Following on from the wildly successful Bandersnatch, Netflix have served up their latest foray into the world of interactive entertainment with You vs Wild starring celebrity survivalist Bear Grylls.
The premise of the new series, released this week on Netflix SA, is that the user makes choices that effect the outcome of Grylls forays into the wild.
Each episode has a mission for Grylls and the viewer to complete and like Bandersnatch these effect the outcome of the episode. In the first episode Grylls is tasked with ‘rescuing’ a doctor lost in the jungle while delivering malaria vaccines to a remote village.
Every form of interactive entertainment faces a similar challenge in finding the balance between challenging the user and ensuring that the experience is an enjoyable one. And in a show like this it is vital that users feel their choices are important and impact the experience.
While there undeniably is entertainment to be had from the series most of the choices presented to the viewer are a clear choice between a sensible option and something that is very risky.
You vs Wild does not allow the viewer to ‘kill’ Grylls and as yet no scenarios have been created to give viewers the choice to make him drink his own urine on TV, for the umpteenth time. Like Bandersnatch though making constant risky choices will terminate the play and take you back. Unlike Bandersnatch though, there are no alternative endings, Grylls either succeeds in his task, while enduring some unpleasant but far from fatal situations, or he doesn’t and you have to start over.
The show doesn’t provide a significant challenge in getting through the episode but is novel enough to retain viewer interest throughout. There are eight mini-adventures to enjoy while Gryll yells ‘you choose’ at you.
Netflix already offers four interactive programmes for children but appear intent on expanding that into the adult market.
There are some questions about the data that Netflix gathers from choices made in their interactive series, we won’t be jumping down any dystopian rabbit holes but users should be aware that information is gathered and the company could possibly share the data.
You vs Wild isn’t everything it could be but it does offer a few hours of not so mindless entertainment and doesn’t have to ask if you are still watching.