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A Netflix show asks viewers to sit in the director’s chair

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    An image from “The Adventures of Puss in Boots.” Netflix released an episode of the show that includes interactive elements.

It is choose your own adventure, Netflix style.

Netflix, the streaming service, on Tuesday released a new episode of the animated show “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” with an interactive twist. About a half-dozen times during the episode, viewers — most likely children — will be prompted to choose which plot point the show should follow. Each decision will send the story in a different direction.

At one point, for example, viewers must decide whether Puss will confront nice bears or angry bears. On a touch screen, a press of the finger will do the work; on a television, a remote control will be required.

The episode, called “Puss in Book,” will last 18 to 39 minutes (depending on which path viewers go down), with a decision coming every 2 to 4 minutes.

“They are used to pressing play on the remote, setting it down and then just leaning back on the couch and letting Netflix roll,” Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, director of product innovation at Netflix, said of viewers. “In this case, we actually need them to hold on to the remote. We don’t want it lost in the couch cushions. We need you to lean forward a little bit to engage with the choices.”

Although the streaming service has not made plans to feature this kind of interactive viewing in, say, a future season of “House of Cards,” the experiment could very well expand beyond children’s programming.

Netflix said this project was more than two years in the making. As the creative team behind “Puss in Boots” developed plot points, Netflix needed time to improve its technology.

Netflix will release another interactive episode next month involving its “Buddy Thunderstruck” series. Next year will bring an interactive episode of “Stretch Armstrong.”

And after that?

“As you can imagine, with two years of development, I’m really excited to see how our members engage with this,” Fisher said. “From there, we’ve built this tool set for our creators, and it’s ultimately about finding creators who want to tell complex stories in this way. We’ll see where things go.”

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