By Jason Zada

Foreword: Recently, I was asked to give a talk on interactive storytelling and went into a deep dive of the past work that I have done over the past 20+ years. It was great to crate dig through so many memories. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of so many groundbreaking and innovative projects over the years, so let this serve as a shrine to all of the people who helped bring them to life. Let’s start in San Francisco in 1994. The internet was just getting started and I was addicted to creating content…

At this point, almost everyone has heard the phrase NFTs being muttered about. If you haven’t, I’d start here. But chances are, you’ve seen the insane sales that high-profile artists like Beeple have fetched at auctions. There’s a lot of buzz about NFTs, but how real is it all? It took me a while to wrap my head it all and what it means, but I am here to convince you that it’s the future.

Traditionally, digital goods were tied to the provider you purchased them from. If I buy a digital album from Apple, I technically don’t actually own

Entertaining people during our period of isolation, without leaving the safety of your home.

And just like that…. it happened. I went from being on a film set to fielding calls from friends and colleagues about how they could make something virtual in the new unfolding, stay-at-home landscape. People usually call me in situations like this because I’ve done a decent amount of never-been-dones. And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon. So, I'm here to help.

Today I was emailed by someone who was looking for a “virtual director”. I possess a unique skill…

You’re stranded at home, let’s have some fun — 80’s style!

I was born in 1974. Both my parents worked all the time, so my brothers and I were home alone a decent amount of the time. Like many Gen-Xers, we grew up as latchkey kids in the early 80s. Our parents were always at work, so we had to self-entertain during the summer and after school. My daughter is 14 and whines to me, “there’s nothing to do”. 80’s kids were the conquerors of “nothing to do”. We were the masters of being creative while self-entertaining.

Let this be…

Anyone who knows me has messaged me recently and asked me about what I thought of the new interactive episode of Black Mirror. It has all the things I love — the 80s, non-linear storytelling, sci-fi, 80s music. I have a tattoo of a cassette tape that has “1984” written on it. After “playing” it last night, I have had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head, so I decided to write a few of them down.

WARNING: Below is a bunch of mumbling about non-linear storytelling, then a completely SPOILER filled review.

First off, I grew up with choose-your-own-adventure books. The idea of having choices within a typical linear narrative was mindblowing at a young age. I collected every book I could get my hands on and would plot the decision trees on graph paper. I was 8. Fast forward to me on stage, giving a lecture about being an innovative storyteller and showing a slide of my decision trees from my childhood. Non-linear entertainment shaped the storyteller I became.

Jason Zada

Jason is an Emmy Award-winning storyteller and director. Best known for Take This Lollipop, The Forest and countless bad karaoke songs.

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