Along the lines of video games affecting not only how storytellers go about telling their stories, but also how we go about interacting with said stories, I’d like to point everyone to the website MS Paint Adventures. In this online webcomic, Andrew Hussie (the creator, writer and illustrator) uses the form of a mock text adventure game to allow for users to submit their own ideas of where the story should go. Hussie then takes these suggestions into account and furthers the story according to them. He’s finished one such story in the past (and there are two additional ones that remain unfinished) and is currently working on another one. While the current story has veered away from this process — Hussie still uses the mock user input format, but provides the input himself to further his story as he sees fit — he still includes references to video games aplenty (the text adventure input of the comic itself, as well as references to EarthBound and other video game tropes such as leveling up, there are even sections of the story where the player/reader can control the characters via their arrow keys, etc.). If you want an idea of how this user interaction affects Hussie’s ability to tell his stories, you need look no further than his previous epic Problem Sleuth. Or, for those who do not have the free time or patience to read through the 1000+ pages that make up that story, there’s also the comparatively shorter (and unfinished) Jail Break. Regardless of whether you think that Hussie succeeds in his ultimate goal of making his readers laugh, it’s still interesting to see how story telling is affected when user input is taken into account in real time. Oh, and for anyone wondering, the title comes from MicroSoft Paint, which Hussie originally used to illustrate the adventures (though he has since moved on to more advanced programs).
January 26, 2011