Storytelling V: The Audience Strikes Back - Sean Stewart, Founder and Head Writer, Fourth Wall Studios
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Storytelling V: The Audience Strikes Back - Sean Stewart, Founder and Head Writer, Fourth Wall Studios

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  • Why not use those channels to tell your story, instead of just letting them distract from your story?
  • These devices WANT to deliver content (any way you can lie is a way to tell stories)But they also WANT to give the user agency
  • Video games are all agency all the time. But of course, they have to deal with some fundamental issuesBarrier to entry – game controllersSupremacy of the game play loop – just as fiction skips the dull parts of life, games have to prioritize fun game mechanics over, say, emotional states.Fail state – death & respawn and save points, etc.There’s something weird about save points in Brokeback Mountain
  • E.g. IdolThe tyrant’s dilemma. Gibson quote….“how much cooler would MacBeth be if the audience got to choose the ending!!!”
  • Referencing games because tech is just now getting to the point where TV execs have to learn what game designers learned in 1983Video games of the 80s and branching narrativex2 content build for ½ audience
  • Hopscotch & CYAWhat % of your books are CYOA?Fundamentally unsatisfying because you are breaking suspension of disbelief in the most damaging possible way.
  • Agency inside a narrative – the fail state conundrum
  • A modest proposal: think about giving players agency – buttons to push and things to do – on the other side of the curtain.
  • Pages of the bookAudience assembles a narrative, but the narrative they assemble is fixedAlso true in parts for many of our ARG gamesProNarrative keeps shape & timingConAudience has to be convinced it’s worth putting in the work. This requires either a known IP, or a fascinating open, or both
  • Same idea, moved to mobile
  • Audience chooses how and when to interactI likeDoesn’t screw with the narrativeConConfusingWhy do I care?
  • Doesn’t suffer from the same problems as Voyeur, because it cheats:We know the narrative before we startIf you made this out of a story people didn’t know, a very small group of people would think it was AWESOME…and everyone else would go watch How I Met Your Mother on TV
  • ProIncredibly fun and socialPeople recruit their friendsConLimited gag
  • ProLines are pre-determined – audience gets to say themSocial and empoweringConEvent-based, ephemeral (twitter doesn’t archive)Works best with a known IP, althoughUndead Pride Day – Audience as Actor in a Sandbox. Great fun…but not what we normally mean by “storytelling by the benevolent tyrant”
  • Guided narrativesARG/roleplaying space, from The Beast to The SpiralThe more freedom you allow players to have, the more nimble and responsive the showrunner needs to be.ConTends to real timeexpensive
  • ProCan work with novel content if the twists and turns are sharp enoughCould even be applied to existing contentAudience participation sharpens focus on story instead of detracts from itThis is what we do when we hear stories – what comes next?ConLongs for a more complete market and reward structure, and yet completely cheat-able

Storytelling V: The Audience Strikes Back - Sean Stewart, Founder and Head Writer, Fourth Wall Studios Storytelling V: The Audience Strikes Back - Sean Stewart, Founder and Head Writer, Fourth Wall Studios Presentation Transcript

  • STORYTELLINGThe Audience Strikes Back
  • STORYTELLING - I The Bard
  • STORYTELLING - II Theatre (parallel bards)
  • STORYTELLING - III Books (scalable bards)
  • STORYTELLING - IV Movies (parallel, scalable bards)
  • STORYTELLING - V TODAY (crowd-sourced bards)
  • DISTRACTION• 77% of TV watchers have at least one other device open and active
  • BUTTONS
  • AGENCY
  • AUDIENCE CONTROLS THE NARRATIVE - 1AUDIENCE VOTES
  • AUDIENCE CONTROLS THE NARRATIVE - IIBRANCHING STORYLINES
  • AUDIENCE CONTROLS THE NARRATIVE - IIICHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
  • THE SNIPER PITCH
  • THROUGH THE FOURTH WALL
  • ASSEMBLE THE NARRATIVE - 1
  • ASSEMBLE THE NARRATIVE - 2
  • NARRATIVE AS SANDBOX - 1HBO VOYEUR
  • NARRATIVE AS SANDBOX - 2SLEEP NO MORE
  • AUDIENCE AS CHARACTER - 1TAKE THIS LOLLIPOP/FACEBOOK SCRUB
  • AUDIENCE AS ACTOR - 2SX STAR WARS
  • AUTHOR AS GAMEMASTER: ARGS
  • AUDIENCE AS COMMENTATOR - 1TWEETING THE OSCARS
  • AUDIENCE AS COMMENTOR - 2THE GAMBLERS
  • BARBARIANS AT THE GATE Harry Potter 613,707 Phantom of the Opera 10,455 Bible 3,359 Pride & Prejudice 2,174 The Odyssey 188 Book of Mormon 3