Interactive and Digital Forms of Storytelling
By: Jilian Whitehead
Most of the time when we think of writing, we think of prose or poetry, but there are so many other ways to be creative and tell a story. From writing dialogue in a video game to simulating texts between friends, the realm of digital storytelling is full of possibilities. Technology allows stories to be told in a nonlinear way and often encourages readers to participate in the story rather than being a passive observer. Publishing digitally also gives the author a lot more freedom and allows their audience to access their work from anywhere. Today, I am going to go through several types of digital and/or interactive forms of storytelling that have appeared because of technology.
One of the most obvious ways storytelling has changed is in video games. Role-playing games often feature abundant character customization, the ability to change how the story progresses, and a rich environment. This type of storytelling is also different because while there generally is an overarching plot, the player can also do side quests, which may not follow the traditional story arc. (There are also non-digital role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons that require a lot of story mastery if you’re the Dungeon Master.)
Interactive novels are most similar to choose-your-own-adventure stories with branching storylines and a variety of endings. These can be purely text-based or fall under the visual novel category, a type which was invented in Japan and features pictures of the characters, music, and even voice acting. There’s also hypertext fiction, which allows the reader to explore the story through links. It never quite made it big, but it was just one of many ways that people began to realize how the internet could benefit alternative forms of storytelling.
Because the internet makes publishing things so easily, many websites now host hundreds of digital stories, such as Wattpad, fanfiction sites, or the South Korean Webtoons which are full-color comics/graphic novels that are easy to scroll through on your phone and sometimes even have music and sound effects.
There are, of course, more types than just these few, such as the cell phone novel, which aims to tell a story through texts, games that simulate a chat room, or even the Button Poetry on YouTube. From allowing more and more people to share their work to letting the reader interact with the content, I would say technology should definitely receive our thanks for all it’s done for storytelling!