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New Ways to Tell Stories


Netflix is testing a new interactive technology where viewers choose the way their story unfolds. Is there a place for interactive storytelling in the attractions world? We asked the experts


Netflix is trialling new technology that enables viewers to play a part in choosing their own character arcs, plotlines and endings when they watch shows.

This type of interactivity and personalisation of experience is being used more often in attractions, too. But how far can interactive storytelling go in the world of attractions? Will every visitor someday be able to “choose their own adventure” inside a particular ride or attraction experience?

New and evolving technologies are opening up different avenues of exploration all the time. Virtual reality is one example of how technology is helping attractions tell stories in new ways and changing the manner in which audiences are interacting with the attractions themselves.

Will operators one day give visitors free rein over their experiences, equipping them with the ability to make narrative decisions in the way Netflix is doing? And would this be a good thing, when much of the magic of story is being taken on a surprising journey that has been expertly prepared for you?



Chris Durmick Principal, Attractions and Museums Thinkwell Group

 

Chris Durmick
 

Storytelling in location-based entertainment is unique because the audience doesn’t experience the story as a narrative with a beginning, middle and an end; rather, they absorb the story bit by bit as they move through the environment. A solid narrative provides the guiding principles for design choices, and it also helps visitors navigate through the experience and form an emotional bond with the place.

Every facet of a physical place presents an opportunity to tell the story and shape the world around them. When the details fit the story, the attraction just “feels right” and anything that doesn’t line up with that reality can pull the guest out of the world. So, it is critical that we as designers create as rich and logical a world as possible, using as many tools as are available.

Technology is just one of our tools. When applied with care, technology is a powerful way to create magic and suspend disbelief, but like magic, if the guest sees the gimmick, the illusion crumbles. Technology must either be invisible, or become an integral part of the story.

For example, the buzzworthy developments of VR and AR require equipment that is cumbersome – the headset requires lots of adjustment and places a physical barrier between visitors, their friends and the environment. But these very liabilities might become part of the experiential storytelling if the act of getting geared up and the isolation becomes seamless and relevant in the story (until this type of gear is no longer necessary).

Technology will continue to open new doors in the world of location-based entertainment, beyond VR and AR. We’ll see advances in media quality and delivery systems that allow us to take visitors further than ever before. High-tech ride and show control systems will continue to push the envelope and the integration of technology and analogue touchpoints will let visitors control the world in which they are immersed. They’ll be able to choose their own adventure and affect ride paths, show-action and media.

They will, with AR, be able to see ghosts, fantastic creatures, or shadows of history co-exist in the real world. Someday, they may even be able to shape-shift, obtain super-heroic powers or teleport from place to place with some as-yet undiscovered molecular scrambling device.


"Someday, visitors may be able to shape-shift, obtain super-heroic powers or teleport"



Paul Moreton Creative director Merlin Entertainments

 

Paul Moreton
 

At Merlin Magic Making, we believe the most successful attractions are the ones where guests feel totally immersed and have stepped into a world far from their everyday life. We are storytellers, obsessed with transporting people to the centre of the stories we tell. We are constantly trialling new ways to do this, and have discovered that by increasing interaction and personalistion we can often enhance the experience. However, it can also detract, so it’s a fine art to get it right.

Advances in technology are providing us with further tools to customise guests’ experiences. We find mixing traditional techniques with new ones is the most effective way to create something special.

For instance, our recent attraction at Thorpe Park, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, uses grand illusion, theming, live action and VR. This has enabled us to create different experiences each time people ride and gives us the ability to add new endings and story lines.

Our Ghostbusters attraction at Madame Tussaud’s New York also uses a mix of realistic theming and new technology, creating a personalised experience. The proposition is “Join the Ghostbusters and save NYC”. Guests get trained on types of ghosts, make Skype calls with psychic experts, test out equipment. Finally they catch Slimer in the Mercado Hotel. An upsell VR experience allows four friends to go even further into the story.

The imaginative power of young minds has helped us to create some very personalised attractions at our LEGOLAND locations. In Ninjago City Quest and Union Play Train Station, we give children story starters and equipment for them to create their own stories and endings.

