• Ritoban Mukherjee

Lose Yourself in Storium - The Digital Storytelling App

Updated: Jan 12

It was a brisk spring evening. The sun had set fully into the west and four friends sat around a campfire passing around a bottle of cheap spirit while one of them played an old folk song on his guitar.

The boy with the spectacles had a conspicuous double-helix imprinted on the front of his blue tee-shirt. He was the team's resident nerd, the go-to guy for everyone's fill of comic book stories and other geekiness. When he spoke, everyone paused. Any other day he'd just have been brushed aside, hushed up by louder voices eager to make conversation. But not today. Today, he was going to tell a scary story.

At the heart of every good book lies a captivating story. But it isn't just books that benefit from the use of creative writing. From video games to music, from graphic novels to movies, from paintings to handicrafts, every unique piece of art has a story of its own. If you really think about it, that's all people are too - a collection of stories.

Storium, a creative writing app developed by CEO Stephen Hood, is trying to tap into this very concept. It's simple, really. A group of people get online and start writing a story together, each picking their own characters to develop under the ever-watchful eye of a narrator. But the effort the community puts into its writing is what makes the app really shine.

The narrator serves as both the creator of the story and its moderator. To create a new story, narrators can either build a new world from scratch or choose from one of the existing worlds created by the site administrators and the community. Among the narrator's most important roles is to lay down scenes, which is how a story progresses in Storium. Every scene has its set of characters, with each player (or writer) controlling his or her own character.

Once the scene is set, the story progresses with the help of Cards, yet another important aspect of Storium. Each game begins with its own unique deck of story cards and players are also allowed to make them on the fly. Narrator cards are of three types: Place, Character, and Obstacle. Meanwhile, player cards include Nature, Strength, Weakness, Subplot, Asset, and Goal.

At the beginning of a new scene, the narrator picks their choice of cards and writes a small synopsis explaining the situation at hand. Then, the players further the story as they explain how their characters overcome the challenges put in place by the narrator through the cards at their disposal. Each scene has a certain number of requisite points, which, once achieved by the players, the challenge is overcome. Then the narrator can begin working on a new scene.

As you can probably tell by now, Storium is a strange fusion of creative writing and classic pen-and-paper RPGs, with elements of collectible card games thrown in. According to the founder, the idea is to inspire a new generation of creative writers who've so far been reluctant to pursue their talent. It is a great place for newbies to gain more experience and for seasoned writers to experiment with their craft.

I first came across Storium in January 2019 but didn't have a chance to really get into it until March-April. Even now, I never actually contribute to these stories. Most of the time, I just read the stories that others have created. It's a great way to draw inspiration and improve your writing by absorbing the experience of others.

Have you played Storium? What's your impression of this unique storytelling game? Let me know in your comments!

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