Interactive narrative. Multi-stranded narrative. Non-linear narrative. Parallel narrative. Immersive narrative. Trans, Cross and Multi-platform narrative. There’s a whole shit load of narrative buzzwords going around right now and much discussion about their relative uses and abuses. Moreover, when such descriptive terms acquire ‘buzzword’ status they are too readily associated with ‘newness’ and something conjured into being by new technologies. The truth is most all of these terms above have a much longer history, generally predating any digital technologies we might otherwise associate them with. The contemporary nomenclature is most often just a new badge to unify long standing ideas or adapt those ideas to new mechanics.
In discussing interactive and non-linear narrative in the past I have often been contemptuous of the buzzword laden hyperbole that too often surrounds the discussion and the baby-out-with-the-bathwater thinking around new-media narrative forms. Indeed the verbose assertions of ‘all new’, ‘totally different’ and the subtextual idea that such story experiences are ‘nothing like anything that has gone before’ are not only bogus, but distinctly unhelpful to either the artform or artists seeking to engage with these artforms.
What is required in this brave new world is some clear air with a better signal-to-noise ratio, Less obsession with the ‘shiny newness’ of interactivity and a more considered understanding of dramatic principles, role-play, motivations, obstacles and reward.
It’s in this light that I’ll be chairing a discussion panel at the Sydney Film Festival on the topic of Interactive Storytelling: the challenge of things to come. With a diverse panel of guests that includes major broadcasters, independent producers, writers, critics, funding bodies and documentary filmmakers we’ll explore some of the challenges, opportunities and underlying principles of interactive narrative.
The official program for the event, which is part of the Expert Talks series staged at the Sydney Film Festival Hub, reads like this…
New digital technologies are transforming the way content producers are writing, producing and delivering new work, opening up exciting opportunities for interactive storytelling. Discover how Australian artists, documentary makers and producers are harnessing these new possibilities to create innovative transmedia stories and interactive web documentaries. Get the lowdown on the latest trends and sneak a peek at some truly groundbreaking work.
The panel is chaired by Mike Jones, AFTRS screen studies lecturer and Head of Story at Portal Entertainment.
Julia Scott-Stevenson, writer, documentary programmer and filmmaker
Justin Wight, 2012 Rasmussen Award winner for Double Happy vs. The Infinite Sadness
Nick Doherty, Managing Editor, SBS Online
Friday 15 June, 7-8.30pm
Sydney Film Festival Hub @ Lower Town Hall
483 George Street (enter on Druitt Street)
The event will also see a presentation from Ruth Harley of Screen Australia as they announce the successful recipients of development money fro the new All Media Fund for interactive and multi-platform screen media.
This Sydney Film Festival Hub event is just one of a series of public appearance i’ll be making over the coming few months discussing such topics as Immersion, Interactivity, Episodic Narrative, WebSeries and Transmedia. I’ll be blogging soon about these appearances I’m making in Australia and overseas in case you happen to be in the neighbourhood.
Below are some of the wide ranging ramblings Ive had in recent years on intercative and transmedia.