2017 is going to be seriously exciting. I have writers on board for a raft of planned projects (so it’s not just me this time), and we’re going to spend the year trialling interactive experiences with a small group of testers. I’m looking at the process as though we’re a software startup; we’ll be beta testing before the release of product 1.0.
A number of people have told me we should be charging for the beta experiences. I don't want to do that. We really do need to be able to fail. This is research. Even charge a single buck and, to my mind, you’ve got a responsibility to deliver something.
Also, I’ve been reading about the inspiring work of Wanderlust Projects/Sextantworks and how they got started making free experiences. In Ida C. Benedetto’s essay Notes on Gift Giving she said "Our events are free because we haven’t figured out how to square charging money with keeping guests in the mindset of receiving the experience as a gift." (That’s from back in 2013 so I suspect she’s answered that question to her own satisfaction by now.)
I really want the experiences we will be creating to be received as gifts, even though money will be changing hands further down the track. I feel the way to do this is simply through intention. Everything’s designed as a gift. The intent (at least) will show in the work.
So much of cultural production (maybe all of it) comes from generosity of spirit, of people simply wanting to give. I’m an avid listener to immersive/experiential podcasts No Proscenium and My Haunt Life, both of which feel like they’re fresh minted from pure enthusiasm and are regular gifts that help me feel connected to what’s going on in the wider world.
And I love what Ida C. Bennedetto says on her site www.uncommonplaces.com about “opening people up to risk in a caring way”. Nailed it! The thrill of creating an immersive experience is knowing how profound the impact of that experience can potentially be. I take the responsibility that involves pretty seriously. Not everyone in this field does, I think.