Alan Seiffert on SyFy’s Foray into MMO Games

You could tell he gets games. Probably the most outwardly passionate executive at last week’s Future of Television East conference was Alan Seiffert, a senior vice president at SyFy Networks. He was engaged. He sat forward when he spoke. He was animated. He was proud of his company.

Some executives sat on these panels acting smugly or looking as if they would rather be elsewhere. Maybe it was because they had pressing work to do. Maybe it’s because the topics at these panels are too much about trends. And the same trends are covered in other, similar conventions.

But Seiffert was different. He talked about games as if he cared. He talked about games as if he didn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t as passionate as he was when he said, “We’re doing something revolutionary by partnering with Trion Worlds to make an MMO that will run in tandem with our network television show.”

The party line is that it’s not just an MMO based on a TV series. According to Trion CEO Lars Buttler, the TV show and the MMO depend on each other to move forward. In other words, they will co-evolve. It’s not the first time something like this has been attempted. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, for instance, has a sister MMO that’s updated with new content, pretty much as each show premieres.

But Trion is hot right now as company. Rift: Planes of Telara, its upcoming MMO, has generated much salubrious buzz. And if the TV group and the game group can truly work together – a ginormous if – who knows what kind of music – and videogame history – they can make together?

So that’s why Seiffert was stoked. SyFy could change the nature of games as far as transmedia goes. And even if it doesn’t change everything, small steps forward are important, too.

You have to wish the other executives – all obviously smart people – had the same enthusiasm about games. If only love for games was a virus. The other could have caught the bug from Seiffert.

-Harold Goldberg


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