Our live action attractions, like The Dungeons and Shrek’s Adventure, already provide numerous opportunities for in-depth storytelling and guest involvement. We are about to launch new shows which will incorporate more guest choices and different endings based on the choices they make.

I foresee continued growth in personalisation and interaction, where visitors will be able to choose almost every element of some experiences. However, it’s the power of story which transfixes consumers and story-telling will remain at the heart of everything we do at Merlin.


"I foresee that visitors will be able to choose almost every element of some experiences"



Christian Lachel Vice president / Senior Creative Director BRC Imagination Arts

 

Christian Lachel
 

The surprising answer is that this “next big thing” is just the latest wrinkle in the epic history of storytelling. Storytelling always has been and always will be an interactive “exchange of energy” between storyteller and audience. When Grok told the tribe how he killed that mammoth 30,000 years ago, he adjusted his narrative according to what the audience liked best.

Fairy and folk tales evolved over time, becoming leaner and more emotional through millions of re-tellings until they were finally written down in the 19th century. These tales evolved again when Walt Disney told them. When he made Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, he gathered his animators and told them the story every day for a year, improving it each time by adjusting to their reactions.

Virtually every comedian – including the entire cast of Saturday Night Live – has come up through the world of improv. Improv is pure interactivity with actors crafting sketches from the suggestions from the audience. The audience members probably grew up reading Choose Your Own Adventure books and play video games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, starring in an interactive adventure that’s different every time it’s played.

So we know our customers expect to be involved. They want to participate and to achieve a deeper sense of knowledge and engagement.

BRC has completed a guest experience for the Jameson’s Distillery Bow St in Dublin, Ireland (see page 86) and part of the story is dictated by the guest. Guests select distillery artefacts, and those artefacts come to life to reveal the Jameson’s heritage. The tour is different every time through this branching narrative approach.

Technology enhances the promise of interactivity. Imagine rides that respond in real time to the emotions of guests. Imagine shows that can shift in an instant based on the eye movements of guests. The one constant in this future is that attractions will always begin and end with the heart of the audience. All this interactivity will take place in the framework of a story grounded in fundamental human emotions. There will be heroes. There will be villains. There will be a quest than involves overcoming fear. Grok will slay the mammoth, and return to the tribe to tell the tale as everyone enjoys a feast.


"Imagine rides that respond in real time to your emotions. Imagine shows that shift based on your eye movements "



Aaron Bradbury VFX supervisor NSC Creative

 

Aaron Bradbury
 

The news that Netflix is going to implement technology to allow branching narratives sends me down two conflicting paths.

The cynical path stretches back through time and is littered with failed attempts and dead ends for media that has employed interactive and branching narratives. Interfilm is one example of a failure – that bears uncanny resemblance to the Netflix proposal – in which you go to the cinema and press buttons to control the plot.

The idea of pressing a button on a remote at key points of the story feels archaic to me. I can already feel the frustration at not having access to the option I really want. How many people would have let Eddard Stark live, never knowing how powerful his death would be?

But linear media loves to toy with the idea of interactive and branching narratives whether it be the setting for visitors to Westworld or the mindbending world of Rick and Morty – and interactive and branching narratives are very much present in the games industry.

The optimistic path is the feeling that, among the dead ends, there are many more avenues to explore. The fact that we keep trying suggests that deep down we know there is a way to make interactive narratives work meaningfully. The idea of interactive narrative is truly embedded in our consciousness. After all, it’s how we live our lives.

As I embark on my journey into multi-narrative experiences within VR, I hope there is a meaningful destination. I hope Netflix does come up with something that opens up a new way of telling stories.

It makes sense to avoid travelling down paths that are already full of dead ends, but nothing is more rewarding than exploring new avenues and finding that special place that was hidden behind the trees.


