Adaptive Storytelling

A lot of people buy a book, read it, and then either put it on the shelf or give it away. They only read the story once. Which is a shame really, because the first time you read a book you will almost certainly miss things.

But what if every time you read a book, it was different?

You can get Read You Own Adventure books, I had loads of them as a kid, where you make decisions, roll dice, and work your way through different potential storylines. These were certainly different each time you read them.

But what if you didn’t choose the adventure, what if it chose you?

If the reader is using an app on their phone, or reading on their tablet, laptop or desktop, we can use technology to find out where they are, what time of day it is, and even what the weather is like there. We could then use this to change the text they get.
One of the things that can really enhance a story is the weather. A character can look out of the window, see the sun shining, go out for a walk and meet a stranger that sends them off on a journey of discovery. Or, they could look outside and see the rain and decide to stay in and watch the telly instead, and then see something on the news that makes them act in a totally different, still setting off on their journey, but informed by the news on the television rather than the words of a stranger in the park. And what if the reader was reading about thunder rolling outside, when it actually was rolling outside their window too?

A character could be having a meal, and depending on what time of the day the reader has picked up the “book” that meal could be breakfast, lunch or dinner.

By using technology to find out where the reader is, what time of day or night it is for them, and what the weather is like where they are, the story could adapt to bring the reader more into it.

And then there’s reading time too. If a reader sits down and reads from start to finish, the characters could act more tired, and make more bad decisions than if the reader picks it up occasionally and gives the characters time to rest in between bouts of acting. I think that it’s something that computer games have dabbled with in the past, tying real world dates and times into the action of the characters in games. In a way, this is something similar to a cross between The Never Ending Story and a Tamagotchi.

Storytellers have been doing something similar for years too, adjusting the tale according to their audience, so is it possible now to use technology to do the same?

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