It isn’t very often that top UK digital and entertainment conference choose to be held outside of London, but fortunately for me, one did happen to come to Bath and I was lucky enough to attend. X Media Lab (Cross Media Lab) is THE internationally acclaimed creative industries event and with past events being held in Sydney, Malmo, Kuala Lampur, Beijing, and Mumbai. I was very excited to hear the event was making its way to the very city I live in! The event took place at the Bath Assembly Rooms, which I found pretty ironic considering the fact that the Assembly Rooms’ decor is reminiscent of 18th century ballroom dancing à la Jane Austen – something completely unrelated to talks about development in the video game industry, 3D visual projections, and immersive technology!

After studying the different experts attending the event I knew it was one I would not want to miss out on. There were so many interesting talks but I’ve narrowed this post to include only the speakers who drew the biggest cheers at the conference.

Ed Vaizey, the Minister of Culture, Communications & Creative Industries started off the conference by stating that Bath is “the city for the 21st century”. I know Bath has undergone some major changes over the past few years and from what I’ve been told, the city has been completely transformed from what it was just 5 years ago. Stating things like the government wanting to “take technology and creativity and make it come alive”, the minister did a great job starting off the conference with an inspiring speech to a crowd full of hopeful entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts.

Ian Livingstone OBE

Ian is the Life President of Eidos. If you’re familiar with Lara Croft (Tombraider) and Hitman then you’re familiar with Eidos. However, as popular as the two aforementioned games are, it was the die-hard video gaming Dungeons & Dragons fans that were truly mesmerised by its co-creator standing before them in the flesh.

The Godfather of video games spoke about the coming of age of video games and how the industry has transformed from one associated with teenage boys, hiding in their rooms behind computer screens for hours on end, to an industry that has managed to reach a wide target audience, thanks to the new interactive aspect. Thanks to the introduction of the likes of Wii and Kinect the gaming industry has been able to interest those who were previously excluded.

Jeff Gomez

Jeff is the president of Starlight Runner Entertainment and one of the world’s leading transmedia producers (you may have heard of some of his movies... such as Avatar, Tron, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean!). Jeff had no shame in professing his love for Dungeons and Dragons and was among those I mentioned star-struck in admiration for Ian Livingstone. Jeff’s enthusiasm for transmedia storytelling kept the audience thoroughly entertained – me included. Let me try to take a 30 minute speech and try to condense it into material that will hold your interest for two minutes.

You’re probably asking “What is Transmedia Storytelling (TMS)??” Answer:

The short answer is that it’s a technique, one that conveys messages, themes, and storylines to the audience through artful and well-planned use of multiple media platforms- basically a way to reach out and communicate to the audience. Think of it as a 360° approach to storytelling by coming at it from all angles. The basic premise is that rather than using different media channels to tell the same story, you use these channels and functions to communicate DIFFERENT elements of the story. Mattel’s Hot Wheels started off as just a children’s toy. TMS has now transformed the Hot Wheels brand into something more than just a toy, and now includes comic books, videogames, a cartoon series and also has online content. The brand has expanded beyond its basic premise and as a result, has found multiple ways with engaging with their audience. Pretty cool, huh?

Julian Treasure

Julian is seen as the sound expert and spoke about sound and its effective use for business benefit. As boring as this may sound this talk was actually one of my favourites of the day. To give you an idea of how good Julian is let’s just say he’s given 3 TED talks and there’s a reason for his popularity - check out one of his talks.

Interesting facts:

- Open plan offices can lead to a 66% reduction in work productivity
- Our level of concentration maxes out at a bandwidth of 1.6 conversations? even the girls who think they are expert multi-taskers can’t handle more than two conversations at once :)

As interesting as these facts are it was actually the psychological take he took on the use of sound the really struck a chord with me. Here’s a quick psychology/biology class for you- Our limbic system serves as part of our nervous system and is the centre of our emotions and is responsible for the formation of our memories. It’s our limbic system that gives meaning to our surroundings. Apparently, sound is even more important than sight in terms of attaching meaning to things we experience and using sound as a marketing tool is starting to get acknowledged. You conjure up certain mental images when you hear something even without having anything visual. Your body reacts when you hear someone screaming, birds chirping, or your alarm clock going off in the morning without you even needing to think about it.

While we associate sound with music/entertainment marketers are seeing how it can be used as a powerful tool to captivate their audience and create desire. Who knows what the future holds in terms of technology of sound in business. Bring it on!

And there you have it! There were so many other great speakers and this is just a quick glance as to what the conference had to offer. You want to hear more? Get tickets for next year’s show!

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