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Evaluating the User Experience of Interactive Digital Narrative

  • HKU University of the Arts Utrecht
  • HKU University of the Arts Utrecht

Abstract and Figures

Many virtual and alternate reality projects create narrative experiences in the digital medium. These are Interactive Digital Narratives (IDN), a form of expression at the intersection of different artistic approaches, research fields (humanities, computer science), and emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, virtual reality, generative content), with a wide potential for different applications. A key element towards fulfilling this potential is the creation of a satisfying user experience. In this paper we present a toolbox for the evaluation of the user experience that connects which enables the systematic and quantitative study of IDN user experiences. This approach connects research in psychology [27] based on Entertainment Theory [5] with a humanities-based perspective. Specifically, we map Murray's influential theoretical framework [22] to Roth's empirical dimensions and thus connect an analytical framework to empirical research.
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Evaluating the User Experience
of Interactive Digital Narrative
Christian Roth
University of the Arts Utrecht
Lange Viestraat 2b, Postbox 1520
3500 BM Utrecht, Netherland
Hartmut Koenitz
University of the Arts Utrecht
Lange Viestraat 2b, Postbox 1520
3500 BM Utrecht, Netherland
Many virtual and alternate reality projects create narrative
experiences in the digital medium. These are Interactive Digital
Narratives (IDN), a form of expression at the intersection of
different artistic approaches, research fields (humanities,
computer science), and emerging technologies (e.g., artificial
intelligence, virtual reality, generative content), with a wide
potential for different applications. A key element towards
fulfilling this potential is the creation of a satisfying user
experience. In this paper we present a toolbox for the evaluation
of the user experience that connects which enables the systematic
and quantitative study of IDN user experiences. This approach
connects research in psychology [27] based on Entertainment
Theory [5] with a humanities-based perspective. Specifically, we
map Murray’s influential theoretical framework [22] to Roth’s
empirical dimensions and thus connect an analytical framework to
empirical research.
General Terms
Measurement, Design, Reliability, Experimentation, Theory,
Interactive Digital Narrative; User Experience; Empirical
Evaluation; Agency; Immersion; Transformation
Many virtual and alternate reality projects create narrative
experiences. In this sense they are Interactive Digital Narratives.
(IDN). As an expressive form in the digital medium, IDN affords
dramatic agency for interactors, and the ability to intentionally
influence salient aspects (character development, sequencing,
outcome etc.) of a narrative. Interactors are thus able to participate
in the creation of their own narrative experience, mediated by a
computational system. It is crucial to understand that IDN is not
merely an enhanced version of established formats such as the
novel, the movie, or the stage drama, but instead a form of
narrative expression in the digital interactive medium that plays a
part in the effort of Inventing a Medium [23]. Thus IDN is
envisioned to be fundamentally interactive in contrast to attempts
at interactivizing traditional narrative structures [16].
The endeavor of creating the novel form of IDN has been pursued
for over three decades [18]. So far, quantitative evaluation of user
experiences has not been a focus. Recently, a need for
generalizable design conventions has been identified [15, 23]. It is
in this respect that quantitative evaluation (together with
qualitative insights) can offer crucial insights by means of reliable
and objective analysis of design approaches and resulting
interactor experiences.
In this paper, we present a toolbox for user experience research
that can be used in experimental setups to identify effective design
principles and potential for improvement. Since IDN can take
many forms, the goal was for a robust measurement toolset that is
able to compare user experiences across different technological
and design approaches. In addition, this toolset can evaluate a
wide range of user experience concepts.
Janet Murray’s influential framework [22] for digital media
consists of affordances (procedural, participatory, spatial and
encyclopedic) and experiential aesthetic qualities (agency,
immersion and transformation). Her perspective thus provides
comprehensive but abstract top-level categories to describe the
user experience in IDN, which are often referred to by digital
entertainment researchers (e.g. [21, 30], but also practitioners (e.g.
in the game industry magazine Gamasutra)).
In contrast, our measurement toolset developed on the basis of
the earlier work of the first author [27]is located at the concrete
level of empirical research. We understand Murray’s view as a
top-down approach that complements our empirical bottom-up
perspective. By mapping these measurement dimensions (Fig. 1)
to Murray’s abstract categories (Fig. 2) we seize an opportunity to
bridge the gap between theoretical and empirical research. In the
process, Murray’s experiential categories might gain needed
concretization, while the user experience dimensions would
acquire a more comprehensive level useful in communication with
the wider research community and interactive design
2.1 Terminology
IDN involves several academic disciplines, which means to
acknowledge different traditions. A particular difficulty for
interdisciplinary work is in the etymology of specific vocabulary.
