Three decades after “WarGames” bought the world to the brink of thermonuclear Armageddon, the franchise is being reborn as an interactive story — in which you, the viewer, decide the fate of key characters and plot points.
Interactive-media startup Eko announced that “#WarGames” will launch in early 2018. The interactive series is based on MGM’s 1983 film starring Matthew Broderick as a whiz teen hacker. Eko, previously known as Interlude, announced the project two years ago in partnership with MGM.
The series is created by Sam Barlow, the acclaimed British video-game director behind 2015’s “Her Story.” Eko hired Barlow last year as creative director. Brooklyn-based production company m ss ng p eces is a production partner on “#WarGames.”
“#WarGames” is really only conceptually based on the original film, and would appear to draw as much inspiration from more recent hacker-culture fare like Sam Esmail’s “Mr. Robot.” The interactive series follows a group of young hackers who get involved in a web of modern espionage and government conspiracy. Viewers direct the story of the lead character, hacker protagonist Kelly, who “represents the breadth of modern hacker culture and its humanity,” according to Barlow.
“With ‘#WarGames’ I was thrilled to take the questions raised by the original movie and ask them again in a world where technology has fundamentally changed our lives,” Barlow said. “To do that interactively felt like a perfect marriage of form and content.”
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Eko hasn’t revealed distribution plans for “#WarGames,” but currently the company distributes interactive series on HelloEko.com and through affiliate partners and social media.
Last month, Eko launched interactive comedy “That Moment When,” in which viewers can help Jill, played by Milana Vayntrub (best known for her role in a series of AT&T commercials), pass a test to get a new roommate and avoid running into her boss after faking being sick. The seven-episode series is produced by Olive Bridge Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Other media companies have been experimenting with interactive-storytelling formats. Netflix debuted two interactive kids’ shows this summer — “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale” and “Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile” — and is looking at developing similar “choose-your-own adventure” shows for adults, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said at an investor conference this week.
HBO, meanwhile, worked with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh on “Mosaic,” which launched last month as an app that lets viewers choose the narrative outcome of a murder mystery. Soderbergh’s cut of “Mosaic,” starring Sharon Stone, will premiere on HBO as a six-part limited series on Jan. 22.
New York-based Eko, which changed its name from Interlude a year ago, is backed by investors including Innovation Endeavors, Intel Capital, Marker, MGM, NEA, Samsung, Sequoia Capital, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and WPP. The company owns seven patents for its technology, including its proprietary player and authoring tools. It offers the free Eko Studio suite of authoring tools to creators to make interactive experiences on Eko’s platform.
Watch the teaser trailer for Eko and MGM’s “WarGames” series: