As MTV continues its huge promotional push on social media for the upcoming series Scream, the network has unveiled its latest method for hooking potential viewers—"killing" them.
In the spirit of Scream, a series based on the hit horror-film franchise that debuts June 30, MTV has launched Choose Your Own Murder, an interactive online game that places users in the middle of their own horror movie scenario, which unfolds from their POV and asks them to select from various options a way to escape a killer that's pursuing them.
As the game begins, the user is about to have sex with a half-naked woman when there's a noise outside the bedroom. The action pauses while the user has 10 seconds to choose between two options: "Go check it out" or "Ignore it." As in the Choose Your Own Adventure books, the story unfolds differently depending on the path users take. (Later options include "Run for door"/"Hide & call someone" and "Stay where you are"/"Go out window.")
The end result, however, is always the same: users are murdered, and in a variety of different ways—sometimes right after their first selection. "No matter what you choose, you die," said Matt McDonough, MTV's director of digital strategy and fan engagement. However, there's always life after simulated death; users are immediately given the option to play again or share the game via social media.
Choose Your Own Murder represents MTV's latest social-media splash as the network promotes Scream, its highest-profile summer series. Last October, MTV used its Twitter and Snapchat accounts to direct fans to call a phone number that announced Scream's arrival in 2015. In May, MTV shared its Killer Party promo, which featured stars from shows like Teen Wolf and Awkward and Faking It all "murdered" after attending the worst. party. ever.
"When we look at digital and social, we think, are there ways to create experiences that we think fit the thematic tone of the franchise but also take advantage of what those platforms do well beyond just highlighting video content to create an experience that people are going to want to spend time with and share?" said Jack Daley, vp of digital content strategy and production. "We wanted something that's interactive and replayable, but it doesn't feel like you have to spend 45 minutes to do it."
"Scream has always been about using all the horror movie clichés and then breaking them," said McDonough. "So, it always has to start with the hot girl in her underwear. You always have to go with the rules of surviving a horror movie—don't run up the stairs, never say 'I'll be right back'—but no matter what you do in the Scream franchise, those rules can always be broken." As a result, the game "felt very aligned with the essence of what that franchise is," said Daley.
The unique promotional approach was also born out of necessity, given the secrecy surrounding who among the show's characters live and die.
"Going with something that has as many spoilers as Scream, you have a limited amount to work with on what we can reveal but making something that tells our audience that we know horror was something that was really important to us," said McDonough.
MTV partnered on the game with outside production company Divide and Conquer, which brought on directors Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch, who helmed the 2014 horror film Starry Eyes. Media and technology company Interlude, meanwhile, handled the game's choose-your-own-adventure-style elements. "It really feels like you're making choices that are influencing a seamless piece of video content," said Daley.
The network hopes users will share Choose Your Own Murder as much as its previous promotional content for Scream. "At the core, this is where our audience is, and this is where they're spending their time and attention. It's where they're consuming an increasing amount of content, broadly defined, and communicating with each other," said Daley.
That also means there will be more Scream social media activity to come. "We're going to be pushing a lot of content and promotion out through all of those channels from now through the entire season," Daley said. "We want to surround you with all things Scream, and different consumers will react to different pieces of that. So it's just part of the puzzle."