So this assignment was a bit more challenging than our usual Daily Creates and Weekly Assignments. It required a lot more thought, understanding, and effort. While I did manage to complete all the readings and videos, I had trouble understanding it all.
So, here’s my thoughts on it all and how I brought it all together.
Let’s start simple. I read “I Link, Therefore I am,” and the message I got from it was that while hypertext, interactive stories have made waves in terms of innovation in the storytelling world, but it hasn’t made a big enough wave to make a huge change in how we tell stories. There have been tons of examples of interactive stories throughout time (Telltale Games, Gone Home, Life is Strange etc.), but they’ve all been considered false starts. Why is this?
Well, Netflix’s, Bandersnatch, was a super successful start, but I’m not sure if all that came before are actually “false starts.” Like said in the article, innovation can’t happen overnight. A new medium of story telling will gradually happen. What came before Bandersnatch were stories discovering the in’s and out’s of interactive stories, eventually paving way for the next big thing. Let’s be honest though, I’ve played a lot of interactive games, and they all seem relatively successful. Maybe not in terms of globally, but Telltale Games, Life is Strange, and Gone Home, all have a huge following.
But let’s move on to the next bit. Shape of Stories told use about the basic structures of stories that seem to receive the most praise. The first is where the character starts off average, nothing right or wrong happening. Life seemingly gets better even. Then, a problem arises that causes tension, stress, etc. From there, we get a resolution to the issue. Simple enough. The next structure is relatively similar. A character starts of a bit above average, life is going well for them, but then an issue is brought up that causes a downfall, which will be resolved as usual. The last story structure is different, but seems to be the most popular. It’s a Rags-to-Riches, classic Cinderella story. The central character starts off really down in the dumps, for lack of a better term, but slowly progresses and grows from there. Like always, a problem arises and their situation returns to far below average, but like always returns to infinite happiness.
I finally reached the last video, The Machine is Us/ing Us, where they talked about how digital storytelling changed the game for how we, well, tell stories. It allows for more creativity, more freedom, and less restriction. When writing a paper book, you are limited to the paper it’s on. However, digitally, you can format the layout any way you want, link within your story, link to other stories and so on. The possibilities seem almost endless. But what does this all mean?
To really pull this all together, I re-watched one of my favorite movies, Footloose. I started thinking about what makes a good story and why interactive stories aren’t doing as well as hoped and, for me, having so many choices is overwhelming sometimes. Watching Footloose and thinking about some of the issues that were dealt with, they were all ones with difficult choices. I already have to make enough choices in my everyday life, I don’t want to do that in my time for fun. It may be different if the story isn’t one that is close to your everyday life.
The structure of Footloose is kind of like the Rags-to-Riches storyline that Vonnegut suggested was the most successful. Which makes sense. Our country is obsessed with that kind of story. Andrew Carnegie was the earliest, most classic example of that. Mark Zuckerburg is another, more modern example of this. The idea that anyone could amount to greatness. Footloose achieved this storyline. The story has a depressing beginning. Ren’s mother had just passed and that’s why he’s moving in with his aunt and uncle. Ariel’s brother had just died from a car accident and as a result dancing is outlawed. Things get mildly better slowly, but then fall way back down, before the final “hoorah,” moment happens.
What makes a good story is making it relatable. Not the situations necessarily (dragons, wizarding school, or outerspace all seem so fun). but the idea of an everyday person could rise up out of bad situations. Whether that be an orphaned boy, a woman who just lost her brother, or someone who just hasn’t had the best of luck. We like stories that help us imagine a better, more fascinating life. It tells us that the times we lived in, has always viewed itself as an underdog and that underdog deserves to rise to the occasion.
That’s what I got out of all this, and let me tell ya, I’m beat. This was took a lot of thought. We all deserve a really good puppy photo this time around.