Why Defiance's Grant Bowler is looking forward to gamer feedback

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Jul 23, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT

With a living videogame that continues to push the out the boundaries of the story and an eventful close to the first season, Syfy's Defiance was on the tips of TV junkies' tongues at Comic-Con. Talk of season two is building, and many will be watching how well they can keep or grow momentum in the offseason given the unique tools they have at work.

"Season 1 is done, but the universe of Defiance keeps going," said Rob Hill, senior producer at Trion, who helped develop the videogame arm of Syfy's hit TV series. "But the game doesn't stop, and we're able to take advantage of the off season and be able to tell stories, our own stories or stories that may be happen in Defiance and lead into season two."

"For example, we have a character that will be coming into the game, and I can't say who, but their interactions with the player will lead into Defiance during that off season. It's never been done before, and we're really excited to see how it goes." Then there are the contests. This past season, one gamer got to see his or her face incorporated into a mugshot poster that appeared on the television show. How are they going to top that in this off-season contest? One gamer will get a chance to travel to the set in Toronto and have a walk-on role.

No doubt other networks are seeing if Syfy's big investment pays off. Other gaming companies are looking to see if Defiance can be successful in being so heavily tied to a television show that they are in the writers' room hammering out which elements play out on the show vs. the game. It's a novel approach, and Hill insists the game is more of an additive experience but also one that has created a strong base of gamers who are invested in the television show too. For example, the Defiance plague and its cure were fleshed out better in the videogame, and the Hellbugs were terrorizing gamers long before the show started.

"So you may be sitting on the couch with someone who's never played the game, watching the show, and you have an inside knowledge by playing the game," said Hill. "If there's a new character on the show from the game, that gamer knows how that character's going to act, and figure out what they're going to do. Someone who's never played the game may not."

Most licensed videogames based on movies or a television show are an afterthought, hollow, lazy cash grabs. Defiance has bucked that stigma, and that feat is impressive considering that there was no blueprint to follow.

Defiance star Grant Bowler has been a gamer for over 20 years and knows how fickle his brethren can become if the technology and support aren't up to par. "Gamers are the most impatient audience in the world," Bowler said. "So what I want to hear is the gamers come back to us with suggestions, feedback, get onto the forums and start a dialogue. The moment we make it about all of us, the better; then it becomes a social experiment."

"The goal of Defiance was to attempt synergy with gaming and explore the third platforms, whether they be Syfy Sync App, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, etc., so that we can continue the conversation. What I'm hoping for is an audience that's diving into the game every once in a while, either to try to get ahead on story elements or capitalize on elements that have left the show and gone into the game, but also keeping up with Sync and those third screen experiences and that direct contact with us through social media, so they're in touch with the makers of the show."

"Reducing everything to one screen is the future -- however that manifests itself -- but it's the many portals," Bowler added. "We want to be pushing those boundaries, and we should be; Defiance has the opportunity to be at the forefront of that. This is an experiment, but it depends on our gamers to define how involved they get."