Detroit Become Human is an upcoming PS4 game published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. This is an classic example of explicit interactivity, where the player’s choices directly affect the outcome of the plot and the characters’ fate. This can be seen from the trailer below, where they show the major plot point of the story and how it branches into many different plot lines.


What I found interesting was the many choices and mechanics behind the conversation, and hopefully I can bring this into my project as well. Each choice created have a rationale become it and this teaches the player the need to be tactful in communication. If you pick a certain choice of conversation – Why would the character listen to you? Or why would they be triggered emotionally? How do you tap on their emotions? In real life, the different things you say also affect others (probably not as drastic as this situation) and this is what I like to emphasise on.



When brainstorming for narratives that could work potentially as a good interactive, I focus on the aspect of Interactive Narratives that intrigues me the most: The branching of the story based on player’s choices, seeing how your choices matter and how you are the determinant on the outcome.

With that I came up with two entirely different areas of focus I could go to: Somatics and Mystery.

Ideation 1: Somatics 

This was inspired by a session touching on “Somatics” – understanding of human relationships “the body perceived from within” e.g. subtle yet systematic communication. I was spurred by building awareness of others around you, gaining empathy and intuition.

The focus is less on what is somatics, it is more on human interaction and picking up subtleties in communication e.g. regarding how one is feeling. Sometimes, when we interact with others, we might be oblivious to how they feel, our words and actions might affect others in ways we might not know as much.

Possible ways to execute:

  • Character(main or secondary) could be in a plight that we often don’t experience/know little about 
  • Garner real-life stories as source of inspiration – Several friends in healthcare industry talked about impacting others’ lives by the little things you do (this could perhaps be a way to raise awareness too)
  • Focus on the differences in interaction and how the different body language an mean differently – respond accordingly 
  • Response can mean alot of others, can make or break a person – may affect development of others – perhaps if you didn’t say this, this person would not feel this way etc. 
  • Ethics
  • Focus on the building on relationships – characters will need to be strong, relatable and one that audience can empathize with/feel sentimental towards
  • Possible headstart from local context: Excessively competitive environment, unable to keep up / Ageing population / Being left behind by society 

Ideation 2: Mystery

Vastly different from my other idea. Focus on Mystery/The Unknown/Thriller. Plunging the player into an situation where they do not know what to expect next, letting the player make careful decisions that determine survival/death.

Possible ways to execute:

  • Focus on Environmental Storytelling
  • Cryptic questions and clues
  • Bring in ethics? 
  • Possible headstart: Werewolf game – This game is a well-known game, and no it will definitely not be a remake of this game. Instead some takeaways that could be good to think about – not knowing what is happening and why, fear of unknown, fear of being next, and how if this is real-life what would people do to ensure their own survival (reveal human nature)?
  • Inspiration: Until Dawn, The Room


Point-and-click adventure game/interactive movie – First-person perspective, puts you in the shoes of the character, helps you immerse more


  • Hopefully a simple yet layered narrative that can stick with the viewer, thoughtful
  • Branching narrative
  • Not in your face, subtle – hopefully with subtext


  • 360 VR video (with choices)
  • Or just videos

Based on my previous idea of Somatics and Mystery, I decided to build on possible plot points that could help work out the narrative interaction. However, there are definitely changes from the previous ideas.

Building on Idea 1 – Somatics 

Plot point:

As stated in the previous post – I was spurred by building awareness of others around you, gaining empathy and intuition. I also had several ideas to execute: Character(main or secondary) could be in a plight that we often don’t experience/know little about Garner real-life stories as source of inspiration – Several friends in healthcare industry talked about impacting others’ lives by the little things you do (this could perhaps be a way to raise awareness too)

Therefore, I am inspired by real-life examples. Also, I wanted the element of the choices – and in real-life it usually comes from the “What-ifs”. Going by the idea of dreams, I read this wonderful article regarding how this man had a dream to be a pilot, but he gave it up to continue his father’s legacy in Nasi Lemak business:

He chose his family over his personal dream. What if he chose to follow his dream, what could have happened then, to his family and to himself? These possible life outcomes could be the branching narrative, a path explored whereby the protagonist did not choose but could have been. Definitely, there will be a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but the context stays grounded to reality.

Possible structure:

Act 1 – Establish his dream, his life where he juggles between helping out his father in the business plus study for his future dream career

Act 2 – Choice of the major dilemma – Family or his personal dream

Act 3 – Based on the choice made, the different life choices affect the life story vastly

To execute this, we will need to interview highlighted people and work closely with them to bring their story to life.

Intended takeaway from narrative: Feel empathetic to others, raise awareness and also help people understand others. Explore social stigma

Inspirations: High rise – Out the Window 

Interface: 360 VR Video, with various plot points that could cause branching narrative (Point and click)

Building on Idea 2 – Mystery

This would be a completely fictional, imaginative premise for the interactive narrative.

Possible structure could be a murder story – Starting from a normal setting, e.g. town/school then the sudden murder of a friend. As the main character, your choices can prevent it – revolve around how to go about save this friend. Resolution, good or bad based on the choices made.

The other structure could be more of a dark mystery story (The Unknown) and ideally to contain the element of playing mind games (e.g. plot twist). The classic structure could be escaping a room, survival depends on the choices again.

Inspirations: Gone Home, The Call of Cthulhu


Zimmerman’s article was a very interesting piece that provided insight into the understanding of game and narrative. This also helped open up new insights into this already well-known subject.

Initially, I had a preconceived notion of a game-story, mainly being a game straightforwardly driven by an overarching narrative. For example, most triple-A titles e.g. RPGs like The Witcher 3 whereby the revolves around the main character finding his daughter; Point-and-click interactive movies like Until Dawn which touches on survival in an island. This text helped me understand that even simple games have a game-story, like Pac-man has much more to offer apart from its surface gameplay, interesting game-story as a backdrop.


Witcher 3, classic RPG that fits the traditional game-story and interactive narrative

Zimmerman widens the perspective of what consists as interactive narrative, and this helped me relooked at games in a different light. The kind of interaction most people are more familiar with; is the straightforward interaction where your participation affects the outcome of the story. Once again referring back to the Witcher 3, it is explicitly participative because the outcome of the character’s fate all determines based on the player’s choices. Zimmerman helps us view that it is an eye-opener to see that many narratives can be interactive in a certain manner. Books can be interactive depending how you view it. However, Zimmerman’s definition of what is narrative might also make the scope of what defines as interactive narrative, being too wide as well. As much as I do believe this concept is subjective and narratives can be interactive in a certain way, I still find a medium like newspaper not as interactive as compared to a choose-your-own-adventure book, since invoking feelings might not be enough but once again this is subjective.

Ultimately, stories are interactive depending on how you view it, along with games, depending on how to choose to play them. Definitely, out of all the concepts that Zimmerman presented, no single concept takes precedence over another since they all work hand in hand to create an complex interactive narrative or game.

The next thing to think about perhaps, now that we have learnt these concepts and new viewpoints from Zimmerman, is how we can push the idea of interactive narratives beyond the traditional well-known concept of it – the mostly filmic concept? How can these concepts intertwine more?