Confusingly, the same term might carry a considerably different
meaning. In our concrete case, we acknowledge the differences in
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the term “immersion” Murray uses the word in a more general
sense of all aspects that let an interactor feel as being transported
to a different reality [22], while in our psychologically-oriented
perspective [27], immersion is only a technical quality of virtual
environments, which is complemented by presence to account for
the perceptible aspects. Thus, in order to connect the two
approaches, decisions have to be made in regards to which
meaning will be adopted for a combined model. This also might
mean to re-name and re-locate existing categories. In the concrete
case of immersion, we adopt Murray’s more general use and re-
locate the technical aspects of immersion (e.g. sensoric input and
system feedback) as part of the usability dimension. Similarly, we
emphasize eudaimonic appreciation as a more inclusive term over
aesthetic pleasantness, which we have used in our earlier work.
Figure 1. Roth’s original categories
We evaluate the IDN user experience on 12 dimensions, which we
group under Murray’s experiential qualities of agency, immersion
and transformation. Fig. 2 shows the categorization of the user
experience dimensions, ranging from agency to immersion and
Usability, for instance, is an important prerequisite, which
will have direct impact on the experience of agency. However, we
understand this mapping as flexible for example some user
dimensions might variously align with either the broader concepts
of agency or immersion. Our toolbox in principle also allows for
an influential and reciprocal relationship between different
categories an interactor who experiences agency is
simultaneously more immersed and transformation also deepens
immersion while being depended on the former categories.
Based on these conceptual dimensions, one of the authors has
developed a set of self-report scales [27]. For those dimensions
that were already addressed in past research on video games or
conventional entertainment, he adopts existing scales (usability
[4], flow [8], effectance [13], presence [19], eudaimonic
appreciation [26, 28], autonomy [29]) and he also partially adapts
them to the specific media context. For the remaining dimensions,
he introduces new scales based on the literature on the subject.
This resulted in a set of 14 user experience dimensions, which in
our adapted model is narrowed to 12 (although affect has two
distinct dimensions). A concrete application of this measurement
set is by asking users to fill in questionnaires immediately after
their experience of an interactive narrative. In the following
sections, we will describe these experience dimensions in more
Figure 2. Dimensions of user experience
3.1 Agency
Murray defines agency as the satisfying power to take meaningful
actions [22]. Her use of the term is closely related to the concept
of effectance in psychological research, the sense of active
participation by intentionally influencing a game or story world
[13]. For our measurement toolbox we identify a number of
different dimensions of agency: usability, local/global effectance
and autonomy.
3.1.1 Usability
System usability refers to the interface design of a given
application. While usability is a precondition for any enjoyable
user experience, it does not exist in any absolute sense and can
only be defined with reference to particular contexts and
measured by the appropriateness to that context [4]. For IDN,
usability can refer to experiences with the hardware (mobile,
desktop, VR system) and the software interface (e.g. regarding
interaction design). Brooke [4] discusses usability as specific to
any given system. A certain technique that has been shown to
work very well for one system does not necessarily work the same
for a different system with different users and a different context.
Hence, usability should be seen as a subjective evaluation. System
usability is crucial for the interaction experience and therefore
assumed to influence perceived effectance, autonomy and
satisfaction of user expectations. Higher values of system
usability mean less frustration for the user and are therefore linked
to higher levels of enjoyment and positive emotional states.
3.1.2 Local and global effectance
Effectance is about the effect a chosen action has, e.g. how
meaningful it is for the narrative progression. We approach
effectance from the perspective of Self-Determination Theory
(SDT [9]). SDT is an overarching theory about the motivation of
actions, especially intrinsic motivation. According to SDT, people
are motivated to pursue actions that satisfy their three
fundamental intrinsic needs for autonomy, competence, and social
relatedness. Actions that satisfy these needs are intrinsically
enjoyable. Ryan et al. [29] have applied a SDT for the analysis of
the related phenomenon of video games. From the viewpoint of
the SDT [9], effectance can be seen as the satisfaction of the
competence need.
We distinguish two levels of the effectance dimension:
Local effectance: Player actions and decisions on a local level
have immediate effect on a particular situation or plot part within
the overarching narrative. Often local effectance focuses on what
the user can do in a particular scene and environment.
Global effectance: Player influence on the overall structure and
evolvement of a story, also including delayed consequences and
the ending. User decisions can have a strong impact in the course
and progression of a narrative, leading to a completely different
Generating experiences of effectance relies on the feedback the
system is providing. Giving feedback about local effectance is
relatively easy since responses can be provided immediately after
the user action. In contrast, giving feedback about global
effectance is much more complex: Responses will only become
visible as the narrative evolves, and many user actions may have
been recorded between a decisive action and the system response.
