|Would J.R. have made You tube videos, Wikis, Tweets, Video Games and PDF only Roleplaying games based off his most loved work?|
My comment repsonse to an intriguing article by IDG on the infulence of Tolkien on the digital age.
In summary, the article talks about how Tolkien was one of the first to create a truly interactive, multimedia experience, with Lord of the Rings. He did not just write a book, say article's authors, he wrote songs, drew maps, and created a language for people to immerse themselves into. They say that with communication technology at the level that it is, we should expect to see similar multi-layer works coming to your local Kindle.
Here's my two cents:
"As a child, my mother taught me how to read using the Lord of the Rings books. As I got older, I would fall asleep listening to the audio books (on tape no less). So I see your point about the value of a multimedia experience with a good book. Whether Tolkien himself would like the idea is not necessarily relevant. After all, George Lucas did not write ever Star Wars book, video game, cartoon, roleplaying game etc.
I also agree that in the future, we the public could expect to see more multilayered content with some of the more successful fiction projects. I believe that we will, most likely, see this coming out of the same kind of fiction that has already produced these kinds of seven layer cakes of content: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel comics and DC comics.
Commercial potential, however, will be a big factor in the creation of these multi-layered media empires. The common threads between all those above worlds seems to be 1) a setting that has strong structure that cannot the less be expanded upon and altered and 2) characters that are robust and draw the attention of a large audience that includes other creative, and finally, most importantly 3) awesome commercial potential. With all the extra work required to create these 3 or 4 dimensional opus’ , I very much doubt that if a particular fiction project doesn't draw a significant profit, that anyone will be willing or able to produce more content past the central books. No movie studio would have touched the Lord of the Rings project until they were at least confident in getting their money back on it (and their investment certainly paid off).
Therefore, the “future Tolkien” that we hope to see may benefit from following Tolkien's model of world building. Assuming their project has a large, shapable world and potent characters, it will then take investors, most likely working through Kickstarter and other media-funding venues, to help pay for the creation of the other layers of content, especially big impact tie-ins like movies, video games, roleplaying games, and those companion books I'm so addicted too. This will take either extra work from the original creator, collaboration between the original creator and other creators, or both.
All of this will be up to the grand consumer public to decide which project is worthy of multi-layer status or not, for if the public is not all in, then the work will not be appreciated, and no new content will exist past the first wave of extra content. Star Wars’ success has allowed the world to thrive 30-40 years after it was first envisioned.
Though, as food for thought, the Greek legends of Hercules, Peresus etc. have persisted for thousands of years, and I very much doubt that the origonal creators made very much money off their myths. Perhaps, then, since commercial success only comes from a fan base that has opportunities to pay for content, all you really need to have this multilayer experience are fans willing to experience it and creators will to make it.
I smell government art grants!"
What do you think? Would Tolkien have an I-Phone, or is that blasphemy?