Friday, May 9, 2014

The Future of Storytelling

On a recent series of flights across the country I burned through Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan" series: three Steampunk-style alt-history novels. 

One fundamental premise of strategic foresight is that any area of endeavor is characterized by a "dominant technology" that fuels innovation. In Leviathan's world, WWI is a clash between a culture who's hegemony is built on mechanical invention (Germany), and one developed through genetic manipulation of species (Britain). 

I recommend the novels in their own right, as an exploration of how these technologies play out in a fictional past (and when it comes to genomics, still may, in the future). Now Leviathan and its world has been adopted by Intel Labs and the USC School of Cinematic Arts World Building Media Lab. Their question, what happens when you mash together the worlds of film making and games design? How does a platform premised on complete control of visual content marry with one based on audience interaction? How can augmented reality open a richly imagined world, like that created by Westerfeld, to create "new story containers." 

Your Futurist Friday assignment: watch the video [7 min], and ask yourself:

  • How do you feel about the prospect of an augmented reality game that let you enter the world of one of your favorite novels? Would it supplement your experience of reading, or supplant your own visualization of the narrative?
  • What opportunities does this provide for new kinds of narrative? For example, could a "reader" can wander around encountering pieces of the action out of any established sequence (like PunchDrunk's immersive theater''s adaptation of Macbeth as "Sleep No More.") 
  • Do you think immersive fiction like this might turn into an established genre of its own right, or is it a fad?
And just enjoy the cool dirigible whale. 

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