In addition, a particular systems response might be the result of an
accumulation of many minor actions, which are only significant in
aggregate. Notably, a key feature of IDN is the influence that
users have on delayed, longer-term consequences. Making users
aware of this aspect is therefore crucial to the experience of IDN.
However, effectance only works in moderation. Too much of it
can hamper other enjoyable experiences. If a player is too
effective, the perceived challenge could be reduced to the point of
boredom (see flow experience). Furthermore, an IDN that yields
all control to the interactor might evoke much less curiosity and
suspense, leading to a less enjoyable experience.
3.1.3 Autonomy
As part of Self-Determination Theory [Deci & Ryan], autonomy
is regarded as a basic need of human beings that drives intrinsic
motivation: we want to be free to choose. Autonomy as an
intrinsic need can also be satisfied within interactive narrative
worlds. With regards to IDN, the concept of autonomy describes
the freedom to choose from a large set of options without feeling
‘pushed’ in one direction. In contrast to effectance, autonomy is
concerned with the amount and quality of available options to
influence a narrative. Similar to effectance, this category is also
problematic, since more autonomy does not always result in a
more pleasurable experience. On one end of the spectrum users
will feel ledand unable to exert meaningful influence over the
narrative. On the other end, users might get lost in too many
3.2 Immersion
Immersion exists on a perceptual (flow, presence) and narrative
level (role-identification, believability, curiosity, suspense).
Murray describes immersion as “participatory activity” while
“being surrounded by a completely other reality […] that takes
over all of our attention” [22]. From a psychology-focused
perspective, immersion is the ability to produce presence, the
sensation of being there, being a part of the mediated environment
[12]. As we explained earlier, our usage foregrounds Murray’s
more general use of the term.
3.2.1 Flow
Interactors experiencing flow are strongly engaged in their
activity and succeed in blocking out any external input that could
distract them. They find themselves resolving a sequence of tasks
that is exactly as difficult as they can handle with full dedication,
and this experiential state is found highly pleasant in many
situations [8]. Therefore, interactors experiencing flow will most
likely experience enjoyment as well.
Flow happens if a state in the middle between boredom and
anxiety is achieved. Tasks that are perceived as being too easy and
not challenging can lead to disinterest and boredom, while tasks,
which are too demanding can evoke frustration and stress.
Usually, flow cannot be sustained unless challenge and skills
continue to match. Participating in an IDN by making decisions
and pushing a narrative forward can be construed as a task-type of
activity; especially since most IDN applications set rules and
limits to what users can decide on and do. If the timing and
difficulty of engagement with the narrative will lead to flow,
interactors will feel immersed in their participatory activities.
However, in practice, IDN designers face several distinct
challenges connected to flow. While the overall task for the
interactor is to lead her character through the narrative
progression, the specific subtasks might not be obvious and
actually might need to be somewhat obscure to maintain curiosity
and create suspense. Consequently, the feedback provided by
current systems, may not be as obvious as in video games. This
means that interactors often do not know what actions will lead to
specific outcomes, or whether their actions have any influence at
all. In addition, maintaining flow through a steadily increasing
challenge to keep up with user skills a recipe that many video
games follow does not easily fit with the concept of narrative
engagement. However, if a system is capable of presenting an
engaging narrative and interface while giving the right amount of
control, the interactor will very likely focus on the story world
with deep involvement and enjoyment.
In regards to connections with other dimensions, interactors of
IDN who experience flow will more easily experience presence in
the story world. Simultaneously, flow (as the experience of high
competence) is also related to the effectance dimension of agency.
3.2.2 Presence
The concept of presence describes the sense of being present in a
mediated (story-)world, which implies being engaged, absorbed
by content and feeling as if transported to the story world. In this
state, it feels as if the narrative comes to life, as if characters
really exist, and as if the experience is not mediated [19]. The
concept of presence can be subdivided into three different main
types [19]: 1) Spatial presence, the illusion of being physically
present in a mediated space or room. 2) Social presence, the
illusion of being together with a mediated person, and 3) Self-
presence, the illusion of the self-identity being inside a mediated
world. Presence is also connected to believability and agency.
Lee [19] argues that the perception of social presence occurs when
users successfully imagine intelligent social actors while using
simulation technologies or media. The experiments by Lee and
Nass [20] showed that character believability (match between
perceived personality of voice and textual content) is an important
factor in this regard. Witmer and Singer [32] suggested that
presence also depends on the level of user involvement, which
they define as “a consequence of focusing one’s energy and
attention on a coherent set of stimuli or meaningfully related
activities and events” (p. 227). Through direct engagement with
the simulated environment, interactors feel as if they are a part of
that environment. Witmer and Singer [32] argue that this kind of
perception is unique to interactive virtual environments. In other
words, increasing the sense of agency can result in a stronger
perception of presence as well. Overall, the perception of being in
the story world will depend on its ability to hold our interest and
the satisfying interaction with the environment and its characters.
