For this week’s blog, I looked at two pieces of digital storytelling, both of which were completely different to one another in terms of story and content, but had strong similarities in terms of interactivity and composition.

The first piece of digital storytelling content I interacted with was a piece by Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The piece was titled ‘Welcome to Pine Point’. ‘Welcome to Pine Point’ is a piece about the disappearance of Pine Point, a city in the Northwestern Territories of Canada.

When Simons was a child, approximately aged 9, he visited Pine Point for a hockey tournament, it was the first time he had ever travelled somewhere alone, he remembered it fondly. His family left the north when he was aged 10.

One night last year, he decided to go on the internet and see what had become of Pine Point, and it was no longer there, thus beginning one of the more captivating digital stories I have interacted with for some time.

The story is an interactive digital piece, you access it through the National Film Board of Canada’s website. The piece is composed of many elements, painstakingly put together to create a virtually seamless storytelling experience. The elements featured in the piece include; video (archive footage), audio (interviews, wildtrack, music, audio that occurs when you interact with the piece, e.g. turning the page of an animated photobook), graphics (animation), text, and photographs.

I would be inclined to describe this piece more as an interactive documentary of sorts, as the level of depth here surpasses what I consider a digital story to contain. As described in a blog post I found, the piece is ‘part book, part film, part family photo album’.

‘Welcome to Pine Point’ is a great example of how to tell a digital story in a linear way, the story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The level of interactivity in the piece is solely pressing the next/previous button, clicking through photographs, etc. I believe this piece uses interactivity in a way that allows the story to take centre stage and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

The second piece of digital storytelling content I viewed/interacted with was a piece by the BBC, specifically BBC Three, called ‘Our World War’. ‘Our World War’ puts those interacting in the position of a corporal in World War One, a young corporal might I add.

Throughout the story, the user views mostly video of a realistic WW1 combat scenario. Within this story, the user is prompted to make choices that directly affect viewers experience. One such example is when you and a fellow soldier find a wounded enemy soldier and you must make a decision that will directly impact the outcome of the story, you are faced with the option of leaving the wounded enemy soldier alone, taking them prisoner, or killing them.

The level of interactivity in this piece surpasses ‘Welcome to Pine Point’, the amount of choice and input the user has into the story is greater and allows for multiple scenarios and outcomes, however, I believe that whilst it uses interactivity well, it outstays its welcome and becomes a burden on the piece.

Rather than an interactive story, ‘Our World War’ almost plays out like a hybrid, part video, part video-game. It is in my opinion that whilst ‘Our World War’ maximises interactivity, it sacrifices story. Whilst ‘Welcome to Pine Point’ uses interactivity in a way that maximises the storytelling and blends in well with the piece, and is a foundation, rather than a crutch. I did enjoy both pieces, however, I felt that they both had strengths and weaknesses, however, ‘Welcome to Pine Point’ was my favourite of the two pieces of digital storytelling content I researched this week.

‘Welcome to Pine Point’ –
‘Our World War’ –