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A New Age of Storytelling By Melissa BEnson

Stories connect us to the world around us and provide an escape to the world we want

Connecting to the world

Storytelling brings people together. In the beginning there was the storyteller, dependent on their voice to share the story. The exchange between to story teller and their audience was intimate and personal. Everything they said anticipated what they audience knew, and was designed with a specific purpose. It might have been to help to understand something unexplained, like the creation of the world or as simple as teaching about the importance of listening to adults. It had a purpose that was different from stories of today.

The purpose and mode of storytelling has evolved over time. Todays messages are about personal experiences, sharing one's voice and perspective. This doesn't mean the traditional story style has disappeared. We are just seeing more of this new style. People want to be heard.

Not only has the purpose changed but also the way stories are being told have evolved with time. First with using written words, then with digital technology. As technology has become more advanced the distance between the storyteller and the audience has changed. In most cases, the teller doesn't have any personal connection to the audience. Communication is made up of the speaker and the listener. The speaker shares and the listener receives the information. This is the very essence of oral storytelling. Over time the human element has become further removed. Now the teller shares and the information is received by some type of digital technology, maybe a television, a computer, or a software program, and from there it is given to the audience only if they decide to engage. The story is now being consumed by a faceless individual on the other end of some type of device.

Yet, with this change we have more storytellers. Technology has opened the door for people from all walks of life to share their voices, across multiple platforms. No longer are authors restricted to finding agents, publishers, and others to help them share their stories. The writer can now write and share through a magnitude of different ways. While they may not know their audience personally, technology has allowed them to reach more people than ever...... even people thousands of miles away.

While in someways technologies has removed the immediate interaction of the traditional storyteller and the audience, it has created a whole new way to interact. People are using social media platforms such as Twitter, facebook, blogs, webpages, and youtube to share their stories. These platforms have allowed the creators opportunities to create new types of stories, often those about everyday life.

These stories allow the reader to experience the world that others live, stories that may never have been told without the technology to share them. Even though the audience may be unknown they find ways to connect. This can be through comments, likes, and dislikes, or in the case of twitter sometimes they can link their stories together or build off of each others contributions. These exchanges are the stories of what is happening in that moment.

The writer has in essence become the creator of their own lives. Sharing what they want to share, creating the stories they want about themselves and in some cases others. Technology has created a sense that we know about the lives of complete strangers simply because more people are telling about their experiences. We feel more connected even though in reality we may be even less so.

Escape to the world you want

Once dependent on words and our imaginations to create the mystical worlds of escape, we now have access to fabricated worlds that allow us to be submerged in the world we wish to experience.

The view of stories has expanded with the development of new technologies. Video games are including more complex stories than ever before. Allowing the player to become characters in the experiences. Often times the player has the ability to see what is happening through the eyes of the character they are using. Allowing the played to feel like they are an inherent part of the events unfolding. Characters, backstories, and settings are developed through the use of cut scenes.

Story immersion isn't limited to playing console games. Stories are not just about words, new digital technology has allowed the storyteller to use visuals and audio to captivate and stir emotions within its audiences. With the development of Virtual Reality (VR) technology, people can be dropped into an experience that looks and feels like the real thing. The individual using VR is receiving 360 degrees of visual and sound inputs.

Storytelling is a part of being human. We all want to be heard and with the evolution of technology we are able to hear more voices and connect to more people. I wonder though are we really more connected or less?

Resources:

Le Guin, U.K. (2004) . Telling is Listening. The Wave in the Mind.

Johnson, J.M. (2018). Social Stories: Digital Storytelling and Social Media. Forum Journal, 32(1), 39–46.

Stone, C. (2019, Jan. 07). The evolution of video games as a storytelling medium, and the role of narrative in modern games. https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ChrisStone/20190107/333798/The_evolution_of_video_games_as_a_storytelling_medium_and_the_role_of_narrative_in_modern_games.php

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