"The idea of interactive narrative is truly embedded in our consciousness. After all, it’s how we live our lives"

 



Given the choice, would you kill off Eddard Stark?
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AM2.jobs - Attractions Jobs & News
Attractions Management Magazine


CLICK HERE TO READ THE LATEST ISSUE ONLINE
 

Jobs . News . Products . Magazine  
Post your job online   Free sign up   Contact us
Ask an expert
New Ways to Tell Stories


Netflix is testing a new interactive technology where viewers choose the way their story unfolds. Is there a place for interactive storytelling in the attractions world? We asked the experts


Netflix is trialling new technology that enables viewers to play a part in choosing their own character arcs, plotlines and endings when they watch shows.

This type of interactivity and personalisation of experience is being used more often in attractions, too. But how far can interactive storytelling go in the world of attractions? Will every visitor someday be able to “choose their own adventure” inside a particular ride or attraction experience?

New and evolving technologies are opening up different avenues of exploration all the time. Virtual reality is one example of how technology is helping attractions tell stories in new ways and changing the manner in which audiences are interacting with the attractions themselves.

Will operators one day give visitors free rein over their experiences, equipping them with the ability to make narrative decisions in the way Netflix is doing? And would this be a good thing, when much of the magic of story is being taken on a surprising journey that has been expertly prepared for you?



Chris Durmick Principal, Attractions and Museums Thinkwell Group

 

Chris Durmick
 

Storytelling in location-based entertainment is unique because the audience doesn’t experience the story as a narrative with a beginning, middle and an end; rather, they absorb the story bit by bit as they move through the environment. A solid narrative provides the guiding principles for design choices, and it also helps visitors navigate through the experience and form an emotional bond with the place.

Every facet of a physical place presents an opportunity to tell the story and shape the world around them. When the details fit the story, the attraction just “feels right” and anything that doesn’t line up with that reality can pull the guest out of the world. So, it is critical that we as designers create as rich and logical a world as possible, using as many tools as are available.

Technology is just one of our tools. When applied with care, technology is a powerful way to create magic and suspend disbelief, but like magic, if the guest sees the gimmick, the illusion crumbles. Technology must either be invisible, or become an integral part of the story.

For example, the buzzworthy developments of VR and AR require equipment that is cumbersome – the headset requires lots of adjustment and places a physical barrier between visitors, their friends and the environment. But these very liabilities might become part of the experiential storytelling if the act of getting geared up and the isolation becomes seamless and relevant in the story (until this type of gear is no longer necessary).

Technology will continue to open new doors in the world of location-based entertainment, beyond VR and AR. We’ll see advances in media quality and delivery systems that allow us to take visitors further than ever before. High-tech ride and show control systems will continue to push the envelope and the integration of technology and analogue touchpoints will let visitors control the world in which they are immersed. They’ll be able to choose their own adventure and affect ride paths, show-action and media.

They will, with AR, be able to see ghosts, fantastic creatures, or shadows of history co-exist in the real world. Someday, they may even be able to shape-shift, obtain super-heroic powers or teleport from place to place with some as-yet undiscovered molecular scrambling device.


"Someday, visitors may be able to shape-shift, obtain super-heroic powers or teleport"



Paul Moreton Creative director Merlin Entertainments

 

Paul Moreton
 

At Merlin Magic Making, we believe the most successful attractions are the ones where guests feel totally immersed and have stepped into a world far from their everyday life. We are storytellers, obsessed with transporting people to the centre of the stories we tell. We are constantly trialling new ways to do this, and have discovered that by increasing interaction and personalistion we can often enhance the experience. However, it can also detract, so it’s a fine art to get it right.

Advances in technology are providing us with further tools to customise guests’ experiences. We find mixing traditional techniques with new ones is the most effective way to create something special.

For instance, our recent attraction at Thorpe Park, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, uses grand illusion, theming, live action and VR. This has enabled us to create different experiences each time people ride and gives us the ability to add new endings and story lines.

Our Ghostbusters attraction at Madame Tussaud’s New York also uses a mix of realistic theming and new technology, creating a personalised experience. The proposition is “Join the Ghostbusters and save NYC”. Guests get trained on types of ghosts, make Skype calls with psychic experts, test out equipment. Finally they catch Slimer in the Mercado Hotel. An upsell VR experience allows four friends to go even further into the story.

