The BBC posed the question: Can drama be interactive? We were delighted to be asked to take up the challenge of finding out the answer. And for us, the real test was to take a highly recognised brand like the popular drama, Casualty, and create an immersive interactive experience that engaged existing fans whilst appealing to a newer audience. At the time there were no comparable projects – Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch was a while away – and so, we were innovating from scratch.
Casualty: First Day is a 22 minute long interactive video episode of the popular primetime, long-running UK hospital drama, Casualty. Filmed in the first person, the player takes on the role of a Junior Doctor on their first day on the ward. The player interacts with popular characters from the show, encountering situations where they can select from a variety of responses. One such moment at the start involves Connie, the formidable boss, asking why you are late to work: the player has the choice to apologise or fire back a witty response. The idea was that if we gave the player this kind of agency, they would feel emotionally involved from the outset. We worked with the show’s scriptwriters to develop an engaging story that would work digitally; that would grab players from the outset, rather than the slow story building that the medium of TV affords.
The BBC trusted us to be the first studio to use the then brand-new platform, Eko Studio, to create the interactive video experience. To make this happen we had to create a number of prototypes to determine what was possible. Once we understood the technical limitations, we set about designing the interactive experience using video, audio and light-touch gaming mechanics to engage the audience.
The experience is packed with ‘water cooler moments’ – hard decisions and moral dilemmas – designed to get people talking about it.
Casualty: First Day was played over 1.5 million times and was by far the most shared experience on the BBC Taster site, winning two BBC Taster Awards as well as being nominated for a prestigious Rockie Award.