Games and Interactive Storytelling

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IngridBoth Lina and Nedra have touched on the transformative potential of transmedia storytelling. I’ve been thinking about all the different ways this transformation can take place. Dreams of Your Life is a web experience that accompanies the British film, Dreams of A Life by Carol Morley about a 38 year old women who died in her apartment and whose body was not discovered until three years later. Dreams of Your Life is a lovely meditative experience that really makes you think about your life and about the passing of time. It’s not remotely morbid, thanks to the skillful work of the creators to keep the experience balanced between playfulness and thoughtfulness.

Thinking about this transformative potential has led me closer to the world of games and to thinking about how they have influenced interactive storytelling. There is so much interesting crossover and yet computer games have had a long time to hone their craft and get really good at what they do. We are still on a steep learning curve with transmedia and interactive documentaries so one of my resolutions for this year is to spend more time playing games and learn more about the agency and empathy produced through this kind of interaction.

However, this does not mean that I think we should all be making games.

Lina’s point about “relevance, resonance and respect” being indispensable for transmedia-for-change projects is really important I think and this applies to all transmedia projects in search of an audience, no matter what the subject matter. Often, this translates to simplifying projects to get to the essence of what they are intended to do. So, although I am really enjoying playing games and learning a great deal along the way, I am always a little bit nervous when I see some of the more complicated and expensive interactive storytelling projects people are planning, often involving some kind of game component. This goes back to my previous post about not throwing everything at a project and hoping that some of it sticks. This is an extremely expensive and resource-draining approach. We need to be agile and resourceful as we learn from other industries but create work that makes sense for our budgets and our goals.

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