Interactive stimuli in real time

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Jay Ferguson has taken interactive fiction to a new level.

Ferguson, the creator of web series Guidestones, feels that he has revamped the viewing experience for the public, and not just through the gripping adventure in the story, which centres around two journalism students attempting to uncover details of an unsolved murder.

“As they do so, they uncover a global conspiracy that takes them around the world,” Ferguson explained.

What separates Guidestones from traditional TV and web series is its real-time format. “You sign up with your e-mail address and you get alerts as the adventures unfold,” said Ferguson. “The story takes place over three weeks, so if something happens in the middle of the night, you get an alert in the middle of the night … You can watch it then, or watch it later.”

Though Ferguson has a background creating more traditional media content, he became intrigued about creating web-exclusive content several years ago. “At first I thought it was just shorter-form episodes of television,” he explained. “But then as I looked deeper and deeper into it, I found […] online viewership is different. It wants to be more active and proactive.”

Ferguson remarked that readily-available content has become a commodity in the online world. “We know that audiences, including myself, are like, ‘I wanna watch this, and I wanna watch it now.’”

Wanting to capitalize on the power of tools such as Google, Ferguson declared, “We thought if we made it a little bit more interactive, it might make it more fun for people to get involved.”

Through supplementary videos and web sites created by the Guidestones team, Ferguson and his crew have created an online world where viewers can attempt to beat the protagonists to the clues. “It becomes a big treasure hunt online,” Ferguson explained.

According to Ferguson, his online world has gathered much attention in a short time. “We just launched a few weeks ago and we’re finding that people are really getting active. It’s hard not to seek this stuff out —people are getting addicted to it, it’s kind of crazy.” A linear version of Guidestones will be released in several months via iTunes and Hulu.

“You can just watch the whole thing from beginning to end if you want,” Ferguson explained. “We’re trying to meet the needs and appetites of all the different viewerships out there.”

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