Netflix creates an interactive TV show for children

A lot of people remember a line of interactive books called “Choose Your Own Adventure” in which the reader controlled the adventure. The characters would reach a decision point and, depending on which path was chosen, the reader would go to another page to pick up the story. Now, according to Verge, Netflix has created a couple of TV shows using the same principle.

The first show is “Puss in Boots: Trapped in an Epic Tale,” which will have 13 decision points where the viewer can control the story. Next will be “Buddy Thunderstruck” with eight decision points coming in July 2017.  An interactive version of “Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout” is due to come out in 2018

The interactive feature will not be available for every platform, at least at first. The feature will work on a number of smart TVs, gaming consoles, iOS devices, and Roku devices. The feature will not be available for the time being on the worldwide web, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Android handheld devices. The goal is to get kids to watch the shows over and over again, exploring every way the stories can proceed depending on the choices that are made.

Netflix is going for quality with its interactive programing experience. For “Puss in Boots” the live streaming service contracted with DreamWorks Animated Television. For “Buddy Thunderstruck” Netflix partnered with American Greetings Entertainment. For the latter production, the approach consisted of a main narrative for the talking dog that races trucks with four possible outcomes and different adventures but with similar conclusions.

Depending on how the experiment goes, interactive programming could come to adult fare. Some programs, such as “The Crown” wouldn’t be a good fit as they are based on historic events. But one can imagine indulging in murderous political shenanigans with Frank Underwood in “House of Cards” or planning prison breaks in “Orange is the New Black” “The Santa Clarita Diet” has all sorts of macabre possibilities for the new way of doing television.

Will interactive TV take off?

Television viewing has tended to be a passive exercise, something one does after the end of a hard day at work without the requirement of too much thought. The television show as video game may prove challenging for traditional TV fans, requiring as it does attention and some thought. But for certain TV viewers, especially younger millennials, the new way of watching the tube may have some appeal.