60 Seconds with Jeroen Elfferich
He has been working on online gaming technology since 1998 and mobile since that time, and he defines his interest as being in synchronous, social and interactive entertainment across mobile, web and TV. He is speaking on two panels: ‘The Rise Of The Second Screen and How It Impacts Content Innovation’ and ‘The Role of Games in the Connected TV Experience’
Q. You’ve been working on second screen technology since 2004. How far has the technology come in that time?
Q.What sort of material are you finding is currently the best fit across first and second screens?
A. The ideal case is a live show, with frequent call to actions. This allows people to discover meaningful, social and balanced interaction which in turn results in enhancing the TV show itself, creating a rewarding feedback loop.
Q. How far would you say we are along in the evolution of second screen entertainment? Have we moved beyond the ‘just repeat video on an iPad’ stage?
A. Definitely. Last weekend we ran a second screen experience during the debate with the four candidates for prime minister in our upcoming elections. For the first time the overall winner of the debate was picked in real time by viewers picking their favourite on the second screen. It’s no longer an addition, in a growing number of programs it’s part of the core of the show.
Q. How different is it working on second screen to traditional television. Are any of the creative skills portable?
A. Yes. The creative processes that take place while creating a TV format can easily be mixed with notions relevant for second screen. But there are some other areas that are coming into the mix. Social media expertise and game design and theory knowledge in my view for the basis of the best possible creative approach to second screen: creating rich entertainment, making it social, and making it fun to interact with.
Q What is your all-time favourite game?
A. That’s the hardest question in this interview. Fondest memories is probably of Soul Calibur with a good mate on my Dreamcast, via VGA out to a beamer on a 2 meter wide screen, playing with proper arcade sticks.
Q. What technology is needed to make gaming really work with television? Or is that more of a creative question?
A. It’s all starting to blend. I’m very excited about Airplay and similar technologies, more so than cloud gaming on TV sets itself or any part of the whole smart TV thing for that matter. I think the device you hold in your hand, connected, with powerful CPU and GPU, beaming content to your big screen, is an incredibly powerful notion to succeed the existing and still dominant console part of the gaming industry.
Q. Looking round the industry, what applications have you seen that impress you?
A. As said I’m a big fan of Airplay. I also think Microsoft is doing a great job unifying games and broader entertainment – their Smartglass concept appeals a lot more to me that what Nintendo is trying with Wii U. Let’s hope they deliver this time around, Live Anywhere was an equally sound idea that never really took off due to the lock-in restrictions. On the second screen side I see great things happening in areas beyond voting for talent and aggregating tweets. I hope that something like Intuition, a made-for-second-screen game format we did with Fremantle, will be followed by many others, creating synchronous interactive experiences, uniting millions of people around a shared event.
Q. What developments are you expecting to see in the field at IBC?
A. From a second screen perspective we’ll see a lot of tools that will make it easier to integrate it in the production workflow. Generating TV graphics, integrated content creation etcetera. Also a lot of big established players will announce or introduce new second screen products. Which is great, as it’ll make more people hear about second screen, and when they’ll start researching whose the most experienced and robust technology provider around they should stumble across us ;-)
Q. Say we hold the same panels in 10 years time, what would you expect to be speaking about there?
A. Well technology for improving interactive entertainment will still be a topic I’m sure! And screens will have evolved from the tiniest (smart glasses and the likes) to biggest (wall sized flatscreens anyone?) and seamlessly link and move. And maybe we don’t even leave our house anymore to attend IBC, we’ll all be here virtually. Then again the same thing was predicted 20 years ago, and look where we are now. Did I mention I shouldn’t forget to bring a stack of business cards?