Secret Story Network: Exploring live interactive stories with audience participation

Project partners: Bellyfeel, Duck Soup, Louise Malkinson, Sam Easterby-Smith and Leeds Beckett University

Secret Story Network (SSN) is a partnership between interactive story experts, academics, TV writers, producers, directors, app builders and audiences. 

The project explored a series of live interactive stories that took place in a prototype chat app for smartphones and tablets that was built as part of the R&D project. The stories centred around popular TV shows and role-player games led by a story conductor where the audience actively participated.

The R&D process involved running a series of workshops where ideas for UX and admin interfaces were discovered. In addition, the team identified valuable anecdotal descriptions of how particular target audiences would describe and understand the SSN experience. Leeds Beckett were able to use outputs from the research to submit an article due to be published in the Journal of Screenwriting this year. The SSN project was also included in the International Association for Media and Communications Research (IAMCR) online conference in Participatory Communication Research.

The process identified new potential opportunities for writers and producers in Yorkshire to support existing TV drama and documentary shows, new shows and standalone story experiences, expanding the region’s media industry into new areas with the potential to result in a new business model for interactive handheld story content.

Krishna Stott, managing director, and industry partner on this project, says:

“Working collaboratively with our network partners during this project has provided an insight into wider use of our ideas and technology for live online stories commissioned by broadcasters and arts organisations. The real challenge will be to get people to the right digital place at the right digital time outside of big social networks.

The development of stories that ran alongside popular TV shows and formats was new to us and gave us many insights into the way that audiences prefer to engage.

Through the R&D process we also uncovered significant features we need for the app which will make it easier to recruit, market and allocate places for SSN live online experiences.

We are currently developing the SSN app prototype with these additional functions for more intense testing and a potential launch.”

Categories: Performance, Technology