Cross-platform Storytelling

Level 26, the new crime novel from CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker is a really great example of cross-platform storytelling, merging the book with TV. The reader can leap from paper to cyberspace as they reach each of the 20 ‘cyber bridges’ developed by Zuiker to be consumed alongside each novel. These give the reader the option to go online for exclusive cinematic content, such as FBI personnel files, audio clips of phone conversations, and other back-story material. As the series progresses, storylines and characters will be come to life in the digital world, spinning in and out of the novels. “Level 26 takes the best features of books, film, and interactive digital technologies and rolls them all into a unique storytelling experience we’re calling the world’s first ‘Digi-Novel’”, says Zuiker. The authors of the future will probably not be writing paperbacks, but instead creating narratives that work across TV, film and video games, inviting the user to channel-hop to experience the full story.


The TV series, Lost, with its complex narrative that features a whopping 71 characters in total, has been a huge driver to people consuming non-linear storylines. JJ Abrams took this further with Fringe. Fringe is a bit of an experiment for a ‘series’ as you don’t have to watch episodes one, two, and three to tune into four. Each episode can be viewed and understood consecutively and on its own. In other words, rethinking the traditional linear narrative.

Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good For You, has said, “Over the last half century, television has steadily increased the demands it put on mental facilities through: multi-threaded narratives, increased subtlety, multiple external references, and complex social networks.” The shift to cross-platform seems the inevitable place for storytelling to go.

The idea of a story or content being available in only one format will soon seem ridiculous. As Level 26 shows, new media becomes a complimentary, rather than replacement medium.

Linda stone, the former Apple and Microsoft visionary has a theory about ‘continuous partial attention’ which helps explain how technology has made our attention and consumption habits more suited to simultaneous multi-channels.


Reference: Contagious magazine


Thanks to Neil Bennett for this story. Neil keeps having a repetitive dream about a silver racing bike, but just can’t find the one he’s looking for anywhere. If you spot one, drop a tweet to him here.

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