The imaginative power of young minds has helped us to create some very personalised attractions at our LEGOLAND locations. In Ninjago City Quest and Union Play Train Station, we give children story starters and equipment for them to create their own stories and endings.

Our live action attractions, like The Dungeons and Shrek’s Adventure, already provide numerous opportunities for in-depth storytelling and guest involvement. We are about to launch new shows which will incorporate more guest choices and different endings based on the choices they make.

I foresee continued growth in personalisation and interaction, where visitors will be able to choose almost every element of some experiences. However, it’s the power of story which transfixes consumers and story-telling will remain at the heart of everything we do at Merlin.


"I foresee that visitors will be able to choose almost every element of some experiences"



Christian Lachel Vice president / Senior Creative Director BRC Imagination Arts

 

Christian Lachel
 

The surprising answer is that this “next big thing” is just the latest wrinkle in the epic history of storytelling. Storytelling always has been and always will be an interactive “exchange of energy” between storyteller and audience. When Grok told the tribe how he killed that mammoth 30,000 years ago, he adjusted his narrative according to what the audience liked best.

Fairy and folk tales evolved over time, becoming leaner and more emotional through millions of re-tellings until they were finally written down in the 19th century. These tales evolved again when Walt Disney told them. When he made Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, he gathered his animators and told them the story every day for a year, improving it each time by adjusting to their reactions.

Virtually every comedian – including the entire cast of Saturday Night Live – has come up through the world of improv. Improv is pure interactivity with actors crafting sketches from the suggestions from the audience. The audience members probably grew up reading Choose Your Own Adventure books and play video games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, starring in an interactive adventure that’s different every time it’s played.

So we know our customers expect to be involved. They want to participate and to achieve a deeper sense of knowledge and engagement.

BRC has completed a guest experience for the Jameson’s Distillery Bow St in Dublin, Ireland (see page 86) and part of the story is dictated by the guest. Guests select distillery artefacts, and those artefacts come to life to reveal the Jameson’s heritage. The tour is different every time through this branching narrative approach.

Technology enhances the promise of interactivity. Imagine rides that respond in real time to the emotions of guests. Imagine shows that can shift in an instant based on the eye movements of guests. The one constant in this future is that attractions will always begin and end with the heart of the audience. All this interactivity will take place in the framework of a story grounded in fundamental human emotions. There will be heroes. There will be villains. There will be a quest than involves overcoming fear. Grok will slay the mammoth, and return to the tribe to tell the tale as everyone enjoys a feast.


"Imagine rides that respond in real time to your emotions. Imagine shows that shift based on your eye movements "



Aaron Bradbury VFX supervisor NSC Creative

 

Aaron Bradbury
 

The news that Netflix is going to implement technology to allow branching narratives sends me down two conflicting paths.

The cynical path stretches back through time and is littered with failed attempts and dead ends for media that has employed interactive and branching narratives. Interfilm is one example of a failure – that bears uncanny resemblance to the Netflix proposal – in which you go to the cinema and press buttons to control the plot.

The idea of pressing a button on a remote at key points of the story feels archaic to me. I can already feel the frustration at not having access to the option I really want. How many people would have let Eddard Stark live, never knowing how powerful his death would be?

But linear media loves to toy with the idea of interactive and branching narratives whether it be the setting for visitors to Westworld or the mindbending world of Rick and Morty – and interactive and branching narratives are very much present in the games industry.

The optimistic path is the feeling that, among the dead ends, there are many more avenues to explore. The fact that we keep trying suggests that deep down we know there is a way to make interactive narratives work meaningfully. The idea of interactive narrative is truly embedded in our consciousness. After all, it’s how we live our lives.

As I embark on my journey into multi-narrative experiences within VR, I hope there is a meaningful destination. I hope Netflix does come up with something that opens up a new way of telling stories.

It makes sense to avoid travelling down paths that are already full of dead ends, but nothing is more rewarding than exploring new avenues and finding that special place that was hidden behind the trees.


"The idea of interactive narrative is truly embedded in our consciousness. After all, it’s how we live our lives"

 



Given the choice, would you kill off Eddard Stark?
 
