Netflix’s Black Mirror has a history with gaming. Series creator Charlie Brooker and several other staffers wrote about games early in their careers. This eventually led to series episodes like Playtest and USS Callister, which explore the potential horrors of virtual realities. There’s an obvious love shown for the medium in that episode, and it seems like it’s just the beginning. Premiering on the service tomorrow, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a full-length movie set in the early days of PC gaming.
Bandersnatch follows a programmer trying to translate an epic fantasy novel to the limited technology of 80s gaming. The author of the book eventually became an infamous murderer. Despite this, the programmer still holds his work in high regard. When a coworker encourages him to find a high to get through the work, the programmer starts to question what’s happening around him. The author starts speaking to him through old footage, and the world closes in on him. Or it doesn’t.
The most intriguing part about Bandersnatch is that it’s not just about games, it may just be a game. We already know that at least one episode in the next batch of Black Mirror will be Telltale-style, but we don’t know exactly which one. Considering that Netflix is dubbing Bandersnatch a “Black Mirror event” rather than a film, this might just be it. Either way, with a reported five hours of footage filmed just for this one episode, it’s going to either be an interactive experience or a marathon of epic proportions.
Netflix already has several interactive programs in its library, including an adaption of Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode. If this is indeed an interactive experience, it would be an interesting step for several reasons. Not only does it prove the 90s right and bring FMV back to the cutting edge of gaming, but it also previews our streaming future. You won’t be able to buy Bandersnatch on a shelf, it’s an experience that only really works thanks to streaming. With the way Microsoft and Google are heading, this could be a look into the future, which fits Charlie Brooker’s work to a tee.