Ever read one of those books that declared ‘YOU’ were the hero?
These books enabled the story to be affected by the reader who could choose what actions to follow at certain points of the book and, ultimately, affect the outcome of the story.
There were a number of these that grew out of the 1980s, such as Lonewolf,Tunnels and Trolls and the ever popular Fighting Fantasy series. There was also a series with the deep, and thought-invoking, name of Choose Your Own Adventure.
I remember as a teenager playing through Deathtrap Dungeon and Island of the Lizard King thinking that books could never get any more realistic.
What I didn’t know at the time was that these weren’t new phenomena. Similar books had been around since the 1970’s, such as the Tracker gamebooks which included titles such as The Black Dragon and The Seventh Star (both of which are murder-mysteries).
This use of branch- or path-finding technology hasn’t been limited to the page either.
Kinoautomat was released in Czechoslovakia in 1967 and, similar to the interactive books, allowed the audience to choose via voting buttons as to how the movie would continue at certain intervals. By all accounts, it seemed to have been well received. Even Hollywood were rumoured to be interested in taking on the format, but the technology license was deemed to be owned by the state in communist Czechoslovakia so nothing came of it.
Ok, it wasn’t perfect and the cinema had to be built to incorporate the technology. Also, it is easy to see how each decision could be ‘manufactured’ by a clever few to suit their own needs (empty chairs anyone?)
So, I was interested to read about another movie being made using a similar idea. This time, there are no voting buttons to click, the movie uses technology to ‘watch’ the audience and then makes the decision to affect the film based on the data that it receives.
At present, the technology is constrained by the hardware and, similar to Kinoautomat, it requires the audience to be wired up (with sensors as opposed to voting buttons). But, if it catches on and the technology improves, maybe it could be up to us to decide how movies end?