An online, interactive film, created and programmed to tackle and raise awareness around a complex social issue by merging story telling, interactivity and data.
In each Branching Story, audience members become participants and are required to interact with the film by making choices on behalf of the story’s protagonist in order to progress the film forward. Decisions made by participants, ultimately determine a protagonists fate.
Through the interactive software we use, we can capture quantitive choice-based data on all participants throughout their interactive experience. This data is quantified upon age, gender, location and all the choices they make whilst participating in the film.
A Brief History
In May 2020, we received funding from Arts Council Englands Emergency Response Fund to pioneer our new working model, Branching Stories. We forged the concept at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that we could still reach young people despite not being able to perform in a theatrical setting. In our Arts Council Application we outlined we would develop the concept by creating two Branching Stories around two issues that were being magnified due to the pandemic, Domestic abuse and Cyberbullying.
Both projects were supported and championed by a range of local and national organisations as a unique and innovative way to engage young people and the wider community in meaningful conversations.
After the release of our second Branching Story, we were contacted by Englands Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to develop a Branching Story centred around Loan Sharks and Illegal Money Lending. We worked alongside IMLT for 8 weeks, developing the narrative, interweaving choices into the story and writing the script. We filmed the Branching Story in January and released 'SHARK' in April.
Since its release, we have had over 2500 young people engage with the project and national coverage on BBC News and ITV News.
"Working with Perception Theatre was fantastic. They took the key points that we wanted to get across to young people, and presented them in a way that is totally engaging, relevant and non-patronising. The resource they developed is being utilised across England in a variety of settings including schools, youth work and projects working with vulnerable people and is receiving great feedback. All the staff at Perception were great to work with, took the time to understand the issues we as an organisation face, and developed something that is far better than our expectations hoped for."
Englands Illegal Money Lending Team
The Branching Stories Experience
Participants can access a Branching Story on any smart device; mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, even smart TV’s with the simple click of a web link.
When designing our Branching Stories concept, we wanted to ensure that the concept not only provided young people with insight into complex social issues but also those who work in tackling these issues too. It is for this reason we chose to incorporate choice based data into our experience.
The data we capture through Branching Stories gives detailed insight into issues being tackled and allows professionals and organisations to identify emerging patterns amongst specific demographics. In capturing this data on age, gender, location and choices made throughout the experience it also allows professionals and organisations to examine the different demographics and decide which demographics could be at risk of making negative choices in real life and where they need to aim their prevention strategies.
The Branching Stories data show this style of presentation has the potential to play a vital role in our strategic understanding of perceptions and insight related to specific topics.
The choice-based data is also important in terms of delivery. A youth justice colleague found the pause and choice approach enabled invaluable conversations to take place in a one-to-one case management setting.