Her Story continues the sort of post-modern, nonlinear storytelling tradition we’ve previously encountered in works like This House Has People In It. Instead of laying out a cohesive narrative for audiences to passively traverse, these new stories depend on invested and active participation to function properly. In Her Story’s case, participation means “challenging your intent and ability to listen”, as another blog post discussed. We’re effectively put in the role of an archivist, sifting through units of data that have little meaning own there own but when painstakingly arranged together, form a *somewhat more* understandable product.
Christopher Nolan’s Memento is a great example of how a variant of this narrative technique can be implemented in film. The YouTube channel, Lessons from the Screenplay, explains how it works.
In an age where so many cultural references and phenomena originate on the web, it makes sense that game developers and others mimic the ‘procedure’ of the internet by implementing features like search engines, databases, elements of choice, and nonlinear story progressions in their pieces. People are given the option to invest as much or as little time and analysis on these works, and I believe that’s something digital natives prefer.
With Her Story, there are a myriad of interpretations you can draw depending on how much you see. After watching just a few of the videos, one might assume, like I did, that someone had an affair with someone else (a hypothesis that is quickly and cleverly dispelled through a frustrating conversation with the interrogator, “you’re reaching here. Why are you so obsessed with sex and affairs?”). Once you’ve sifted through more tapes, the circumstances become a bit more clear, but even those intrepid few who’ve gone through the whole work still argue whether we’re dealing with twins or one woman with disassociative identity disorder. This uncertainty of whether we’re getting the full story and context is, I think, what makes stories like these so compelling and addictive.