The notion of 'interactive narrative' mentioned in Manovich's 'The New Language of Cinema' is an interesting concept that the film industry has long been experiment with. In this post, I aim to look through some of the examples dated back in the 60s and compare them to the examples that we have today.
One of the element of New Media is explained by Manovich is that is it interactive.
" New media is interactive. In contrast to traditional media where the order of presentation was fixed, the user can now interact with a media object. In the process of interaction the user can choose which elements to display or which paths to follow, thus generating a unique work. Thus the user becomes the co-author of the work." (Manovich, 2001)
An early example of an 'Interactive' Cinema can be traced back in 1967, 'Kinoautomat' directed by Raduz Cincera (Czech director)isthe first interactive film that is filmed and screened in a cinema. The film aimed to break the linear-narrative structure of a traditional film by stopping the film at 9 particular points to let the audiences decide between two options that would lead to a different storyline, hence, non-linear narrative. However, this supposedly 'interactive' cinema is flawed in a way that it breaks the fundamental rule of cinema outlined by film theorist, David Bordwell.
" The stability of syuzhet processes and stylistic configurations should not make us treat the spectator as passive material for a totalling machine." (David Bordwell 1986)
As a result, the sudden interruptions alienates its spectators instead of evolving them.
In my opinion, the concept of New Media introduced by Manovich has a lot of potential OUTSIDE the margin of traditional single stream cinema due to the fact that single stream cinema is still one of the biggest film industry that had proven its dominance by constantly producing blockbuster hits like Avatar, Harry Potter..etc. It is still the most popular type of film. Personally, I myself enjoys one large single streamed cinema more because it allows us to focus on the simplicity of the linear narrative. Instead of constantly being interrupted and coerced to make choices just so the film can row on; I much prefer when everything is laid out thoroughly by the director himself who has total control over the flow of the narrative.
Although, the concept of 'interactive' cinema doesn't favour traditional cinema, its lights shine on other forms of media, providing a richer and more abundant experience to the spectators.
"Most discussions of cinema in the computer age have focused on the possibilities of interactive narrative. It is not hard to understand why: since the majority of viewers and critics equate cinema with storytelling, computer media is understood as something which will let cinema tell its stories in a new way." Lev Manovich (1996) 'The New Language of Cinema - What is Digital Cinema?'
An current example can be drawn from world's largest video-sharing website YOUTUBE where interactive narrative is presented in short video stories. Instead of making decisions while watching intense full length movies, we can now enjoy a more casual and engaging way of entertaining by watching short videos on youtube with ability to have some control over the narration on our computer or technology devices.
Bare in mind that the use of this type of 'interactive narration' may potentially decontextualise the character of 'interactive video' making it more like a 'game' rather than a 'video'. By giving us the golden key to have the opportunities to participate in the narrative, we as speculator became the participant in the story that helps to drive the narrative. Consequently, we no longer are 'watching' a video but 'participating' on the hero's quest to achieve a particular goal in the narrative. Thus, the boundary that separate between a typical RPG games and an interactive video clip become increasingly ambiguous. However, both are good form of entertainment that 'interact' and 'engage' us.
Zombie Interactive Video Zombie RPG
Perhaps a hybrid of both interactive film and gaming in the future will be EPIC!!!
Manovich, L, 2001, The Language of New Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, America
Bordwell, D, 1986, Narrational Principles and Procedures in Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader.
Manovich, L, 1996, 'What is Digital Cinema?' Massachusetts Institute of Technology, America