Transmedia, apps, and other forms of immersive storytelling are getting more and more popular. For large worlds like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones, to name a few well-known examples, immersive storytelling can be a great extension or better way to connect with readers.
There seems to be a couple different ideas of what immersive storytelling entails. After doing some research, some people have defined it as more transmedia, where a story is more than a book and can be told through various other media, such as games. Other people define immersive storytelling as books, where the story is so good the reader gets sucked in. This can also apply to movies, where the story and the way it is told is so good and so realistic the viewer feels like they are there.
I heard about one sci-fi author who said he was thinking of transitioning from writing books to telling his stories through video games, because it was a more immersive, immediate experience. (I unfortunately forgot to write down that author’s name, so if anyone knows it, please tell me in the comments!)
I think immersive storytelling can come in many forms, so I’ll just go over a few of the ones I’ve come across:
Books as Apps
With apps, the author can allow the reader to change the order of the story, as well as make the story interactive. The author also gets the added benefit of having more control over how the content is managed, and having a direct relationship with the readers, according to O’Reilly Media.
Examples of immersive books as apps include Chopsticks, a novel told in pictures, words, and music, and Beside Myself, an interactive novel with bonus features such as emails, quizzes, alternate endings, and the ability to read the entire novel from different characters’ point of views.
“Sleep No More” is an immersive interactive version of the play “Hamlet.” Viewers wear masks and wander the rooms of a hotel, where every room has actors playing out different scenes from the play. Attendees can choose which rooms to see, and can also interact directly with the actors. The experience lasts as long as you want it to–you can stay for hours. Some people see the “show” multiple times, because each time is an entirely different experience.
In video games, gamers become active participants in the story. Writers of video games have to think big picture, so the story can span across multiple games, as well as sketch out very elaborate characters. SF Signal goes into more detail, with interviews with writers who create story lines for video games. StoryCode also has a list of immersive storytelling case studies.