The slides from my AR in Action Talk AR in Action 2017 MURRAY
and here is the video
How necessary failures will help VR designers invent new storyforms
My slides from the MIT Virtually There Conference
Video from the conference: my talk is at 6:40
In a previous post I identified some of the unsolved design issues that make VR a less than engaging storytelling platform, and questioned whether the global elite wearing headsets to look at refugees in a UN-sponsored virtual reality documentary, were experiencing an expansion of empathy, as claimed by one of the filmmakers, or simply a sense of excitement at the novelty of a new technological gadget. This interview with Gabo Arora, who c0-produced the project provides some useful context: that the VR experience was positioned as a high profile replacement for a cancelled appearance by Bono. It also offers a key detail about an important design intervention that Arora made in staging one part of the film. The glamour of VR may not last, but the design intervention — creating action that encircles the viewer — is a useful convention that is likely to become a staple of the evolving medium.
It is works better in the refugee camp (see 6:20 in), than in the Disney VR of the intro to the Lion King which disrupts the immersive effect of a meticulously choreographed, costumed, and lighted stage picture by allowing us to move around chaotically, revealing the strained and tawdry artifice behind the illusion. Perhaps this is a new convention in the making as well — unintentional here, but potentially quite powerful: to take a composed image, like the pseudo-African primitivist landscape of a Broadway musical, and expose its constructed and distorting character nature by turning into an explorable 3D space.
The folks at TED have kindly dug up for me my 1998 talk which I still stand behind and which predicts the future well, but is also still timely. It is longer than the current crop, and more spontaneous. It falls into 4 segments and it references other talks, some of which are on the TED website but most of which are not.
Here is a summary:
1.PREAMBLE: WE NEED EVERY MEDIUM TO EXPRESS OUR HUMANITY (first 5 minutes) I take issue with Julie Taymor who spoke disparagingly of screen-based experiences, and offered the rituals of Bali dancers ( invoked again in her 20** TED Talk) as the superior paradigm for art that addresses the human condition. I also take issue with John Warnock, founder of Adobe and a rare book collector who described his meticulously prepared facsimile book series as purposely avoiding interactivity, such as searching by text, which makes it much less useful. I would still consider both positions examples of a fetishism for legacy forms of representation. (first 5 minutes).
2. ELIZA IS OUR CREATION MYTH (5:00 – 17:00) I compare the amazement at the birth of film (the legend of the Ciotat Train showing) to the amazement at the birth of procedural storytelling (the legend of Eliza at MIT), as I do in Chapter 3 ofHamlet on the Holodeck, and as I have done with my students pretty much every semester for the past 20 years.
3. PROTOTYPE OF A MULTISEQUENTIAL STORY WORLD STILL AHEAD OF ITS TIME 17:00- 2500) show an MIT project I created with Freedom Baird, sponsored by IBM and based on Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy, The Norman Conquest. The TV dramas are also now on YouTube. They were meant to be seen on three successive nights in any order, and each one is complete in itself but an exit in one play is an entrance in another play. This makes a nice comparison with Mitch Horowitz’s recent work on the Netflix version of Arrested Development, as I discussed in another post. (timecode: )
4. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? (last 30 seconds) I sum up as I do in Hamlet on the Holodeck, by comparing the development of conventions of interaction with the invention of the soliloquy in Shakespeare’s time.
Other references: John Warnock is the founder of Adobe and a rare book collector. At 1998 TED he presented a facsimile book series that purposely avoids interactivity, such as searching by text, which makes it much less useful. This is a good example of what I would now call legacy media fetishism.
Brenda Laurel, feminist game designer and pioneer of interactive storytelling, whose talk on her wonderful but short-lived series Purple Moon, is on the TED site.
Marvin Minsky, one of the seminal theorists of the field of Artificial Intelligence, who has a notorious blind spot for humanistic discourse. In the corridor between sessions Ben Shneiderman and argued with him. Minsky took the position that fictional stories were a waste of time because they were not true. Ben and I were appropriately outraged.
Good or Bad Use of Legacy Conventions
For any digital artifact (e.g. a website, a digital camera, a digital cell phone), chose a particularly good or bad example of the use of one or more media conventions (e.g. headlines, screen overlays, video control icons, keyboard layout) adapted from a legacy media form (e.g. print, movies, an analog camera, a hard-wired
analog phone). Make an image that focuses on the adapted legacy conventions and justify your choice as a particularly good or bad design example. What function does the convention serve that is common across media? How does its use change when it is moved from the legacy format to the digital medium?
Television producers are increasingly turning to interactive applications to encourage fans to become more immersed in a series’ storyworld through activities that provoke the active creation of belief.
Active Creation of Belief is a design term I first used in Hamlet on the Holodeck, to contrast with Coleridge’s classic term of “suspension of disbelief” and to refute the notion that narrative pleasures are incompatible with interactivity.
A popular and very useful textbook in Interaction Design defines the field with this diagram:
As I explain in the Introduction and especially in Chapter 2, Inventing the Medium is not meant to substitute for the body of knowledge mapped above but to complement and recontextualize it, by drawing on disciplinary methods and craft practices that are absent from the HCI/Interaction Design map of the design process.
Here is how I would express it, using the same diagram: Continue reading
In a previous post I described “transmedia storytelling” as an interim term for an additive strategy of creating a consistent fictional world across multiple legacy media platforms, like TV and videogames. I expressed an expectation that we will see a unified new genre of storytelling native to the new digital medium, as I described in a previous book.
What would this new participatory story genre look like? Some of its conventions are clear, based on the way people have wanted to connect with existing story worlds and multiplayer games: It will involve an internally consistent but puzzling fictional world, an authored but participatory plot, and an encyclopedically large cast built around a small number of iconic figures. Continue reading
Every week there is a new announcement of “How transmedia storytelling is changing TV” . This week it is parallel TV and web contests on Bravo’s Top Chef.
Entertainment is a risky business, so anything that makes money or attracts attention becomes the basis of the next pitch and the next big investment. After the success of Lost in spreading fan involvement from the TV screen to the web in the form of intense plot speculation, map-making, webisodes, and games, “transmedia storytelling” — whose properties have been brilliantly observed by my old friend and colleague Henry Jenkins of USC — became the goal of many producers. I agree with Henry that the creation of a consistent story world with participatory elements that takes viewers deeper into the fictional universe is a phenomenon that is very much worth taking note of. But I am also impatient with the concept, because I don’t expect “transmedia” anything to be around very long.