A quick guide to interactive YouTube videos

YouTube videos have come a long way since Evolution of Dance. Instead of just staring at the computer screen, a new crop of videos are encouraging users to interact with them by clicking on links embedded within the video. Interactive YouTube videos are being used to create games and quizzes and their use is only limited to the imagination of their creators.

First some examples of the videos, then on how to how they are created. Viewing each video on the YouTube site itself is highly recommended.

Barack, Paper, Scissors

Bboy Joker

2009 Oscars Interactive Picture Photo Hunt!

Super Mario Slots

Interactive Card Trick

YouTube Interactive Spelling Bee

Interactive YouTube videos function a lot like Choose Your Own Adventure books wherein the action comes to a crossroads and the viewer is left to make a choice to determine how the story continues.

The combined effect is a seemingly infinite number of choices, but for interactive YouTube videos it is in fact very finite: a separate video has to be created for each choice (Barack, Paper, Scissors has at least 140 different videos and thus at least 140 different outcomes).

The interactivity is created by overlaying annotations on top of the video. Annotations were previously used solely as captions or speech balloons leading viewer to another site for more information related to the video. Now they are transforming YouTube from a static video player to a tool for engaging the audience. Check out YouTube’s help section for more information on how to create annotations.

The uses of interactive videos by mainstream news organizations remain to be seen, but the technology is absolutely worth exploring. The most obvious use would be to create news games, but lets hear from you: how would you use interactive YouTube video? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Online news games are fun (and informative!)
Newspapers on YouTube: Dos and Don’ts
8 Interactive online projects that educate and captivate
Exploring the human body with Flash and video
Where to find the best in Flash journalism