Last week, I clued you all into Spotlight Stories, Google’s interactive short films for mobile devices. This week, a NYTimes.com article, “Text Games in a New Era of Stories,” describes another new innovation in the area of digital storytelling: interactive fiction. This week, a NYTimes.com article, “Text Games in a New Era of Stories,” describes another new innovation in the area of digital storytelling: interactive fiction.
Author Chris Suellentrop discusses a new iPad story titled, “Blood & Laurels.” Written by interactive fiction author Emily Short, the story was written using software called Versu, which was designed by Short and Richard Evans who worked on artificial intelligence of games such as Black & White and The Sims 3. Versu is an engine for telling interactive stories in which, according to Versu.com, “Every person in a Versu story is modeled with AI that gives them unique personality traits and inclinations. They remember how the player has treated them. They can become your friend, your lover, your mentor, your worst enemy.”
The iTunes purchase page for Blood & Laurels describes the story as, “the eight hundred and twenty first year of the city of Rome, a year of bad omens and unrest under a bloodthirsty Emperor.” And interestingly enough, “Blood & Laurels” is categorized under “Games” in iTunes.
Suellentrop adds, “At almost anytime in Blood & Laurels, the reader – or it is player? – can press the “Act Now” button to direct the main character to do something or press “More” to keep reading.”
He continues that “Blood & Laurels,” however, made him feel, “more like an improviser than a reader,” as the story offers a number of menu options the reader can choose for a character. The options included talking to another character, pretending nothing happened, eating and more.
In his conclusion, however, Suellentrop states that, while Short is a good writer, those who simply want to read a story should just buy a regular book. But he does add, “What Blood & Laurels offers is one of those quintessential video game moments, a first glimpse at something on the horizon,” which is something that as new platforms for digital storytelling emerge cannot be denied.
But what might be most intriguing from the NYTimes.com article is the discussion of why Short decided to write interactive fiction rather than conventional stories. She says, “I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t write multiple versions of the same scene.” Short wants the reader to have a more conversational relationship with her story.
As a storyteller, what do you think about an interactive piece of fiction? Do you ever feel the need to tell multiple versions of the same scene in a story? If so, does interactive fiction seem like a way to accomplish that?
Suellentrop, C. (2014). Text games in a new era of stories. Retrieved, 2014, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/07/arts/video-games/text-games-in-a-new-era-of-stories.html?_r=1