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Branching narratives

Choose your own story

If, like me,  you grew up in the 1980s, chances are you would have loved reading  Choose Your Own Adventure books.

choose-your-own-adventure

You were right in the centre of the story – and actions you made had a direct impact on the narrative. There were many possible endings – many of them fatal! But eventually, you’d learn the correct path through the story. You can learn a lot risk-taking in a completely safe environment.

Branching narratives are not only great for storytelling; they are great for learning too.

We are all natural storytellers. If the learner is asked to take decisions rather than passively watching or reading a narrative, they are more likely to be engaged and thus absorb the information.

A branching narrative can be a really useful learning tool for soft skills where there are no clear right and wrong answers. But producing branching narratives can be technically challenging and costly.

The BBC Academy used Twine to produce a interactive pilot Choose your Own BBC Career.

Below are some more examples of branching narratives.

Take the Knife

Take the Knife demonstrates one way of getting around the technical issues around video narrative by using You Tube– but the video still has to be produced many different ways so the cost factor could still remain.

You can see why this was made a branching rather than linear narrative. The decisions are the users to make. It shows rather than tells. The user is an active participant taking responsibility for their actions rather than a passive observer.

Connect with Harj Kamal

This was made by Kinection.  It takes a very sensitive subject and plunges the user directly into a warzone. The choices they make will determine whether the mission is a success or not. They have to decide themselves what will be the best way to connect with Harj Kamal.

Poetry Prescription

If you’re feeling a bit blue and you don’t know what to do…take a poetry prescription and find words just right for you…

Ahem. I am no poet laureate…but this commission for the Open University will help you find  the right poem for your mood. It sits on the  Open Learn platform – so after discovering your Poetry Prescription, you are in an ideal place for deeper learning on the subject.  This project was developed by Chromatrope.

And…branching narratives can teach people what your company is all about

US Interactive marketing company Jellyvision use a branching narrative technique to illustrate what their company is all about. Rather than just tell you straight off, they ask you to interact so you’re engaging with the company from the outset. This  gives you much more of a sense of what the company is all about. Personally, I had the impression the company was  fresh, slightly cheeky and creative.