Netflix yesterday added a new episode- Bandersnatch to one of my favorite shows called, Black Mirror.
Black Mirror is a science fiction show that talks about the dark side of technology, and its consequences. If you haven’t already watched its existing 3 seasons, I highly recommend this show.
Bandersnatch, new episode to Black Mirror series released on 28th December is a first of its kind, in that, you can (yes, you the viewer) can interactive with the story and make choices for the character(s) and change the story line depending on your (yes, you again) choices and decisions.
Netflix explains about its interactive content,
Interactive content is a fun new way to experience Netflix. In each interactive title, you can make choices for the characters, shaping the story as you go! Each choice leads to a different adventure, so you can watch again and again, and see a new story each time.
I haven’t finished watching this standalone episode yet. But Bandersnatch is set in 1984 and revolves around a programmer called Stefan (enacted by the same guy who appeared to be lead character in Dunkirk – Fion Whitehead). Stefan is struggling to finish a video game which has got a lot of user based choices.
As you watch the show, and in scenes where the character(s) needs to make a choice between say (which cereal to eat)? This type of decision is thrown at the viewer and the viewer with the remote control selects their choice and the character in the show chooses that too. For example, I chose Frosties cereal for Stefan, hence Stefan in the story told his dad, Frosties and the story goes on from there.
I think, it is interesting new way to engage the viewer and make them part of the story. Because as I have read, there are up to 5 different endings of the story depending on your choices. So my ending could differ from my friends because of the choices we made.
The few benefits to interactive shows are/or what I think:
- As mentioned above, user engagement/involvement and make them part of the narrative.
- Multiple watch – Like me, others would also want to know what would happen if I chose Sugar Puffs instead of Frosties? (This is a lame example, but for meaningful choices) and for this reason I would re-watch the show and make alternate decisions.
- Family fun – 50% of Netflix’s accounts globally watch kids programming, which form part of family viewing and subscriptions. Making interactive decisions while watching with family members is more fun than watching alone making choices. This eventually increases the viewership since this makes more fun watching and interacting with the story with family.
The one downside I saw was, some choices thrown at me were irrelevant to the story line (again, the example of the cereal choice) which had no impact to the narrative. This could make some people get bored or frustrated. The good side, there are very few of such irrelevant choices.
Let me know in the comments what do you think about the interactive stories and whether you liked the Bandersnatch show.