‘Bandersnatch’ and the future of TV

Netflix's first choose-your-own-adventure story has been praised for its innovation

Following the release of Netflix’s first interactive film ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’, it’s possible the time has come to rethink how technology might intersect the sleeper state.

Bandersnatch is an immersive, nonlinear film that uses the "branching narrative" storytelling format and allows viewers — through a touch screen or their remotes — to pick between a series of two choices as they go along, giving them control over how the plot unfolds. Bandersnatch is set in 1984 and follows a programmer named Stefan, who is developing a choose-your-own-adventure computer game for an emerging technology company run by famed gamer Colin Ritman. Stefan's game is called Bandersnatch after a childhood adventure novel. ("Bandersnatch" was also the name of a highly anticipated game in 1984 that never released.) The meta-story at the centre of the narrative features more than one scene of Stefan becoming nearly undone by the immense task of creating a best-selling interactive game.

A lot of it is Charlie Brooker's, the creator of Black Mirror, biography, with a certain amount of his own childhood included in order to incorporate some elements of truth in the film. It took over 2 years to develop the technology needed, and while there is no official run length, viewers have watched it in as little as 40mins, although it could take up to two and a half hours to fully “play” to its official end.

The notion of interactive tv growing might seem like lunacy to anyone with some knowledge of the history of failed attempts over decades. But with Netflix potentially investing billions in interactive tv, the genre is gaining popularity even amongst sceptics. Should we see more investment here from more entities besides Netflix? Choose the path ahead wisely.

Katie V