In creating my interactive story I wanted to allow the audience to do more than just simply interact with certain elements of a video and actually let them influence the narrative itself. I was inspired to use this style by children’s gamebooks, such as the Give yourself Goosebumps or the Fighting Fantasy series’, books which tell a second person perspective to make the reader a character in the story and give the reader choices to make which will influence how the narrative plays out. To recreate this style in video form I used Youtube videos with annotations above text in the video, when these annotations are clicked they will link the watcher to different videos depending on the choice they make.
Stylistically I was inspired by Derek Jarman’s 1992 avant-garde film Blue, which visually comprised only of a saturated blue screen for the entirety of the film with the narrative being told through the audio. For this reason I choose to focus on the auditory elements of the story, however in the first video I did use bold text in capitals in places to highlight important words where the effects I applied might have made it difficult to the understand to the listener. I also used this text to grab the viewers attention with directions, for example the first piece of text flashes, directing the viewer to put on their headphones, as being able to clearly understand the audio in this story is key.
Narratively I chose to focus on the theme of resistance, I wanted the first choice to view makes to either be to resist or comply to instruction, the choice drastically effecting the viewer’s experience of the narrative. I emphasised the authoritarian nature of the instruction, reinforcing the idea of resistance of compliance, by using effects to give the instruction a robotic voice, and using repetition, twice stating “Do not remove the connection”. I emphasised the instruction too with flashing on-screen text, in bold, capital letters in a red colour, to give the sense of an alarm/siren almost. I also addressed the audience with a generic number “Participant JB3492” to make the instruction impersonal and retain the idea that the character the audience plays has no identity of their own, as well as suggesting the scale of the system in the story to have as least around 3500 participants.
I expected most people would choose to resist instruction initially, however there is no “correct” choice. I purposely created each path in a way that whatever choice you make you gain certain information you do not from the others, but also that no one path gives a full understanding of the story, encouraging viewers to click the link and “return to the start” where they can explore a new path. For the narrative content I was inspired by sci-fi genre films, such as The Matrix, in that I focused on a sci-fi concept of a machine/system in a future world that connects the minds of thousands, but rather than those minds being placed into a virtual world they are able to access the memories and thoughts of each other, creating a collective consciousness and destroying the sense of individuality.
I also drew elements from some psychedelic media in the way this is portrayed, using voices with heavy reverberation effects and using metaphors to portray the system, portraying it as a giant tree with each of the connected participants representing fruit on it’s branches.
Andrew Sheller is a Media Production student at Coventry University. You can see more content from Andrew at their Facebook page through this link.