Netflix is planning to release an interactive Black Mirror episode this year

Netflix is planning to roll-out interactive storytelling elements to its original film and TV programming, starting with Black Mirror.

Netflix is planning to release an interactive Black Mirror episode this year

According to a recent Bloomberg report, Netflix – which has already dabbled with interactive elements in kids’ TV shows – has plans to release multiple specials where viewers can choose the show storyline. These planned interactive shows are set to be more complex than what Netflix has done before, although what “choosing your storyline” truly entails is left up to your imagination.

Chances are, this means either choosing character conversation options, a la a video game, or dictating how characters explore and interact with their environment – as is the case in choose-your-own-adventure novels.

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The first show billed to use this format is a single episode of Black Mirror. It’s not clear if this is a one-off special or part of a series, but either way it’s expected to debut this December. Since Black Mirror is generally about the ramifications of technology in our lives, it’s a rather fitting test case.

Netflix has one other live-action project signed up as part of its new project and, according to the report,  several other deals on the table. These titles are expected to include multiple video game adaptations. One example is the narrative-focused adventure game Minecraft: Story Mode which is also set to arrive on Netflix later this year. However, unlike the aforementioned interactive specials Minecraft: Story Mode isn’t a Netflix Original but an acquisition from the now-defunct game developer TellTale Games.

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Interactive shows are already a key component of the TV market, although it isn’t always regarded as such. Reality TV shows, such as Love Island or Britain’s Got Talent, rely on audience participation to vote on contestants, which effects the show’s narrative. It’s a different model but, in effect, this is an early form of the same interactive TV models Netflix is after. In addition, video games Defiance and Quantum Break have experimented with the idea of gameplay defining narrative, with players’ in-game actions influencing the direction of a separate TV show.

Netflix is constantly innovating the ways people consume content, one reason why it has so much money to throw at oddball projects like this. But as anyone who’s been rudely awoken from a game cutscene by a quick-time-event will know, sometimes just wanting to sit and watch something is more enjoyable than playing.

Image credit: Netflix

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