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A Case for Multimedia Storytelling

25 June 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Interactive multimedia storytelling is probably older than recorded human history itself. The famous cave paintings of Lascaux, for example, date from about 17,000 years ago. While we do not know their exact purpose, one can easily imagine a narrator or shaman using them to describe a successful hunt or enact a ritual. Holding a torch, the narrator walks along the walls, recounting a sequence of events, in a kind of early form of cinema.

. . . .

Today, we have interactive digital narratives, also known as video games. This relatively new form of interactive media has evolved into a mature form for the presentation of narrative, and may well represent a possible future for storytelling.

Why should this be interesting or relevant to book publishers? Because it is worth knowing what readers are into these days. According to a 2015 Pew internet study, about half of all American adults play video games: 50% of men and 48% of women play them, and about 10% consider themselves to be gamers. Mary Meeker’s highly regarded “Internet Trends 2017” report describes video games as more engaging than popular forms of social media such as Facebook and Instagram, driving an increase in deep engagement in “an era of perceived disengagement.”

. . . .

The first thing to know is that digital interactive storytelling has matured in recent years. The depth and quality of the writing and emotional experience in some games rivals the best literary narratives—and some are even drawn from them. The international hit Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, is based on a series of novels by Polish novelist Adrzej Sapkowski, adapted for the game medium by developer CD Projekt Red’s Jakub Szamalek.

Second, despite book publishers’ fears that mobile apps are a form of digital distraction, taking readers away from books, interactive digital media can actually drive readers toward text-based storytelling. Twine, for example, bridges the gap between interactive fiction and gaming; it’s an open-source software tool that allows users without programming expertise to create and publish interactive stories. Twine has become so popular that it has begun to be noticed by book publishers. In many ways, it is the digital offspring of the popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series.

Because Twine is free and does not require coding skills, it has become a platform for writers who want to try their hands at interactive fiction. Many Twine games are composed entirely of text. Some are also visual, but in many cases, a branching narrative composed of text is the final published product. As this shows, gamers are open to and interested in text stories.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Disruptive Innovation, Enhanced Ebooks

3 Comments to “A Case for Multimedia Storytelling”

  1. Al the Great and Powerful

    Sounds like they invented HyperCard books again…

  2. I’m mystified why a “case” needs to be made for something like this, either “pro-” or “con-.” If they find a market and people are willing to pay for them, great. If not, well, not.

    On a personal note, I can’t imagine this kind of thing appealing to me, but that’s me. To each their own and all that.

    Also, this, which left me scratching my head:

    The international hit Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, is based on a series of novels by Polish novelist Adrzej Sapkowski, adapted for the game medium by developer CD Projekt Red’s Jakub Szamalek.

    Sapkowski has never played any of the Witcher games, isn’t much of a fan of video games and even claims they’ve probably hurt the sale of the Witcher novels.See here. Edit to add: Strong language at the link, in the headline, in big type.In short, a very odd example to bring up in this context, at least from where I’m sitting.

  3. Actual title should be something like:

    We are still trying very hard to raise the bar for what we want to claim is ‘publishing’ so writers have to use publishers rather than rolling their own.

    Won’t someone think of the publishers?

    (In the adapt or die game these guys are still hoping to somehow change the rules.)

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