Steve Peters

Experience Design

A Simple Solution

In transmedia and ARG circles (are there really such things?), there's an ongoing discussion about hoaxing players and the need not to. The FCC has made rules about full disclosure of advertising, which led some to believe there would be a crackdown on fictional characters and websites. What happens when a cancer patient stumbles upon a website for a pharma company that has just released a new miracle drug, only to find out later that it was part of a viral marketing campaign? This sort of thing will become an issue more and more, as transmedia storytelling techniques take hold. I have a proposal for a simple solution to this problem. It's actually pretty basic...

When you go into a bookstore or library, there are basically two sections: fiction and non-fiction. It seems reasonable to inform people whether the book that they're going to read is real or fictional. Films take a similar tack, although they usually handle it a little differently. Documentary vs. Feature film (although some blur the lines to be sure).

So, what's my proposal? Easy. The Fiction Tag.

Set up a new HTML standard. Put a little tag in the source code of a web site (voluntarily, of course). Your browser reads it and puts a small visual indicator somewhere letting you know if the site is real or a part of a fictional universe. Sort of the way secure (https://) sites put the little key in the address bar and/or changes the color to let you know the info you're entering is encrypted and safe from prying eyes.

To me, this is a much better solution than a huge disclaimer link. Whaddya think? Who do we talk to about getting this implemented?