October 24, 2007
Producing the CSI:NY/Second Life Crossover: An Interview with Electric Sheep's Taylor and Krueger (2 of 4)

What follows is an interview with Electric Sheep Company producers Daniel Krueger and Damon Taylor about their involvement in the CSI:NY/Second Life collaboration that launches with tonight's episode of the crime scene investigation drama on CBS. For a background on the crossover, look at this post from earlier today.

Sam Ford: To start off with, what do the two of you believe are some of the most compelling aspects of the CSI:NY/Second Life crossover that's taking place tonight, and what are the benefits for CBS and CSI:NY, on the one hand, and for Second Life other other?

Damon Taylor: This experience is compelling for users from two different perspectives. One of those perspectives is new users of Second Life, who are new to virtual worlds in general. The other perspective is for existing Second Life users. Potential new users who are fans of CSI:NY will care about this crossover because it will give them the opportunity to wrestle with CSI content in a way that has never been made available to them before. We have endeavored and achieved a true cross-platform experience where these fans can watch the television show, see the storyline that began on the TV show continued in-world, and then see the storyline jump back to the TV show next February when there is a sequel show that wraps up the storyline that starts tonight.

In the meantime, we give new users who have never been in a virtual world a closed universe experience where they can come into Second Life, familiarize themselves with this world and what it means to be in a virtual world, and play and interact with mystery game experiences that interest them. This crossover gives fans of CSI:NY a reason and an excuse to come into a virtual world and do something that is functional, exciting, interesting, and engaging, and that will also open their eyes to the utilities of virtual worlds as vehicles of entertainment and interaction with other people who watch this television show and may share similar interests.

Daniel Krueger: We have also come up with our new viewer for Second Life here at Electric Sheep called OnRez, which basically streamlines the somewhat confusing traditional Second Life interface with a nice, slick viewer that will make it a lot easier for new users to grasp Second Life quicker than they would have in the past.

Damon Taylor: That's a great point. What we are doing is taking a Web interface model that we are all familiar with and adopting it in the context of virtual worlds.

Daniel Krueger: What's important here is that fans of this show can now experience CSI:NY in a different medium. Usually, they sit in front of the show watching characters perform these tasks, so now fans can get to do these activities themselves and take on a role as a virtual crime scene investigator. While they aren't solving the same crimes that are happening on TV in many of these activities, they are solving fun and engaging Second Life virtual crimes. For instance, we have the Murder by Zuiker game, which will see a murder scene set up where users will go in and see what's going on and then write up, in 500 words or less, what they think has happened. They will post this onto a site linked directly to this game, and Zuiker, the executive producer of the CSI franchise, will read them all and choose the top 10 pieces. He will post those 10 responses and explain what happened in that particular crime, and each of the winners of that game will get a prize. This gives fans a different way to interact with the show.

Damon Taylor: Here you have one of the most popular franchises of all time. These shows are only seen once a week. CBS, led by Anthony E. Zuiker, the creator of the franchise, has 16 million plus viewers who watch CSI:NY, and now they get the opportunity to interact with the franchise every day if they feel like it. For CSI:NY, this gives them the opportunity to put the franchise in front of the fans as much as the fans want. For Second Life and Linden Labs, these 16 million viewers of CSI:NY can be used as a vehicle to to bring new users to Second Life and give them the opportunity to understand and grapple with the benefits and value of playing and living and doing business in virtual worlds.

Daniel Krueger: If you think about it, if there are 16 million viewers of this show and only 1 percent of them decide to come into Seocnd Life, that's a lot of new users.