Netflix has revealed that it will introduce interactive TV specials to allow viewers to choose their own ending for some specials within series 5 of Black Mirror.
The streaming service has already experimented with choose-your-own-adventure animated kids programme Puss in Book.
The costs related to producing multiple endings are obviously greater than a linear story with just one conclusion. However, Netflix are banking on video gaming millennials responding well to a more interactive TV experience.
The company is reported to be closing more deals for interactive series. Two of these projects are adaptations of video games.
The extent of the interactivity remains to be seen. Audiences are already used to voting in shows like X Factor and Love Island. However, increasing access to high-speed internet means that viewers may be able to engage more fully with the storyline of a TV show.
Interactive storytelling at visitor attractions
Of course choose-your-own-ending stories are nothing new.
Choose Your Own Adventure books were first published in 1979. The children’s gamebook series allowed readers to navigate their way through a story.
This kind of decision tree storytelling is behind the more creative iconic role playing game Dungeons and Dragons, which has influenced the development of MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games).
There are already media based attractions that enable guests to have a different adventure each time they ride. Six Flags Galactic Attack VR coaster has four different endings depending which drone bay riders choose to dock in, with a hard-to-access one for the best pilots. New technology like Alterface’s NOMAD wireless wands, Triotech’s VR mazes and Zero Latency’s free roam multiplayer VR promise to further blur the line between gaming and LBE.
There are creative questions around whether giving more control to audiences will result in poorer stories. Should we trust writers to craft the best story possible for us?
But in a world where visitors are looking for unique, personalised experiences, and visitor attractions need to encourage repeat visits, interactive storytelling will continue to be an interesting trend.