Future of Storytelling

Future of Storytelling (FoST) has been organising annual invitation only summits on the theme of storytelling in the digital age since 2012. Based in New York, FoST also produces international tech exhibitions, a blog and an annual prize for innovation in storytelling. In addition it produces short films about current ideas with contributions from practitioners, academics, authors, animators, publishers and gamers.

The online video library is well worth checking out. Recent highlights include a feature by Saschka Unseld of Oculus Story Studio called ‘Uncovering the Grammar of VR’. In the film he describes how placing the observer’s viewpoint inside a story, changes the relationship they have with characters when viewed via a screen. Unseld says VR changes the way empathetic emotions are experienced and can sometimes lead to feelings of discomfort. When the oculus story studio recently made a comedy, they found that slapstick falls are no longer funny when the observer is virtually standing next to the unlucky character. VR seems to allow a more intimate bond to develop between the character and it’s audience which Unseld believes requires a new storytelling language to that of traditional video and film.

See also this contribution from Professor Janet Murray called ‘Dramatic Agency’. The film traces the evolution of storytelling from Shakespeare’s use of an aside (the intimate moment when a central character speaks directly to the audience), to a present in which the viewer expects rich and extended digital storytelling and looks forward to a future which is akin to a starship holodeck immersive experience. She argues that the long form storytelling of extended multi series TV shows is helping to develop a new way of storytelling by extending the story into second screen viewing and further interactions with the characters and creators on the internet and social media. Gaming is also changing the language of storytelling, allowing players to experience ‘real life’ situations that they would normally turn away from in the first person. Murray believes that mordern digital storytelling is stretching human capacities by collectively building multiple points of view to help us make sense of the world we live in.