Storytelling comes in all sorts of forms, and often there’s overlap between mediums. Take games, for example. Electric Lit shared a story about launching a video game at a bookstore. In 2019, The Strand bookstore in New York had a “live playthrough” to demonstrate Eliza, a game “about artificial intelligence, mental health, and the gig economy, written and directed by Matthew Seiji Burns and released by indie game developer Zachtronics.”
Because it’s a game, there’s an element of interactivity and making choices. And that’s something that comes up in many forms of storytelling, even audio only stories such as podcasting. Apparently, the company Backtracks recently released a way for storytellers to create interactive stories where listeners can “choose their own adventure” simply by nodding.
Then there are really immersive games, like VR games. MIT Technology Review wrote a piece about Agence, “a short interactive VR film from Toronto-based studio Transitional Forms and the National Film Board of Canada” that “uses reinforcement learning to control its animated characters.” There are AI characters, and players can choose to sit back and watch how things unfold, or take part in the story.
Storytellers can apply gamification techniques to all sorts of things. When done right, it can be a satisfying and even addicting experience. Coursera has a course from University of Pennsylvania that teaches people how these techniques work.
For some fun food for thought, and to see the impact of games (and game studios) in the last decade, Kotaku has a list of the decade in five games (2010 until 2020). The games included on the list are Minecraft, where players could purchase and start playing a game while it was still being worked on; Mass Effect 3, which had some trouble wrapping up the trilogy in a way that satisfied players who were used to having so many choices in the game; and Depression Quest, a narrative choose your own adventure game. The article goes into much more depth about what went into making the games, what happened after, and how it fits into our culture.
Editor’s note: This was originally published March 2021.