Judging by the success of alternate-reality games surrounding shows like Lost, as well as more recent acquisitions such as Personal Effects: Dark Art, the next big thing in TV shows (besides supernatural crime dramas) is interactivity. Syfy is apparently taking that vision of the future far more seriously than most: According to this profile in the L.A. Times, the network is partnering with role-playing game designer Trion Worlds to develop a science-fiction franchise that would tie a television series to an online game in the vein of Worlds Of Warcraft, allowing players to guide the events of the show, then watch them play out week to week in a scripted drama that would incorporate scenes of their gameplay.
Tentatively titled One World, it’s set in on an Earth that’s home to many different populations of aliens, whose presence alters the environment and sets off various wars and power struggles. Players would choose to be a human or part of an alien tribe, then engage in various adventures that would inform the background action of the weekly primetime drama, which would follow a group of primary characters whose main storylines are primarily handled by screenwriters headed by Carnivale’s Daniel Knauf, but which would constantly change as a reaction to what’s happening in the game.
Obviously, it's quite a step up from past visions of interactive television—Fahrenheit 451’s immersive "wall-screen" soap operas, for example, or the holographic "Mimecom" of Oliver Stone's Wild Palms (or to a lesser extent, Push, Nevada). And naturally there are considerable challenges to overcome—first and foremost, getting enough people involved in the game to have something for the story to react to, then keeping them hooked. (If only MMOPRG players were an addiction-prone breed.) Still, if Syfy and Trion manage to pull it off, this could pave the way for a whole new generation of interactive TV shows, and thus a future of all-consuming entertainment. Long live the new flesh.