The Viewer-Participant Performing Morality in Interactive Storytelling  in Bandersnatch

The Viewer-Participant Performing Morality in Interactive Storytelling in Bandersnatch

Karina Pătrăşcanu
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6605-3.ch013
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The present chapter wishes to interrogate the capability of interactive cinema to test, unveil, exercise, and challenge the viewer-participant's moral layout. Looking at Netflix's Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the chapter mainly explores the implications and outcomes of performing morality in a digital space mediated by a new mode of telling and receiving stories. The analysis looks at possible obstacles in exercising—in a genuine manner—moral imperatives and looks at the nature of the story as well as the format as catalyst for self-reflection and moral awareness. The chapter then explores the possibility that moral conduits are the product of active practice, and that interactive cinema embodies such practice.
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This present paper is placed in the broader context of digital narrative and new media forms of entertainment, where, according to Ciccoricco and Large (2019), fiction must “balance familiarity (pattern recognition and representation) and novelty (defamiliarization by means of its distinct interface) just as it, and its interface, must balance simplicity and complexity in its aesthetic treatment of narrative” (p.58). The paper is further predicated on the assumption that this new form of entertainment validates the prediction of a heavily technologized commercial era, where the lines between the human now and what comes after are blurred by humanity’s increasing reliance upon technology, but where we, as civilization, maintain and in fact increase our sense of accountability and community (Braidotti, 2013, p.49). As such, this paper flirts with the horizon of posthumanist entertainment consumption, in a future when moral practice could potentially distinguish human from machine.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interactive Cinema: Form of cinema where viewers interact in some form with the story, usually by making choices that directly affect the outcome.

Morality: Set of arguably subjective principles acquired through practice, social interaction, self-exploration.

Digital Cinema: Form of cinema expressed through increasingly new technologies. The focus is on the change of location of the cinematic arts.

Virtue Ethics: Perspective over the ethical or moral body as qualities acquired through lifelong practice.

Digital Narrative: Story produced by digital means. The focus is on the process of storytelling transformation and abstraction.

Meta: The quality of being self-referential; higher level of self-awareness; rational acknowledgment of one’s categories.

Viewer Agency: The capacity of the viewer/user of interactive content to access some degree of distance from the authority of the content creator.

Posthumanism: Conceptualization or realization of the human element in a state of equilibrium with one’s nature, surroundings, and technological capabilities. The term is debated over, as there are several definitions in use.

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