Choose, or the cat gets it: Interactive storytelling arrives on Netflix

20 Jun 20177 Shares

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Could the new interactive storytelling genre on Netflix spark a creative movement? Image: Netflix

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Netflix viewers can now get creative and take control of the stories they watch.

Streaming powerhouse Netflix has launched a new genre called interactive storytelling that lets viewers decide what happens next in the shows they are watching.

The new ‘branching’ genre is the result of the intertwining of the company’s engineers in Silicon Valley with Hollywood’s most creative minds.

‘The children’s programming space was a natural place for us to start since kids are eager to ‘play’ with their favourite characters and already inclined to tap, touch and swipe at screens’
– CARLA ENGELBRECHT FISHER

The new non-linear storytelling format kicks off with two new shows, including Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile.

The birth of a new genre

Viewers will be in control as the story unfolds, and make choices as to how the story develops.

“Being an internet-based company enables us to innovate new formats, deliver at scale to millions of members all over the world on multiple device types and, most importantly, learn from it,” explained Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, director of product innovation at Netflix.

“Recently, we’ve been spending a lot of time with these two beloved and adventurous characters, Puss in Boots and Buddy Thunderstruck. We’ve also spent a lot of time with their equally intrepid creators: DreamWorks Animation Television, American Greetings Entertainment and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.

“While the mantra of our collaborations has been, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if … ?’, the objective has been to bring something completely new to Netflix that pushes the boundaries of storytelling and the way you engage with it.”

Engelbrecht Fisher said that Netflix has done extensive research, speaking to kids and parents about what storylines would work. She hinted that it could be the start of a whole movement that could extend beyond kids’ programming.

“The children’s programming space was a natural place for us to start since kids are eager to ‘play’ with their favourite characters and already inclined to tap, touch and swipe at screens.

“They also talk to their screens, as though the characters can hear them. Now, that conversation can be two-way. It’s really about finding the right stories – and storytellers – that can tell these complex narratives and bring them to life in a compelling way.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com