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Drama 2.0: towards a new interactive narration form

Author: Brice Le Blévennec

“Once upon a time…” For centuries on end, storytelling hasn’t changed by one comma. The rules of the game were unchanging and intangible: one needed unity of time, space and action. Today, under the pressure of digital media, these fundamental principles of storytelling are being shattered.

Brice Le Blevennec, CVO

This tendency is called transmedia storytelling, which means you combine old and new media to create new ways of storytelling. Historically speaking, one of the first (successful) attempts in this genre was the 1999 film ‘The Blair Witch Project’, which used several interactive channels to create a multitude of rumours and urban legends before the film made it to the box office. The result: the movie was a worldwide bestseller, despite its limited budget. And even today, this schoolbook example of buzz is a source of inspiration in the promotion of Hollywood blockbusters. Just look at the marketing campaign for the release of Roland Emmerich’s ‘2012’. Today, we talk of Drama 2.0.

Next to that, another approach of storytelling came about with the Alternate Reality Games. These serious games tell a story in which the comedians are no other than the gamers themselves. They have to find clues, solve mysteries, track down the culprits, … And all is done within a grand natural setting in which the new media enable them to find all the pieces of the jigsaw. In Belgium, the company La Mosca offers companies the possibility of doing teambuilding exercises via an action game that is both urban and technological. On their site, it reads: “Leave your screen behind and Get a life! Invite your friends for a game full of action, excitement and strategy. Go to the city and brace yourself for The Target, a chase game in which three police teams hunt an escaped gangster. Their weapons: a mobile phone and a GPS.”

Today’s latest development is Augmented Reality. Wikipedia defines the concept as a direct or indirect vision of a physical environment in which some elements mix with computer-generated imagery. In other words, reality is enriched with digital data to create a new perception of the objects that surround the user. The best current illustration is the Layar application that transforms an iPhone 3GS into a navigator with augmented reality. It adds information layers upon the image captured by the video camera.

Together, these emerging phenomena open a new and exciting road for editors, writers and programmers in television. Now, they can use fabulous tools to invent new formats in which the viewer becomes an integral part of the production. The viewer can even influence the course of events. It is indeed not a coincidence that the MEDIA programme by the European Commission allocates part of its subsidies to innovating cinematographic projects that explore the unseen possibilities of interaction with the audience.

Brands discover an awesome new field of action in which to express the qualities and values of their products. The principle of a brand story, which developed over the last years, will finally come of age and generate a new type of relationship with the consumer. It is in any case one of the directions we plan to explore at Emakina. History has just begun…

Brice Le Blévennec

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