The Author’s Risk In Interactive Storytelling And Thoughts On Movies

Ah! There, I just completed a masterpiece. But oh, what’s this? It may not be seen!

When writing a story with choices, some story branches will be unexplored by the reader. And for the author, that’s a disconcerting fact, because the greatest piece of writing could be on an obscure path that few readers decide to take.

The typical story writer has just one story to tell, and anyone who reads the story knows the whole of it. An interactive storyteller, however, sacrifices this “full exposure” to the reader and says, “I’ll let you decide.” It is a true sacrifice, because any author will tell you that the main thing they want is for their story to be heard. For an interactive storyteller, not all stories will be heard.

It is the hope of this author that quality across different storylines combined with the excitement of choosing them will make up for the “hidden” storylines. And for readers who are interested in multiple playthroughs, different storylines will give them a greater understanding of the world in which they all take place.

One of my favorite things about interactive storytelling is exploring a world in greater detail. A boy runs off into the woods and finds an old treehouse, but on the other side of town, a group of thieves plot a break-in on a rich man’s home. These events could be happening at the same time, just as in real life. Only in interactive storytelling are both of these scenarios reasonable to explore.

Who is the author to tell the reader what should be explored and what should not? The reader is the one reading from interest, and theirs’ is the opinion that matters. It’s no wonder that the video gaming world has moved more towards open-ended worlds with fewer restrictions. People want choice in their entertainment, just as they do in life, and it’s our job to give it to them.

Movies

If this website succeeds the way I hope it does, it is my dream to supplant movies as the dominant form of entertainment for “going out.” Movies are passive, and yes, people like to be passive when relaxing, but there is room for a level of interactivity which retains relaxation and increases immersion. Due to financial constraints, I would most likely try an audio version of entertainment first (inside a commercially rented building in a city). It is possible to create quality audio for far less than quality video, and it retains the key advantage that reading has over other forms of entertainment of making us create the world with our imagination.

But for that to happen, one would first need a great story to tell, and that’s what I’m working on now. I’m writing The Mystery Of Paradise Island. :-)