There is a sort of provocative, if not especially deep, post over on AdAge about the state of storytelling on the internet.
The author believes the web has failed as a storytelling platform, although he doesn’t do much to back it up. He does, however have some thoughts on the future:
“So where are we now? We’re at a fascinating point in history where a bold group of content creators, advertisers and digital artists are seeking the Holy Grail of online content: the ability to fund and create large-scale stories that attract and engage large audiences.
Alternate Reality Games: Otherwise known as ARGs, these have become very popular within the past few years. An ARG is a story that draws the audience in through mystery and intrigue and invites them to participate in unearthing clues to solve the puzzle. These ARGs have been sponsored by brands ranging from Audi to McDonald’s, along with major movie studios and TV networks. The results have been impressive, but to date the genre has struggled to reach true mainstream appeal because much of the viewing experience requires investing dozens of hours of time.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games: Often abbreviated as MMORPGs, these include games like “World of Warcraft.” Like ARGs, these games tell stories in a user-driven, first-person manner and are incredibly compelling.
Transmedia Content: This is perhaps the most exciting of all. Transmedia storytelling refers to stories that are told across a broad array of media. A great example is the hit TV show “Heroes,” which in addition to its TV broadcast has created as many as 200 websites, most of which allow heavy fan participation and collectively reveal and advance storylines that may not appear in broadcast. The results have been staggering. The web experiences have delivered viewership figures rivaling or in some cases exceeding those on television.”
That’s a good summary of the some of the ways that creative people are using the unique nature of the web to tell a more involved kind of story. I think there will be room for these and more traditional episodic stories on the web.
While these interactive concepts are enticing and shiny they will only be attractive to that portion of the population looking for more involved experiences. A lot of times we just want to sit and watch – as long as the story is a good one, there’s nothing wrong with that.
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