Group Storytelling

I have an idea for a web 2.0 game (mmMMMmmm…. buzz words.) It came to me while I was struggling with writer’s block.

“Group storytelling” has been around for a while. The basic idea is: one person starts telling a story, then the next person continues the story in whatever manner they please, with or without regard for the intentions of the first storyteller. I remember telling chain stories in elementary school, and I remember participating in chain stories on message boards (back in the days of modems and BBSs.)

So, imagine meets group storytelling. People submit the beginnings of stories. The community votes on the winner. Then people submit subsequent portions of the story, and the community votes on those. Mix, pour, repeat, until the story ends.

This may very well already exist, but I didn’t find anything after a quick web search on multiple permutations of the term (i.e. substituting “chain” for “group” and “writing” for “storytelling”.) So I’ll enjoy pretending that it’s an original idea, even if it probably isn’t.  🙂

What could be done to make the group storytelling experience more interesting? How about weaving in art? Each week, the community could vote on artwork that best illustrates the winning story section from the previous week.

How about adding more game-like elements to the experience? Each story (lasting, perhaps, three months) could be focused around a challenge; some serious, some quirky. For example: hide as many references to fruit in the story. The community could then be encouraged to identify the references. Points for making and finding.

Or the challenge could pit readers against author. For example, imagine the challenge, “write a piece of historical fiction about George Washington, staying (or appearing to stay) as true to history as possible.” Writers score points for sneaking fiction past the community; readers score points for catching falsehoods. (Note — as a writer, I actually prefer the idea of an uncomplicated group storytelling exercise, but I think it might be fun for every third storytelling challenge to incorporate a sub-game like one of these. And of course, the sub-game could unite author and reader, not pit them against one another.)

Anyway, specific examples aside, what do you think?

7 responses to “Group Storytelling

  1. There\\\’s an online Exquisite Corpse-type game at:

    I like the idea of additional constraints, though. It could make for a nice twist. Maybe in the lightning round!

  2. Neat idea. Why does it need to be linear though? You could just wiki the whole thing, support forking versions, etc.

  3. Jon Aquino made something kind of like that:

  4. When I was in high school I wrote a similar thing for the school’s BBS. It was a choose your own adventure game that let you enter a new chapter whenever you encountered a dead end. The BBS didn’t have enough of a population to make it really work, and if it had the utter lack of filters would have been a problem. I imagine such a thing would work pretty well on the web.

  5. Hey all — thanks for the links! Unless I missed something, none of these sites incorporate the vote mechanic which I think is crucial. So I’ll keep naively hoping this is an original idea… 🙂

  6. I have been studying group storytelling for the past 5 months. I am also interested in comics as a form of communication and entertainment. As a project for graduate school I’m developing an interactive comic generator application for the web. I want to be sure to get as much input as possible from an array of potential users. If you read this and want to help, please complete the survey on the URL below and tell you friends. Thanks.

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