Summary: Some exciting news broke this week. Netflix is partnering with renowned interactive game producer Telltale Games to bring more interactive stories to its streaming service. Video-based interactive fiction is certainly different from voice first fiction. Yet there are parallels from which we can learn; and the mediums seem to be merging.
Netflix has already pioneered user-guided branching stories in several offerings for children. Available interactive titles are: Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout, Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile.
These interactive stories are simple to use. As the Puss in Books adventure unfolds, kids get to repeatedly select between two different story paths. Each option is described by the narrator and accompanied by a visual representation.
Children don’t need to be literate to understand the choices. Once they’ve made a decision, they can indicate their choice by tapping a touchscreen or pointing and clicking with a mouse or keyboard.
Minecraft is an extremely popular crafting-style video game. The Telltales story mode game uses the Minecraft world, but adds new characters and an episodic adventure tale.
Players make choices throughout the story by selecting from dialogue trees (aka conversation trees). See our recent post about the widespread use of dialogue trees in interactive story games.
Telltale Games also announced an upcoming interactive version of the popular TV series Stranger Things.
Text-based computer adventures—such as Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork—represent the first generation of narrative-driven gaming. Video-based interactive stories, such as popular Telltale Games titles, are the latest generation. Voice first fiction is somewhere in-between.
Due to the constraints of the voice first platform, today’s story games built for voice assistants have more in common with the bare bones Colossal Cave Adventure than with Minecraft: Story Mode.
But there’s a lot we can all learn from each other. Interestingly, the mediums of text, video, and voice all seem to be merging. It makes sense for those of us in the voice first fiction space to closely watch developments in interactive narrative games on all platforms.
This past week, during the E3 gaming conference, Bethesda Softworks gaming studio released a funny video. The video showed comedian Keegan-Michael Key playing one of Bethesda’s complex interactive games on Alexa (Elder Scrolls: Skyrim).
The voice first gaming experience appears to be anything but seamless. In fact, it seems downright frustrating. The video ad looks like a spoof. Well, it turns out Bethesda really has released a version of Skyrim for Alexa, and the reviews are overwhelming positive. Go figure.
Yes, the mediums are merging!