I love digital storytelling, and the latest innovation by Penguin is an absolute corker – exploring the intersection between literature, the web and gaming.
We Tell Stories was conceived by Penguin as a digital writing project, challenging selected authors to create new forms of fiction for a digital audience.
The project claims it will “create new fiction and offer a unique, immersive and innovative experience to readers everywhere” – and on first inspection it looks like they’re bang on brief.
The first story, ‘The 21 Steps’ by Charles Cumming, uses Google Maps technology to literally take the reader on a journey as they navigate through the story – its utterly delightful, and such a creative and different way to read a story.
Over the next 6 weeks, writers such as Mohsin Hamid, Naomi Alderman and Nicci French will be publishing their own interactive tales, with the added bonus of a hidden seventh story:
But somewhere on the internet is a seventh story, a mysterious tale involving a vaguely familiar girl called Alice. Readers who follow this story will discover clues that will shape Alice’s journey and help her on her way. These clues will appear online and in the real world and will drive readers to the other six stories where they will have the chance to win some wonderful prizes, including The Penguin Complete Classics Library, over £13,000 worth of the greatest books ever written.
I love the way that Penguin have embraced the digital space to bring together the age-old pastime of storytelling – the bread and butter of their business – with the modern world of digital interactivity, alternate reality gaming, and user participation. They’ve already dipped a toe in the water with their wikinovel experiment A Million Penguins – I’d predict that their willingness to explore this space further can only be richly rewarded, if other sectors are anything to go by – as the early adoptors begin to generate new avenues for revenue via digital channels and leave their slower moving competitors struggling to eke out revenues from their existing offline ventures.
Update: Check out Behind the Buzz for a full rundown on all the other many varied ventures Penguin have embarked on – they’re clearly absolutely committed to exploring the best ways to navigate the digital landscape to best connect with their consumers, and as far as I’m concerned, are doing a bloody great job…
[ Full disclosure - this has been produced by Six to Start, the company started by my friend Dan Hon: Dan’s past work totally rocks and this is no exception - I urge you all to check it out ]