About Protagonize

A brief history of Protagonize and its roots.

What is Protagonize?

"So," you're asking yourself. "What exactly is Protagonize all about?"

Protagonize.com is a multiple award-winning online writing community based out of Vancouver, BC, Canada, established in late December of 2007. It's owned and operated by Taunt Media. The site caters to both amateur and experienced authors interested in online collaborative creative writing, and is currently home to over 26,500 members from around the world.

Where it all started

Protagonize was originally devised as a lark, testing out a new technology platform with what was supposed to be a simple, fun idea. When the site launched in late 2007, it was dedicated completely to the (nearly) lost art of the addventure (yes, that's spelled right), a very specific type of collaborative fiction. Shortly after our initial launch, the site was expanded to support the creation of linear stories (now referred to as standard stories when writing on Protagonize), as well, based on user feedback. This significant change allowed the site to attract a much broader community of authors looking to hone and refine their creative talents. Since that time, many more updates and additions have been made to enhance our authors' experience on the site.

Linear stories are familiar to everyone, but you may be asking yourself: how exactly does an addventure work? Early forms of this on the web date back over a decade, when the now-defunct Snoot.com popularized a sub-site called "Choose Your Own Schizophrenia" in the mid-to-late '90s. Of course, this all dates back to the old Choose Your Own Adventure™ series that started back in 1979 and ran until 1998, published by Bantam Books.

To quote the wondrous Wikipedia (and to save us writing something that's already been explained better by someone else):

An addventure is a type of online interactive fiction that combines aspects of round-robin stories and Choose Your Own Adventure-style tales. Like a round-robin story, an addventure is a form of collaborative fiction in which many authors contribute to a story, each writing discrete segments. However, like a gamebook, the resulting narrative is non-linear, allowing authors to branch out in different directions after each segment of the story. The result is a continually growing work of hypertext fiction.

The idea to revamp the concept surfaced in mid-2007 while trying to come up with a good way to test out our new technology platform. The old web-based collaborative fiction implementations were always a lot of fun, but were either critically flawed or generally lacking in a variety of ways. Snoot.com was uncontrolled and organic. There was no moderation of any shape or form, and people tended to run amok, causing havoc and generally enjoying themselves in a chaotic sort of way. Protagonize began as an attempt to modernize the collaborative creative writing arena and inject a little Web 2.0 love to produce a better, more usable interface. Mix an underlying social network and that's where we stand today. So far, so good.

Where Protagonize is going

Since launching, Protagonize has transitioned gradually from what was originally conceived as a game-like environment to a more widespread collaborative writing community that encourages constructive feedback and critique. The site has won a variety of awards since its inception, mostly in the design and community development spheres. Most recently, Protagonize was a finalist at the 2009 SXSW Interactive Web Awards in the Community category. While we didn't win, it was great exposure for the site and it's been growing steadily since then.

We've recently launched a new groups & writing circles feature on the site that encourages discussion on various topics about creative writing, and allows the authors on the site to create their own custom groups and writing circles. We're hoping to attract existing real-life local writing communities and programs as well, and provide them with an online presence for their members on an already writing-oriented site, as opposed to using more generic social networking tools or platforms.

In the near future, we'll also be introducing a tiered subscription system chock full of additional features for members who'd like to upgrade to paid accounts. This system will help support ongoing and future development, and the continued addition of new features to the site.

Protagonize's future is bright, and we're ecstatic to have you here to be a part of it.

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