Review contributed by Tarek Daouk.
Overall, I found this book to be a beautifully written page-turner. The Art Of Immersion, by Frank Rose, discusses the impact of technology on story-telling in advertising, movies, books, and video games. According to Rose, successful story tellers have been adopting a new type of narrative that allows fans to immerse themselves in the fictional universe, participate in the plot, and create new angles and spins. Rose is a contributing editor at Wired and has written extensively about the impact of technology on media and entertainment.
The book portrays great examples from Star Wars, Lost, Dark Night, The Office, Mad Men, Halo, Coca Cola, and Disney. The writer says that their stories were presented like a puzzle, each piece told through a separate medium. The fans immersed themselves in these worlds to put the puzzle together. He describes them as “deep media” stories that are not just entertaining, but immersive, taking fans deeper than an hour-long TV drama or a two-hour movie or a 30 second spot will permit.
The internet, with its connective tissue, allows fans to move back and forth between the real and fictional worlds. The best story portrayed in this book was the one for the launch of Dark Night in 2008. The movie release was preceded by a 14 month campaign that got 10 million people to participate in a series of treasure hunts, riddles and puzzles in real-world cafes and on websites, all leading to the last chapter of Batman. Not surprisingly, The Dark Night ranked number one in box office generating over $1 billion in revenue.
I liked the book because it discusses technology not from a technical angle, but from a human and sociological point of view. If you’re involved in story telling, you’ll find this book very interesting.
As Rose concludes, we use stories to make sense of the world and to share that understanding with others. We tell and retell stories we love as a simple act of empathy. If the story is meaningful enough, a superficial encounter won’t leave the fans satisfied. They’ll want you to go deeper. They’ll want to imagine themselves in it, retell it, and make it their own.