 
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2017

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
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Ask an expert
New Ways to Tell Stories


Netflix is testing a new interactive technology where viewers choose the way their story unfolds. Is there a place for interactive storytelling in the attractions world? We asked the experts


Netflix is trialling new technology that enables viewers to play a part in choosing their own character arcs, plotlines and endings when they watch shows.

This type of interactivity and personalisation of experience is being used more often in attractions, too. But how far can interactive storytelling go in the world of attractions? Will every visitor someday be able to “choose their own adventure” inside a particular ride or attraction experience?

New and evolving technologies are opening up different avenues of exploration all the time. Virtual reality is one example of how technology is helping attractions tell stories in new ways and changing the manner in which audiences are interacting with the attractions themselves.

Will operators one day give visitors free rein over their experiences, equipping them with the ability to make narrative decisions in the way Netflix is doing? And would this be a good thing, when much of the magic of story is being taken on a surprising journey that has been expertly prepared for you?



Chris Durmick Principal, Attractions and Museums Thinkwell Group

 

Chris Durmick
 

Storytelling in location-based entertainment is unique because the audience doesn’t experience the story as a narrative with a beginning, middle and an end; rather, they absorb the story bit by bit as they move through the environment. A solid narrative provides the guiding principles for design choices, and it also helps visitors navigate through the experience and form an emotional bond with the place.

Every facet of a physical place presents an opportunity to tell the story and shape the world around them. When the details fit the story, the attraction just “feels right” and anything that doesn’t line up with that reality can pull the guest out of the world. So, it is critical that we as designers create as rich and logical a world as possible, using as many tools as are available.

Technology is just one of our tools. When applied with care, technology is a powerful way to create magic and suspend disbelief, but like magic, if the guest sees the gimmick, the illusion crumbles. Technology must either be invisible, or become an integral part of the story.

For example, the buzzworthy developments of VR and AR require equipment that is cumbersome – the headset requires lots of adjustment and places a physical barrier between visitors, their friends and the environment. But these very liabilities might become part of the experiential storytelling if the act of getting geared up and the isolation becomes seamless and relevant in the story (until this type of gear is no longer necessary).

Technology will continue to open new doors in the world of location-based entertainment, beyond VR and AR. We’ll see advances in media quality and delivery systems that allow us to take visitors further than ever before. High-tech ride and show control systems will continue to push the envelope and the integration of technology and analogue touchpoints will let visitors control the world in which they are immersed. They’ll be able to choose their own adventure and affect ride paths, show-action and media.

They will, with AR, be able to see ghosts, fantastic creatures, or shadows of history co-exist in the real world. Someday, they may even be able to shape-shift, obtain super-heroic powers or teleport from place to place with some as-yet undiscovered molecular scrambling device.


"Someday, visitors may be able to shape-shift, obtain super-heroic powers or teleport"



Paul Moreton Creative director Merlin Entertainments

 

Paul Moreton
 

At Merlin Magic Making, we believe the most successful attractions are the ones where guests feel totally immersed and have stepped into a world far from their everyday life. We are storytellers, obsessed with transporting people to the centre of the stories we tell. We are constantly trialling new ways to do this, and have discovered that by increasing interaction and personalistion we can often enhance the experience. However, it can also detract, so it’s a fine art to get it right.

Advances in technology are providing us with further tools to customise guests’ experiences. We find mixing traditional techniques with new ones is the most effective way to create something special.

For instance, our recent attraction at Thorpe Park, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, uses grand illusion, theming, live action and VR. This has enabled us to create different experiences each time people ride and gives us the ability to add new endings and story lines.

Our Ghostbusters attraction at Madame Tussaud’s New York also uses a mix of realistic theming and new technology, creating a personalised experience. The proposition is “Join the Ghostbusters and save NYC”. Guests get trained on types of ghosts, make Skype calls with psychic experts, test out equipment. Finally they catch Slimer in the Mercado Hotel. An upsell VR experience allows four friends to go even further into the story.

