After movies

The progression from novel to movie is not really paralleled by anything in interactive media. To say that “Just as we moved from words to images, as the novel gave way to the film, now we are moving to interactivity as the film gives way to the computer game” doesn’t quite sit right.

It’s not that I think of games as a lesser medium. Quite the contrary. Computer games are glorious and exciting in their vast possibility, and they are still in their infancy. No, that’s not it.

It’s more that the progression from page to screen is within the long tradition of protagonist driven linear narrative, and I don’t think that’s going to be replaced. Linear narrative seems to emerge from how our minds work, and it is how we have always told our stories of emotional truth.

And it’s not just novels and films that work this way. The theatre can be thought of as a kind of hybrid of novel and film. It privileges words the way a novel does, yet like cinema it also privileges the visceral quality of physical human presence.

So I am wondering what will be the future of the protagonist driven linear narrative — a form that has existed in human history for as far back as we can see, and that shows no signs of going away. What will it be like in, say, a century from now?

Will it be some form of immersive holodeck, in which we find ourselves seemingly co-present with the characters of a compelling story — seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, touching what they touch?

Or will it be something even beyond that — a direct transposition of their most subtle and fleeting thoughts and emotions onto our own brain, as though these thoughts and feelings were our own, emerging from within the core of our being?

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