in 60 x 2? format, is in “challenge” mode and has a single solitary culprit for everyone and concludes upon Gaëlle’s rescue. The second mode will have variable perpetrators, allowing for new gamers to join, and will use the same initial screenplay.
Murder Street is designed for the general public and targets 15-45-year-olds, with a bull’s-eye target group aged 15-24.