Netflix is adding interactive branching stories for kids. What about big kids?
Netflix is announcing something pretty cool — interactive storytelling. Beginning with Dreamworks’ Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, kids will be able to use their controller to choose the narrative direction of a particular story.
It doesn’t work on Android or Chromecast yet, but it will, and by the time it does there will be another show — Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile — to peruse. Netflix says that this is as much an experiment in behavior as it is in showing off its new technology:
We’ve done extensive research and talked to lots of kids and parents, collecting qualitative data to better understand if this is something viewers will like. While we’ve gotten positive feedback (for example, parents like the fact their child has the ability to make decisions and take a seat in the director’s chair, if you will), we’re eager to learn how our members will engage with the experience. Which choices or storylines will be the most popular? Will the mean bears or the friendly bears be more popular? Are members more compelled to rewatch and uncover all of the different storylines?
The children’s programming space was a natural place for us to start since kids are eager to “play” with their favorite characters and already inclined to tap, touch and swipe at screens. They also talk to their screens, as though the characters can hear them. Now, that conversation can be two-way. It’s really about finding the right stories – and storytellers – that can tell these complex narratives and bring them to life in a compelling way.
You can see where this is going, too; so many of the conduits for Netflix, from the NVIDIA Shield to the Xbox One, have controllers, and it makes sense for the company to add as much “gaming” to the increasingly personalized experience as possible. As Amazon has with its X-Ray feature, which allows you to look up actors’ names and bios during a movie or TV show, Netflix may start overlaying pieces of information on top of its own content.