Change Your Past, Your Present, Your Future: Interactive Narratives and Trauma in Bandersnatch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapter


For a television show that has often seemed to delight in shocking viewers since its very first episode in 2011, which, in case we needed reminding, featured the Prime Minister of Great Britain having carnal relations with a sus scrofa domesticus, Black Mirror saved one of its greatest surprises for 28th December 2018 with the release of the twentieth instalment in the series, Bandersnatch, directed by David Slade. While two of its previous episodes had centred around video games: the highly regarded dystopian vision of gamification en masse, “Fifteen Million Merits” (01.02), and the horror-inflected augmented reality tale of “Playtest” (03.02), in an unexpected turn of events for both Netflix and the creator of Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker, Bandersnatch was not just about video games, it was one. This chapter explores the significance of Bandersnatch as an intriguing combination of video game and film, an example of what many referred to as an ‘interactive movie’ or what Nitzan Ben Shaul called ‘hyper-narrative interactive cinema’ in his Hyper-narrative Interactive Cinema: Problems and Solutions (2008). The authors interrogate how far Bandersnatch emerges as a text immersed in some of the defining thematic elements of what we might call ‘the Black Mirror experience’, but also uses the interactive nature of the project in original and compelling ways connected to the protagonist’s experience of trauma which the audience or ‘interactors’ are forced to share.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThrough the Black Mirror
Subtitle of host publicationDeconstructing the Side Effects of the Digital Age
EditorsTerence McSweeney, Stuart Joy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-19458-1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2019


Cite this

McSweeney, T., & Joy, S. (2019). Change Your Past, Your Present, Your Future: Interactive Narratives and Trauma in Bandersnatch. In T. McSweeney, & S. Joy (Eds.), Through the Black Mirror: Deconstructing the Side Effects of the Digital Age (pp. 271-284). Palgrave Macmillan Ltd..