What’s needed to ensure that virtual AGMs uphold the spirit of shareholder engagement and corporate transparency? Yeoh Oon Jin Executive Chairman PwC

How will the craft of storytelling change in the future? How can novelists, filmmakers, television producers and game designers adapt?

Given the broad spectrum of ideas covered by many of the terrific answers so far, I wanted to focus on answering the secondary question included in the context, which is: “How can novelists, filmmakers, television producers and game designers adapt [to the changing craft of storytelling]?”

In terms of answering this question, I thought the most relevant answers listed so far have to do with:

With the exception of virtual reality, none of these mediums exist yet except in stories themselves. (In the case of VR, as far as I know it’s not available to the average consumer.)

But they will. Eventually. (The one that scares me is the brain implanting one.)
So how will future storytellers adapt to these new mediums? In three ways that I can see:

1. When a new vehicle for storytelling becomes available, telling stories in that medium inevitably begins where the last one left off. You have to start somewhere. The first photographers employed many visual techniques and styles used by painters, because that’s what they were familiar with. The first narrative filmmakers tried to duplicate the experience of sitting in the audience of a play, while also playing by the relatively new rules of photography: with a one-camera setup, and cuts when a new scene began. That’s what they were familiar with, and what their audiences were familiar with. And so on.

2. Storytellers will push the envelope. Citizen Kane is considered a great movie not only because (some people think) it’s an interesting story, but because Orson Welles (and his screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz) did things with the medium that had never been seen before. Some people today think it’s overrated, but it was groundbreaking and revolutionary for its time, and it pushed the boundaries and helped grow the crafts of screenwriting and filmmaking.

3. Storytellers will use what they’ve learned to successfully adapt their known craft to reflect the advantages and limitations of the new medium. By understanding these advantages and limitations, storytellers developed new conventions and rules by trial and error over a long period of time. This happens by osmosis and continual evolution of technique, a sort of “crowd sourcing” of the masses. It will take many years for each new medium to develop conventions and standards, but they will develop.

Here’s a simplistic, completely theoretical model of how one might envision the evolution of storytelling from film through brain implanting:

Film –> Video games –> Virtual reality –> Holo-rooms –> Sensory experiences –> Brain implanting

If you follow this theoretical line of evolution, virtual reality is directly related to video games. It’s just more immersive. Storytellers who use virtual reality will likely begin using many of the rules of the video gaming world, and many or most of them will have experience writing stories for the gaming world. Eventually they will innovate and go through enough trial and error, failures and successes, bombs and hits, to discover what works and what doesn’t, and what the audience wants or doesn’t want.

Holo-rooms would seem to arise directly from virtual reality… but now you’re not only wearing a body suit and goggles, you’re actually inside a holographic projection of an imaginary place. This is going to require even more experimentation and innovation.

And so on… down the line, until we get to brain implanting.

Brain implanting means, basically, that we’re dealing with all of the above. If you were able to implant experiences, false memories, hallucinations, visual and auditory experiences, etc. in the mind of the audience … you’d really have to understand a whole hell of a lot about multiple different types of storytelling. You’d have to understand how to write thoughts that matched the rules of storytelling. To create a plausible narrative that can be followed. Of creating images in the mind of the audience. Would you break the fourth wall? Would you want the person experiencing the story to be unaware they were experiencing the story? What are the legal ramifications?

In this case, the person experiencing the story (the storytellee?) would be so ridiculously immersed in the story that they could conceivably lose themselves and go insane. And so in this particular case, the conscientiousness and integrity of the storyteller becomes very critical indeed.

One final word, here.

A number of answers mention emotional connections. As each new medium gets established, there is tendency, however briefly, for the excitement about the technology to take over. This can lead to a lack of developing the emotional aspects of a story. A common example is certain big-budget Hollywood features in which the story seems to have been added as an afterthought to support outstanding special effects. It’s critical, then, as new mediums develop that storytellers retain the emotional connection with their audience.

Of course, the more immersive you get, the more unlikely it is for the person experiencing the story to not be able to experience the story without getting emotionally involved. Playing a video game and caring about whether you shoot the multiplayer enemy is one thing; having become another persona in a brain-implanted VR is quite another.

If even a few of these predictions are realized, our children and grandchildren will experience types of storytelling that we could only dream of.