McLuhan Again Proved Right by Bandersnatch

12Jun19

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a 2018 interactive film in the science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David SladeNetflix released the standalone film on 28 December 2018. In Bandersnatch, viewers make decisions for the main character, the young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) who is adapting a fantasy choose-your-own-adventure novel into a video game in 1984.
See Wikipedia for additional explanation: https://tinyurl.com/y26255nu

Bandersnatch… McLuhan was right. Again.

 January 5, 2019  –  By Siobhan Oflynn

Having spent about two hours playing through Netflix’ Bandersnatch, what I found really interesting was the hand-holding, what that said about the presumed audience, and how that telegraphed a set of mental model references to that ‘new’ audience for interactive on a Netflix platform.
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McLuhan’s argument also seems relevant – that the content of any new medium will be that of an established medium until it develops its own aesthetic language.

“The instance of the electric light may prove illuminating in this connection. The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message, as it were, unless it is used to spell out some verbal ad or name. This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the “content” of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph.” – Marshall McLuhan. “The Medium is the Message.”

So, no surprise here, initially evoking very clear familiar genres / plot arcs & characters to ease you in. Granted interactive cinema has been around for decades (Bandersnatch solved a bunch of tech challenges we had mid-2000s with Late Fragment), however, my guess is this will be novel to millions on Netflix who get the gamer references (don’t necessarily have to be gamers) and those who will find the progression from intro cues to meta-references engaging.

AND – last thought – Bandersnatch is an experiment generating a massive amount of organic viewer / player behaviour data. What you choose, how long you play, whether you return to it, etc etc. All that user data will feed decisions as to what to do next. It’s a calling card for Netflix & for interactive producers. Does Netflix have a Director of Interactive? Who do you pitch to? I’m guessing there’s an online scramble to figure that out right now.

Read the full article at https://tinyurl.com/y26255nu



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