TORONTO – Netflix is taking a page from a retro children’s book format to experiment with interactive programming.
“Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale” launched Tuesday on the streaming service with a format that will remind some parents of the so-called gamebook genre, more commonly called “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
For now, the interactive experiment with the popular animated swashbuckler Puss in Boots is limited to only a few episodes.
Viewers can decide which characters he will encounter to determine the path of the storyline.
Animated teen comedy “Buddy Thunderstruck” will debut an interactive episode on July 14, while Netflix will also use the format for the upcoming series “Stretch Armstrong” sometime next year.
Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, director of Netflix’s product innovation, said executives specifically focused on younger-skewing programs to test the waters with the adaptable-story technology. More than half its members watch kids and family content every month, she said.
Netflix will be able to analyze which choices viewers are making to better understand what they enjoy in their programming, she added.
Early advertisements for the interactive platform show two children sitting together and trying to decide which choice to make on their tablet screen; not surprisingly, they don’t agree. Some parents can probably imagine a similar scene playing out in their living room — just not quite as tranquil — if their kids disagreed on where to take the show.
Netflix discovered that problem when they were testing the technology with kids and decided to add an option to essentially rewind the story and take a different pathway.
Interactive films and TV series aren’t exactly a new idea.
Over a decade ago, the “Choose Your Own Adventure” brand released an interactive animated DVD called “The Abominable Snowman” with voice work by William H. Macy and Frankie Muniz.
“Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” revisited the concept a few years later on DVD with an entirely different version of the movie that weaved together multiple narratives from deleted scenes.
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