Not quite film, or games … is interactive mixed reality the future of storytelling?

Cutting-edge tech utilising VR and augmented reality is inspiring new narrative forms. And creatives at Sundance festival’s New Frontier are excited

What will storytelling look like in 20 years? Will it still be on your television? Will it printed on paper or projected in 3D? Prophesying the future is hard. But, like fortune telling with tea leaves, sometimes the future can be glimpsed in what’s here right now.

Last year, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – a nihilistic choose-your-own-adventure style film with five main endings – introduced Netflix viewers to a term that has only recently entered the TV lexicon: interactive storytelling. Following up-and-coming developer Stefan as he works tirelessly to create the most complex video game of 1984, Bandersnatch calls on the viewer to make his choices. Do you angrily douse your computer in tea or yell at your dad to blow off steam? Do you visit a therapist or shirk the session to follow a mysterious colleague? Sugar Puffs or Frosties? Bandersnatch is an example of a growing trend in storytelling space: too interactive for traditional TV, not quite interactive enough to be a video game.

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