Recently, I did my song and dance for the fine folks at RGA. RGA is a planetary size digital agency that was interested in hearing me talk about making digital stories and systems that make stories. For this I have immense thanks because I don’t get to do this nearly enough.
There were some good questions and commentary tossed my way. I was asked about attention and providing reading in short chunks rather that in long attentive slogs and if Bastion was a reaction to that. This was something I never really thought about. I suppose it was a reaction. It was a reaction readers today, each with a digital ball and chains in their pockets and very little time to spare, being forced to endure a format that was designed for life centuries before. This doesn’t actually make the pervasive continuous partial attention thing any better does it? It just lets you skip around more and more doesn’t it? Not quite I don’t think. What it does is allow you find your way through your own narrative funnel.
Long ago, while working on the alternate and still buried history of ex-Yugoslavia, the post-conflict education specialist I worked with said that putting lots of red dots on a map is the exact thing you should not be doing when trying to tell a story. What you want to do is instead create a funnel when you talk to kids. You want to show a thing they can relate to as a person and then widen it out to the greater context. This is something that I would hope would happen for a 16 year old girl reading a history on the beginning of the Russian Revolution for example. That 16 year old girl most likely can’t relate that well to a 70 year old general, but she might be able to relate to a young girl who watched the Storming of the Winter Palace in 1917. She could read that point of view, and then afterwards read other points of view, and thus understand the whole situation better.
So yes, it might allow you to read in shorter times, but Bastion encourages to find your own path through a large story instead of struggling straight through.