Technology is changing, and with it the stories we see and tell on TV are changing too. But what exactly do the changes we’re seeing mean for storytelling in entertainment? Quora user Mike Sellers provided this insight to give us some idea of what we might expect, as well as how storytelling has been changing for thousands of years already. Here’s Mike:

In a lot of ways, storytelling will remain as it has for the last 3000+ years: we create meaning out of events, context, and emotion, and we enjoy being told a crafted story where the end is already known, which is why story forms are so common across time and culture. However. We are at the opening of a new era of story telling (and have been for about the past fifteen years, with the advent of graphical virtual worlds). We literally have the ability to tell stories in ways not possible before this in human history. Plays, books, radio, movies and TV all changed the way stories were delivered, but not the fundamental structures of the stories told or the relationship between the storyteller and the audience. With immersive, open-ended, multi-user worlds, we no longer have one teller and many listeners; instead we have thousands or millions of points of view in the same world at the same time, creating meaning out of their actions and events in the world. With this, for the first time we have the potential to create new kinds of stories: stories that, in one way to put it, are asked, not told. That is, a movie or book can tell a story,providing answers to perennial questions: “this is what love is,” “this is what it means to be at war,” “this is what family is about,” etc. Virtual worlds (especially in the form of games) have the potential to set a context within which meaningful events occur, but which ask the participants to discover their own answers to vital questions, where the answers are not pre-packaged: what is love? Is war ever moral? Where do the bonds of family end? What is honor worth? The answers to these will be as varied as the participants, and the meaning arises from the combination of the multiplicity of points of view. This isn’t all going to happen overnight, but it will happen. Games as a storytelling medium is still in its infancy. Significant challenges (perhaps most of all creating socially aware AI characters to provide scaffolding for human interactions) remain. But these will become staples of the storytelling craft in the future just as surely as the pen and the movie camera have in the past.

What does this all mean for the future of TV? Can we expect to see more complex, immersive television experiences, where we not only watch a show but actively participate in it? Or will TV change to an entirely new platform, something we can’t fully imagine today? What do you think is in store for stories on TV? Photo by avpiedra.