What's the latest thing in storytelling? It has to be interactivity, right?
Well, maybe not. Professor of Literature Jonathan Gottschall wrote a three-part series about stories for fastcreate.com, and here's part of what he says about this in part 3:
"Here’s the problem with interactivity: There’s no evidence people actually want it in their stories. No one watches Mad Men or reads Gone Girl yearning for control of the story as it unfolds. Interaction is precisely what most of us don’t want during story time."
He supports this idea by referring to James Joyce's Finnegans Wake which is hailed as a masterpiece, a breakthrough in storytelling--which nobody actually reads. [Before I corrected this post, I mistakenly referred to him citing Ulysses, which is the book I think relatively few people read all the way through--but maybe that's true only of people like me, with short attention spans, as one commenter points out. How about you?]
I've always thought that having the audience vote on what turn a story should take or how it should end is doomed to disappoint about half the voters (assuming there's rougly a 50-50 split).
It can be interesting to explore characters more fully--for example, by going to the blog of a fictional character in something you're reading--but that's not really interactivity.
Frankly, I'm glad to hear the professor's take on this. Games are games and stories are stories. While elements of each can enrich the other, to me a story is special because it takes me somewhere and when I'm the reader I don't want to drive the bus, I want to sit back and enjoy the journey.
ps: In the original post I also copied Gottschall's mistake of adding an apostrophe--it's actually Finnegans Wake, not Finnegan's Wake.
If you think you might want to read Finnegans Wake, here's the first paragraph to get you started:
"riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passen-core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer’s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County’s gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all’s fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface."
You can read or download the entire book at http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/joyce/james/j8f/index.html