A scary amount of agency

I think anyone who has ever watched a scary movie can relate to feeling frustrated by the decisions that the protagonist makes. What if you had direct communication with the main character and tell them what to do? In 2010 13th Street, the action and suspense channel in Germany, claimed to have “the first interactive horror movie in theaters”. So how did they do it? Basically when people buy their tickets they submit their mobile cell phone number to a database. The main character from the film calls a number from the list asking for help and direction as to what she should do. Through voice recognition software, the audience member’s response gets turned into a command and the system plays the corresponding scene.

This was a nontraditional way to engage the audience. As a moviegoer myself I found feel that this would be an effective tactic to immerse their audiences in the storyline and make them feel connected to the fate of the protagonist(s). It gives the audience member the opportunity to be the hero and makes them feel a sense of agency over how the story unfolds. Finally, it more closely resembles the non-linear storytelling and way of life that technology brings to us today.

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However, I also caught myself asking other questions. Although all audiences can yell out suggestions, only the owner of the phone can make the decision. This could limit the experience for people who were not chosen as the caller. Also, the audience member with the phone could get frustrated if he/she consistently makes the wrong decisions and may leave the movie aggravated. In the event that the audience makes the right decisions and avoids harm to the protagonist, the plot could become uneventful. The other thing to consider is that although audience members tell the protagonist what to do, the character gives them a selection to choose from. This already limits the options that audience members have.

So perhaps the answer to my questions would be something more like a video game or virtual reality software. Regardless, the over arching question that I took away from watching this trailer is who is and should be in control of the storyline?

References

aixvox. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aixvox.com/en/last-call-speechrecognition-in-cinemas/

Powerflasher. (Photographer). (2010, March 2). 13TH STREE,

Last Call – The first interactive Movie (Software by

Powerflasher) [Web Video]. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe9CiKnrS1w

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