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AI and the future of storytelling at TED 2024

Kylan Gibbs
June 12, 2024
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Like most kids, I loved immersing myself in fantastical worlds. Whether creating stories with my Spiderman action figures, playing Final Fantasy or Halo, or reading Lord of the Rings, there was always something to explore within the screens or pages. I always wished I didn’t have to say goodbye to my favorite characters, and that I could take a more creative role in shaping the stories and worlds I loved.

With the kinds of AI agents that Inworld enables, audiences can now step beyond the script and explore uncharted experiences. They’re set to transform stories from scripted narratives to worlds that the audience can co-create in video games and other interactive experiences. The impact of that transformation will be seen across a number of industries including entertainment, advertising, publishing, and gaming. 

In March, I spoke about the potential of AI for storytelling at TED2024: The Brave and the Brilliant. With the video of my talk being released this week, I want to share with you the opportunities and possibilities AI offers creatives – and how this will impact the future of storytelling. 

TED2024: AI as a canvas for imagination

During my TED Talk, I hinted at what’s possible now – and what will be possible in the future with AI. 

To summarize: 

  • Today, even in the most immersive roleplaying games - players are always left feeling that something is missing. The core mechanics of games can’t currently replicate dynamic or ‘social’ forms of interaction with characters or environments. 
  • Rather than being nudged from one scripted interaction to another, AI offers the potential for real-time responsiveness – where every action has immediate and lasting consequences unique to the distinct choices each player makes.
  • Until now, it was challenging to pre-script meaningful and unique consequences for every variation of player behaviors. AI agents overcome this, allowing the world and characters to come alive – and inviting the audience to be co-creators of the story. 

For TED, Inworld partnered with Operative Games to build an interactive experience called Storyweaver to demonstrate the power of AI for storytelling. The goal was to replicate the experience I wish I’d had as a kid – the ability to interact immersively with my toys. In the demo, you meet Calub as he’s rummaging through your old toys. He asks you to tell him about your old action figure when suddenly the action figure comes to life and starts talking to you both. The experience leverages Inworld’s Multi-Agent feature to orchestrate AI-to-AI and AI-to-human conversations.

Photo credit: Gilberto Tadday / TED

Photo credit: Gilberto Tadday / TED

AI agents also don’t just allow you to talk to your favorite characters, they’re also able to act autonomously to accomplish complex multi-step tasks without human intervention. The AI agents in Storyweaver bring characters to life with their own personalities, interests, goals, and emotions. They’re able to interact naturally with the environment while displaying depth, realism, and the ability to reason. 

But AI agents can’t autonomously create a fully-realized story or world themselves without the input of a creative director or narrative designer. They augment human creativity and make entirely new ways of storytelling possible. 

The Storyweaver demo is just one example of combining human imagination and artificial intelligence to produce richer narratives. But AI also offers the potential for new forms, game mechanics, and storytelling modalities by giving the audience the power to co-create their own story. AI storytelling doesn’t just bring characters to life, it also creates dynamic worlds where choices have meaningful consequences in the story – while still being groundedin a coherent narrative that is true to the author’s vision.  

What the future of storytelling looks like

The future of storytelling isn’t just expected to make your childhood dream of interacting with the characters you love a reality – it will also allow you to participate in the creation of the story in a way that’s never been possible before. 

Having narrative agency over experiences has been found to increase enjoyment and other engagement metrics like flow, session length, and replayability. Experiments in cognitive psychology have repeatedly found a connection between a person’s sense of agency and their experience of a flow state in interactive experiences like video games. 

There are infinite ways to use AI to create novel interactive experiences – from extended digital experiences for movies to educational storytelling and brand activations. This is a new way to tell stories, where narratives are not just told, but lived, and where each interaction can lead to unique, memorable outcomes. 

It’s early days, but we’ve seen glimpses of this future in experiences like Droid Maker (a prototype created in collaboration with ILM Immersive that was demoed during Disney Demo Day 2022), Niantic’s Wol, NVIDIA’s Covert Protocol, Chronic Cellar’s AR sommelier, and Ubisoft’s NEO NPCs

Extending human creative potential with AI

While there are a lot of great task-focused applications of AI, I genuinely love working with creative teams across games, media and marketing who are bringing worlds, IP and brands to life. Every new engagement brings new insight into how far AI can extend human creative potential.

AI agents aren’t limited to characters. They can go beyond dialogue to do things like analyze customer insights, understand or generate multimodal content like images and videos, or generate new content at scale. In video games, AI agents can shape core mechanics, control in-game environments and objects, manage complex physics simulations, and adaptively narratives and quests to players’ unique behavior.

At Inworld, we help game studios, entertainment companies, advertising agencies, and brands integrate AI agents for the next generation of interactive media and games. We’ve worked or have partnerships with companies like Ubisoft, Xbox, NVIDIA, Niantic, NetEase Games, Shiseido, LGU+, Comcast NBC Universal, and more.

We’d love to help you explore the potential of interactive storytelling with AI agents. To get started, try designing a character in our Inworld Studio or get in touch for custom plans, development, and support for use cases in: 

Join us for our storytelling webinar!

With AI agents set to transform stories from scripted narratives to worlds that the viewer can co-create, the impact of that transformation will be seen across a number of industries including entertainment, advertising, publishing, and video games. In this webinar, learn from creative studios like Liquid City and Rock, Paper, Reality who are using Inworld's AI agents to create brand and educational experiences that push the bounds of what’s possible in storytelling. 

  • Title: How Creatives and Brands Are Using Inworld for Storytelling 
  • When: June 26, 2024 
  • Time: 11am PT

Register for the webinar.

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