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Narrative… Text… What Next?

The Oxford Publishers Society (OPuS) recently held an event looking at Transmedia publishing in a Brave New World, and Charly (one of the committee members) has once again very kindly done a little post-game analysis for those of us who couldn’t go. Over to her!
Charly Ford

November’s OPuS event, Narrative… Text… What Next? Transmedia publishing in a Brave New World, showcased interesting and dynamic approaches to storytelling.

First up was White October, held in high esteem for the award-winning online tool Lambeth Library Challenge (winner of a Nominet Internet Award 2013). Dave Fletcher entertained and informed the audience by showing us the interactive documentary Pine Point, online feature Snow Fall (available via The New York Times website) and an extraordinary Arcade Fire music video. All of these were not only fascinating but also gave an insight into creative ways in which technology can be harnessed to give the consumer an interesting experience with content.

Graham Nelson and Emily Short gave a presentation on interactive fiction – fiction that the reader is able to control to some degree. We enjoyed a live demo of the ‘Inform’ system and gained an insight into the Versu ‘living stories’ that are being developed by Linden Lab. It was interesting to see a digital playing-out of the classic ‘choose your own’ concept and it certainly gave the audience food for thought.

Richard Fine’s talk focussed on video games. A game developer himself, Richard showed us a sneak preview of his current project Infection – last rites and explained the idea of ‘Ludonarrative dissonance’ – essentially a concept that means a video game player won’t always act within the story that the game wants to tell. This is definitely worth further investigating for anyone interested in the gamification of content.

Last, but not least, were Jen Porter and Kirk Bowe from BeyondTheStory (only hours before their presentation at the Futurebook conference in London). BeyondTheStory focuses on dynamic storytelling experiences and we were given a preview of their work with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and heard about the success of their The Almighty Johnsons companion app. Anyone involved in digital publishing should keep their eyes peeled on Porter and Bowe’s work – it will be interesting to see the ways in which publishers will continue harnessing technology to maximise their content.

So, what indeed is next for publishing? We can’t be entirely sure but I’m confident that all of these ideas, and other influences from surrounding creative industries, will play a significant role in shaping the next stage of our industry’s progress.

A big thank you to Charly for taking the time to write this post. I highly recommend you sign up to receive the OPuS newsletter and we’ll hopefully see you at future events!

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