Tommy Honton is an experiential designer in the immersive theater space, and he’s helped to design interactive narratives that can handle a range of different disruptive responses that can ruin the experience for other people. One question for all interactive narrative designers is “How do you continue the flow of the narrative independent of different options that are provided?” For more sophisticated interactive narratives, then the question starts to become “How do you design a narrative or interactions that are resilient from people deliberately or indeliberately trying to sabotage the experience for themselves or others?”
Honton identified three different disruptive archetypes. The “troll” who is deliberately trying to break the experience for the sake of getting a reaction or discovering what happens at the edges of the rules. The “competitive gamer” who is trying to win, and isn’t afraid to disrupt other people’s experiences driven by a fear of missing out and a desire to experience everything. And then the “naive newbie” who accidentally leaks spoilers or has a passive and non-engaging reaction to prompts for participation. Honton identified these major disruptive archetypes, and he shared with me some strategies to handle each of these types of disruptions at the Immersive Design Summit.
As interactive narratives become more and more sophisticated, then actors or AI will need to be able to quickly identify the temperament of each audience member and have a strategy for how to best use a combination of body language, words, and the process of setting clear boundaries with real consequences in order to handle these types of disruptions and to prevent them from ruining other people’s experiences. For a lot of immersive theater actors, they’ve had to unconsciously learn these type if embodied body language skills, and they’re starting to be recruited into helping design interactive VR experiences. For example, Fable Studios’ Wolves in the Walls that premiered this week at Sundance used Then She Fellimmersive theater actors from Third Rail Productions to help design the main interactive character interactions as well as do the motion capture performance. Lessons from interactive immersive theater are already starting to flow into VR & AI experiences, and will continue to be on the bleeding edge of social and embodied interactions.
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