Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.
Fiction is life with the dull bits left out.
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.
Creativity is an advertising agency’s most valuable asset, because it is the rarest.
There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.
In 2009, I created 4D Fiction with the goal of having a streamlined theme of articles and to provide a more topical, focused resource than Wikibruce. Wikibruce remains a resource dedicated to ARG community wikis and articles reporting on ARG news, but 4DF is now a resource focused on storytelling, creativity, and fiction in various media that ‘cross over’ from the storyworld and enters our reality. This may include ARGs, viral marketing, experimental art and technology, tools, and other relevant subject matter.
Being a web application developer myself, and having had a hand in ARG development behind the scenes, 4DF is also the name under which I, and in some cases with a team, develop, create, or offer consultation when taking on creative projects.
Please visit and bookmark Wikibruce.com for hosted community wiki news, and follow @4DFiction on Twitter for news, thoughts, musings, and general updates from the world of …whatever you want to call it.
Most fiction and creative productions are ‘two dimensional’ – books, movies, video games, paintings… This, of course, is a wonderful thing itself, and these media themselves haven’t nearly been explored to their full potential. Here, however, is the point at which other forms of fiction begin to emerge by incorporating additional techniques which involve the audience to some more interactive, personal degree.
• Perhaps a billboard presents a strange, incomplete message, causing you to wonder about it and want to find out more about its meaning when you get home. You don’t have to dig deeper, but you want to.
• A song breaks out in a restaurant and a dance troupe composed of people you thought were regular patrons like you begins singing and performing a musical around you. You could leave, but you decide to remain and watch it unfold around you.
• You walk down a sidewalk and notice, phrase by phrase, a message written by a poet in the cement and you choose to keep walking, watching, so you can read the remainder. You could walk away and forget about it, but you want to find out the rest.
• A phone number appears in a commercial or tv show. You could shrug it off, but you curiously take the time to try out the phone number. You call it, and hear a recorded message from one of the characters themselves.
Without Reality, a work of fiction exists in its own world, contained in its own package. The story asks the audience to enter its world for a period of time – a temporary escape from reality. It doesn’t involve the audience as themselves, in a personalized experience. The above are some examples of how an expression, a story, or a creative work incorporates and engages the audience beyond simply providing a packaged, self-contained, temporary experience. In this way, the audience may then also become the presentation medium – word or excitement spreads, not by the direct productions of the creator, but by the choice of the audience.
The fictional world then exists in the audience’s real world, not by force, but by choice.
What happens when the audience interacts and modifies with the creator’s fiction? Does it nullify the intended story? Does it halt the creator’s creativity? Does it cause the creator to toss his hands up in frustration at a ruined masterpiece? To some it might. But when the creator of a work of fiction embraces this fourth dimension- interactivity, or Gameplay- it once again enters a whole new realm of story-telling. The audience could be said to become players, or a part of the story, or even creators themselves.
Where the dimension of Reality implies that the fictional world crosses into the audience’s world and continues to play out there, the Game dimension implies that the fictional world is directly affected by the audience’s actions. Reality and Game, however, are not tied at the hip. A fictional world can be affected by the audience’s actions without truly entering the audience’s reality. At the same time, a fictional world that enters the audience’s reality isn’t necessarily altered by the audience’s actions.
• Though the billboard presented a message causing you to go home and dig deeper into its meaning, the billboard didn’t change. So, what if your search led you to a website that allowed you to alter the message on the billboard, add to it, enhance it for the next person who drives by?
• Though the song and dance broke out around you in the restaurant and entertained you in your own environment, you were never really a part of the story. So, what if a character pulled you up and gave you a microphone so you could respond to a character in the play – who would then respond to you in return?
• Though the phone number you called presented to you a recorded message that enhanced the character’s story, you only listened. What if the next day, the very character from that commercial noticed that you called, and then returned your call?
This is the world of interactive fiction.
In recent years, creators of these works have been trying more often to break free of two dimensions, and engage not only the audience’s mind and emotion, but their body and conscious thoughts, straying away from typical presentation methods- extending a hand as it were, to engage each other in a dance of storytelling.
Interactive fiction doesn’t necessarily have to enter the audience’s reality, however, insomuch as it makes use of the audience’s interaction. A board game can tell a story for example, and engage the audience physically, but it’s still an engagement bound by the presentation medium. “Clue” for example, tells a different story with every game, but the story is created by elements in the package, and asks the players to play roles while unraveling the story. This fiction might be considered three dimensional – it began with an endeavor, was presented in a medium, and incorporated interaction and gameplay. If one were to add Reality to Clue, one might find themselves in the realm of the “murder mystery” game. In this style of game, players can interact with the characters, explore the scenes, examine objects– perhaps the game expands beyond the murder scene to play out over the following week; perhaps around the city; perhaps even upcoming events are influenced by the daily actions of the players.
It is a fine line that’s walked when labeling examples of creative works under coined terminologies though, and could be debated to no end. Mainstream media contains a myriad of unique, creative experiences, and in recent years, developers and bloggers have been debating over and creating new names that could appropriately describe these projects, even debating over the definition of one. Some are labels claimed in business, some are formed in an effort to be different and unique, some try to embrace communities that already exist and associate games with existing labels.
There is no right or wrong here, simply a melting pot of creativity and experimentation. It is what it is. 4D Fiction is not a label, it’s not a genre, it’s not a style of gameplay. It’s simply another perspective- another way of trying to mentally organize the creative chaos into meaningful ideas.
4DFiction.com is simply dedicated to exploring fiction and storytelling that crosses over into our reality – fiction that “IMRG“es.
The 4th physical dimension is generally considered to be time. Certainly a factor in developing these projects is time – is the fiction an experience that can take place only once and only for those who are involved, or can it be experienced again at later dates or by a different audience? In this context, a work of 4-D fiction isn’t defined by this dimension, but it is certainly a factor to be considered in the creative process.
Wikipedia: The fourth wall refers to the imaginary “wall” at the front of the stage in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play. The term also applies to the boundary between any fictional setting and its audience. When this boundary is “broken” (for example by an actor speaking to the audience directly through the camera in a television sitcom), it is called “breaking the fourth wall.”