Integrated Storytelling by Design

Integrated Storytelling by Design: new principles for the development of experience worlds

Klaus Sommer Paulsen – founder and CEO of the Danish creative agency AdventureLAB, developer of design concepts, speaker and “storyteller” – is the author of the 2021 book entitled “Integrated Storytelling by Design – Concepts, Principles and Methods for New Narrative Dimensions” (Routledge). In the book’s seven thematic sections, creative minds looking to explore the evolution of the art of storytelling and new approaches to bringing content to life through an inclusive, audience-centred design approach will find a well-structured toolkit for developing and bringing together stories and the world of experience.

The aim of integrated storytelling is to make a story actually tangible in a multidimensional way, enabling visitors to a theme park to immerse themselves in the full depth of a narrative universe. At present, theme worlds and attractions often lack this immersive element, especially if the story underlying a themed area is understood merely as its source of inspiration. As a result, the potential of a story world in terms of activating audience appeal and loyalty to the destination or brand is not fully exploited. In Paulsen's view there needs to be a greater convergence of story and experience so that new narrative dimensions emerge, which in turn can be exploited by integrative design practices.

The seven content blocks of the book focus on the sub-areas of story, design, audience, experience, convergence, creation and application. In each content block the basic theoretical approaches are first described and the relevant terms are defined. The reader encounters concepts such as “audience journeys”, “audience modalities”, “micro stories” and “micro experiences”. At the same time the content blocks include case studies on the successful implementation of the theoretical principles they describe, while the last part of the book is exclusively dedicated to the practical application of new design approaches for bringing together story and experience.

Paulsen provides examples not just from the world of theme parks but also, for example, from the gaming industry and the retail sector. He concludes with a forecast of how the evolution of storytelling will develop in the future and will cut across media, platforms, technologies and organisations.

The author emphasises that the contents of his book don't provide a self-contained theoretical construct, but are instead intended to be a structured toolkit and source of inspiration for creative practitioners, demonstrating new, audience-centred design approaches to the development of multi-dimensional story worlds. On an accompanying website, which will be regularly supplemented, interested parties will find additional examples of current applications of the principles presented in the book.

Conclusion: “Integrated Storytelling by Design” is a comprehensive toolbox for storytellers and designers wishing to enable the in-depth experience of narrative content, while exploring new ways to actively shape the further evolution of storytelling. The numerous case studies make it easy to understand the theoretical principles presented. In view of the rapid development of new technologies and the resulting possibilities for appealing to target groups and activating brands, Paulsen's book is a highly topical work which offers inspiration and guidelines for getting to grips with new design approaches.