Meet the Storytelling Platform Behind USA’s ‘Psych: The S#cial Sector’


Fans who followed USA’s “Psych: The S#cial Sector” to its conclusion probably know whodunit, but they might not know who made the video storytelling platform that they used to help solve the mystery.  Meet Tracy Evans, co-creator and COO of Theatrics.

USA discovered Theatrics through its previous project, “Beckinfield,” an interactive sci-fi web series that launched in November 2010. At the time, said Evans, the network execs already had other plans for “Psych,” but the platform won them over with its potential to involve the viewers in the story.

Over the course of eight weeks, fans followed detectives Shawn and Gus (played by James Roday and Dulé Hill) as they solved the case of a reality series in which the contestants were turning up dead.

Using Theatrics’ collaborative video storytelling platform, viewers could play the role of Digital Assistants as they helped the show’s stars crack the case through a series of challenges, games, and real-time conversations on Twitter.

At the heart of the second screen experience was the “Theory Wall,” where viewers shared their observations about the show’s contestants with the team and the other community members.

For Evans and Theatrics co-founders Bob Gebert, Biff Van Cleve, and Steve Park, the challenge was in making the video platform simple enough for a broader audience. Viewers were given a choice of recording a video directly from their webcams or uploading one from their computers.

“It really struck us how comfortable audience members were in recording videos and speaking to the camera,” Evans said, “from grade schoolers to grandmas.”

The enthusiasm and personality of each Psych-O shone through as the Digital Assistants went over the show’s details with a fine-tooth comb. “Chess seems to play a big role in this case,” theorized one viewer, who posted the video under the handle jcardozo. “Tyler is clearly playing chess and Grey is reading a book on [Nikola] Tesla, who was an engineer and an avid chess player…Interesting.”

Now that the series has run its course, Theatrics has launched in Beta a creative platform where artists can develop characters and story concepts and invite other members to get involved.

“We cracked the code on making user-generated content fun and social,” Evans said. “The next step is to translate that to artists who want to create their own shows.”

Image via reddit.

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