MMORPGs, Evil Geniuses and Vlogging: The Wonderful World of Web Series

Greetings, and a good afternoon/morning/evening to you all!

In my last post I spent a lot of time professing my love for Pride and Prejudice and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Today I’m going to branch out a bit more and talk about web series in general and how they differ from traditional media. 

Web series aren’t as new a media form as you may think. The first series date back almost 20 years, however one of the most revolutionary web series (in my opinion) was Felicia Day’s series The Guild. Felicia Day, Queen of the Internet, used video blogging to tell the story of Codex, an Internet addict, and her online gaming guild.

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[Fig. 1: Season 6 banner from The Guild Facebook page]
They call themselves ‘The Knights of Good’

Apart from being hilarious and addictive, The Guild did something that web series in the past hadn’t done before. Web series weren’t just a shorter version of traditional film media any more; they were tailored specifically for the web.

The following year the glorious Joss Whedon created the Internet musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. If you’ve ever had the desire to see Neil Patrick Harris as a video blogging evil genius who sometimes bursts into song, this is the series for you!

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[Fig. 2: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog]
Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day all in one musical? What more could you ask for!

Both Dr. Horrible and The Guild had elements of video blogging integrated into each episode, however they weren’t fully comprised of video blog material. This is where we come back to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Every single video of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is filmed as a video blog as if Lizzie Bennet was a real person who had decided to start making YouTube videos in her spare time. In fact there were some people who thought she was a real person when the series first began. Throughout the course of the series they had other characters film their own vlogs that interacted with the main videos.

But wait, there’s more!

Pemberley Digital took things a step further by setting up twitter accounts for each character. It created a new, interactive way of storytelling. Viewers of the show could see the characters interacting with each other and the fans across a variety of platforms, allowing viewers to get a further look into the characters’ lives without being restricted to what transpired on camera.

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[Fig. 3: Photos from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries characters’ twitter feeds]
These photos document on a walking tour of San Francisco that never appeared in the main videos

All the platforms Pemberley Digital used to tell the story are freely available to anyone with Internet access and are a part of many people’s daily lives already. This is partly why so many non-professional filmmakers were inspired to adopt this mode of storytelling.

Web series, especially YouTube series, are an incredibly important development in the media industry. They foster a closer relationship between show creators and viewers as feedback can be relayed as soon as new episodes are released in the comments section, they’re easy to access and normally free, which is fantastic for those of us on a budget, and anyone with a video camera and Internet access can easily create and publish their own productions online. Power to the people!

I’m going to leave it there for now. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to talking more about literature based web series and how classic texts are going online, so stay tuned for that!

–Papercircuitry

Check out The Guild and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog below!

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