The imaginative power of young minds has helped us to create some very personalised attractions at our LEGOLAND locations. In Ninjago City Quest and Union Play Train Station, we give children story starters and equipment for them to create their own stories and endings.

Our live action attractions, like The Dungeons and Shrek’s Adventure, already provide numerous opportunities for in-depth storytelling and guest involvement. We are about to launch new shows which will incorporate more guest choices and different endings based on the choices they make.

I foresee continued growth in personalisation and interaction, where visitors will be able to choose almost every element of some experiences. However, it’s the power of story which transfixes consumers and story-telling will remain at the heart of everything we do at Merlin.


"I foresee that visitors will be able to choose almost every element of some experiences"



Christian Lachel Vice president / Senior Creative Director BRC Imagination Arts

 

Christian Lachel
 

The surprising answer is that this “next big thing” is just the latest wrinkle in the epic history of storytelling. Storytelling always has been and always will be an interactive “exchange of energy” between storyteller and audience. When Grok told the tribe how he killed that mammoth 30,000 years ago, he adjusted his narrative according to what the audience liked best.

Fairy and folk tales evolved over time, becoming leaner and more emotional through millions of re-tellings until they were finally written down in the 19th century. These tales evolved again when Walt Disney told them. When he made Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, he gathered his animators and told them the story every day for a year, improving it each time by adjusting to their reactions.

Virtually every comedian – including the entire cast of Saturday Night Live – has come up through the world of improv. Improv is pure interactivity with actors crafting sketches from the suggestions from the audience. The audience members probably grew up reading Choose Your Own Adventure books and play video games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, starring in an interactive adventure that’s different every time it’s played.

So we know our customers expect to be involved. They want to participate and to achieve a deeper sense of knowledge and engagement.

BRC has completed a guest experience for the Jameson’s Distillery Bow St in Dublin, Ireland (see page 86) and part of the story is dictated by the guest. Guests select distillery artefacts, and those artefacts come to life to reveal the Jameson’s heritage. The tour is different every time through this branching narrative approach.

Technology enhances the promise of interactivity. Imagine rides that respond in real time to the emotions of guests. Imagine shows that can shift in an instant based on the eye movements of guests. The one constant in this future is that attractions will always begin and end with the heart of the audience. All this interactivity will take place in the framework of a story grounded in fundamental human emotions. There will be heroes. There will be villains. There will be a quest than involves overcoming fear. Grok will slay the mammoth, and return to the tribe to tell the tale as everyone enjoys a feast.


"Imagine rides that respond in real time to your emotions. Imagine shows that shift based on your eye movements "



Aaron Bradbury VFX supervisor NSC Creative

 

Aaron Bradbury
 

The news that Netflix is going to implement technology to allow branching narratives sends me down two conflicting paths.

The cynical path stretches back through time and is littered with failed attempts and dead ends for media that has employed interactive and branching narratives. Interfilm is one example of a failure – that bears uncanny resemblance to the Netflix proposal – in which you go to the cinema and press buttons to control the plot.

The idea of pressing a button on a remote at key points of the story feels archaic to me. I can already feel the frustration at not having access to the option I really want. How many people would have let Eddard Stark live, never knowing how powerful his death would be?

But linear media loves to toy with the idea of interactive and branching narratives whether it be the setting for visitors to Westworld or the mindbending world of Rick and Morty – and interactive and branching narratives are very much present in the games industry.

The optimistic path is the feeling that, among the dead ends, there are many more avenues to explore. The fact that we keep trying suggests that deep down we know there is a way to make interactive narratives work meaningfully. The idea of interactive narrative is truly embedded in our consciousness. After all, it’s how we live our lives.

As I embark on my journey into multi-narrative experiences within VR, I hope there is a meaningful destination. I hope Netflix does come up with something that opens up a new way of telling stories.

It makes sense to avoid travelling down paths that are already full of dead ends, but nothing is more rewarding than exploring new avenues and finding that special place that was hidden behind the trees.


"The idea of interactive narrative is truly embedded in our consciousness. After all, it’s how we live our lives"

 



Given the choice, would you kill off Eddard Stark?
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2017

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS