I’m not sure which is more surprising the fact that someone created a video games using the annotations feature in YouTube, or the fact that they made a game about Mad Men. The stylized interactive game called Mad Men: The Game based on the Emmy award winning show Mad Men was created by the production team of Benny and Rafi Fine. The game racked in over half a million hits on YouTube in under a month. But first lets dive in to how this Mad Men inspired game works. See Mad Men: The Game plays similar to the Dungeons and Dragons games of old, it sets players on an adventure that is predicated on the players choices. The choices are offered to the player through annotations. For example, say the game has Betty Draper standing in the dead center of a long hallway that is separated by two doors. The player will then be able to choose which door Betty Draper continues on to. Then, the video will continue or depending on the players choice will link you to another YouTube video or website where the adventure continues.
Although game content wise the Fine brothers haven’t done anything necessarily new or revolutionary, as this is one of oldest forms of interactive games. Nevertheless no one has ever thought of incorporating this game mode within YouTube. A process or idea that couldn’t come into fruition until late 2008 when YouTube announced is new annotation feature. A feature that by most is used rather annoyingly to advertise, spam, or link to content creators catalogue of work, but never to create a walled in, interactive gaming experience. The craziest thing about the Fine brothers creation is that it was a purely fan made product. There was no commission or sponsorship from Lionsgate TV, which owns the intellectual property of Mad Men. The interactive game does not follow the story arch of the TV show, but the narrative is a fan made stand alone section of the story. Surprisingly the Fine brothers cannot be sued for the games creation and posting to YouTube. The brothers claim they are protected by the fair use doctrine, which protects parodies.
The Brothers have made interactive adventure games for Saved by the Bell and American Idol independent of the TV show networks consent. Personally I would be surprise with the success and popularity of the brother’s games, if AMC and Lionsgate TV disapprove of the content. “People are growing up with an engaged way of interacting with their media,” says Benny Fine. He is exactly right we are more engaged with all of our media in a very interactive way, whether is just includes a like button. Nevertheless the Brothers has taken a fairly old form of media and created a new interactive experience that is taken the web by storm.