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March 13 at 8:15am

Interactive Storyworlds: Your TO DO List

By Ted Hope

I had the pleasure of participating in the panel “New Narratives: Building An Interactive Storyworld” at SXSW this year with Karim Ahmad of ITVS & Future States, Aina Abiodun of Storycode , and Mike Knowlton of Murmur.  It was a lively panel and we packed the house.

I had a few takeaways from the panel I thought you might like me to share.  20 to be exact. First though, my guess is you’d like to know a bit more about what it was all about. Well, SX described it as this:

“The landscape of interactive documentaries is exploding, so where are all the interactive narrative films on the web? Right here. ITVS, Murmur, Storycode & Ted Hope will discuss the emerging genre of interactive narrative film, next-gen web series, & how creating immersive storyworlds can build audiences for feature films. 
We will conduct a case study on an interactive web series created by ITVS, designed by Murmur, featuring content from some of today’s top indie filmmakers. We will feature the work of Storycode, a community that conducts story hackathons to create original cross-platform fictional narratives. We will discuss the recently launched ITVS Storylab, a next-gen web series incubator. And we will discuss how these efforts may help build a more sustainable filmmaking ecosystem.”

So, without any further adieu, my takeaways — somewhat enhanced from my mini-rant at the panel:

  1. How do we sustain ourselves in an emerging world where the rules haven’t been written yet?
  2. We are experience designers, not just storytellers. Think inter-disciplinarily.
  3. Don’t mimic what the analogue word has done before.
  4. Think story world, with multiple wormholes and extensions, different discovery points & participation levels.
  5. We have not found the words or vernacular to describe the experiences yet; without them desire can not be fully fueled.
  6. Go where the people are already gathered; don’t struggle to bring them to you.
  7. It’s a world of abundance and only community + conversation move things to the top of all queues.
  8. Provide points of access for both collaboration and interaction.
  9. Plan to course correct midstream.
  10. Build community over time; don’t expect it to suddenly blossom.
  11. Use multiple narrative engines; don’t rely on just story-based drivers, but utilize experience-based ones too.
  12. Maintain a bias to action; bring the future into the present.
  13. Build for and embrace “play”.
  14. The current model of mass market and non-participatory was the disruption; this is the return to form.
  15. Don’t wait, iterate!
  16. Technology not required.
  17. Let go of the need to be the auteur; allow for collaboration.
  18. Interaction is an ingredient, not a genre.
  19. Bundle the levels of engagement and let the community chose their way.
  20. Don’t rely on a story world strategy just to refresh something that was not of community or market interest/investment to begin with.



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  1. Sasha Santiago / Mar 13 at 8:15am

    Thanks to you Ted, most of these points are already in my daily conversations.

  2. suchitab / Mar 13 at 8:15am

    So am thinking if this immediately applies to the digital world, world over because here in Mumbai, India we are still discovering crowd funding.

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