KL DAT SuCKA * * *
By Eric Lin, Wed Aug 27 20:45:00 GMT 2003

New game shows in Finland and the Philippines usher a new era in interactive programming. Instead of just voting for a character, players actually control a character, duking it out via SMS on a TV battlefield.

Texting to vote a player on or off a game show is, as the kids would say, so last year. Voting by SMS encourages players to interact with shows, but not with each other. That is, it doesn’t create a community around the shows much beyond that of "normal" fandom.

New shows in text-crazy countries such as Finland and the Philippines are actually a platform for "battles" between teams of texters. The BBC reports that these new shows are still young, and they don't have big ratings yet. However they are creating a community of users who interact with each other, not just with a television. Players battle it out on a virtual field by SMSing instructions to computer characters or teams they are watching on the TV. If a player has to drop out, substitutes are waiting in the wings to help push their team or character on to fame.

These first games have limited appeal and a limited audience, but they are still a step forward in interactive programming. In the article Ashley Smith, a consultant for Van Dusseldorp is quoted "We need to move away from something just for gamers and to something that people will be interested in watching, like Robot Wars." These users are not mixing it up out in the streets like they do in Robot Wars, but they are still doing something to make TV programming theirs- being a part of the show instead of just watching it. Are the vultures circling the couch potatoes?