3.2.3 Believability
Bates [2] claimed that “one of the keys to an effective virtual
world is for the user to be able to suspend disbelief” in line with
Coleridge’s famous pronunciation of this principle [6]. However,
Murray [22] suggests that creators of interactive narrative
experiences instead need to enable interactors to actively create
belief (in contrast to Coleridge’s more passive principle):
“Because of our desire to experience immersion, we focus our
attention on the enveloping world and we use our intelligence to
reinforce rather than to question the reality of the experience”.
Suspension of disbelief depends on the verisimilitude of plot and
characters. The active creation of belief requires a reactive
environment in which the interactor experiences agency, while the
narrative evolves in a plausible way and characters react in a
credible manner.
Interactors judge fictional characters on an affective level, by
showing empathy, and on a cognitive level by assessing their
actions in relation to the themes and messages of the narrative
[10]. The behavior of non-player characters (NPCs) and the
social-emotional responses they evoke are important determinants
of whether the overall experience is believable.
A concrete approach towards the creation of believability for IDN
can be by the application of AI methods or by system design. For
the design of NPCs this means to either use a “process intensive”
[7] approach, resting on AI, or by applying methods of “Scripting
the interactor” [22] to achieve a similar effect.
3.2.4 Role-Identification
By identifying with a virtual character, an interactor can feel like a
hero, a rock star, or a powerful decision maker. Fulfilling the
desire to be in some else’s shoes can generate positive emotions
such as pride, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. In IDN, interactors
typically are offered a role within the narrative setting, and it is of
great interest to designers whether interactors adopt this role
(identify with the role) or remain detached (“remain outside of the
story” [24]). Customization of this measurement is necessary,
however, because the role offered to interactors may vary greatly.
Sometimes, this role may be made explicit (the user is assigned to
be a hero, for instance), at other times the role may just be
conveyed implicitly to users so that only some properties of the
character that users control become salient. “Scripting the
interactor” [22] by providing salient information on the player
character and narrative context is one way to increase role-
3.2.5 Curiosity
One of the basic building blocks of narrative is its ability to create
and sustain users’ interest in upcoming (and so far uncertain)
narrative events [17]. In IDN curiosity may refer to progress, but
also to the interactor’s actionable possibilities (“What will happen
if I do this?”). Likewise, Berlyne [3] distinguishes two types of
curiosity: perceptual curiosity, which activates uncertainty-
relieving perceptions, and epistemic curiosity, which activates
quests for knowledge. When curiosity occurs, interactors first
perceive a state of uncertainty, accompanied by an increased
physiological activation. If this uncertainty is not too strong, most
people seem to enjoy such (temporary) activation [3]. When
uncertainty is reduced (by finding out what actually happens
next), interactors experience a sense of accomplishment and
closure, which renders the increased physiological activation a
positive, pleasant experience [23]. If the state of curiosity is
followed by a surprise (e.g. something unexpected happens), these
affective user responses often turn into exhilaration [34]. IDN that
generate iterations of increased and resolved curiosity thus create
a chain of pleasant affective dynamics. Because curiosity is a
future-focused emotional state (e.g. it is driven by expectations
and thoughts about events to come rather than events that already
happened), curiosity holds a unique potential to bind sustained
interactor engagement in a narrative experience.
3.2.6 Suspense
The concept of suspense is related to curiosity. Both experiences
are rooted in a state of uncertainty. However, suspense is also
fueled by aversive emotional components, such as anxiety or
empathic concern (e.g. fearing the defeat of a liked protagonist;
[34]). In contrast to curiosity, suspense thus is rooted in emotional
involvement with characters or the overall narrative. Therefore,
suspense is a rather stressful mode of entertainment. However, if
the desired or dreaded outcomes occur, strong experiences of
relief and either sadness or satisfaction (“happy end”; [34])
follow. Research in media psychology suggests that both the
aversive stage of suspense and the rewarding relief contribute to
user enjoyment [14].
In IDN the order of events might change from one instantiation to
the next. In this regard, instantiation is understood as a
walkthrough, the product that results from an interactor engaging
an IDN system in an interactive process. This fact marks a
challenge for authorial control over the discourse structure; while
an author of fixed media narratives (book, film) can decide on the
narrative sequence and polish for suspense, in IDN, this level of
authorial control over the narrative is not a given.
3.3 Transformation
Murray understands narrative as a transformational experience:
“The right stories can open our hearts and change who we are,”
[22]. This is in line with our conceptualization of eudaimonic
appreciation. This personal transformation is crucial for the
success of commercial, artistic and serious applications (e.g.
therapeutic) alike. In comparison to the movie and the book, IDN
enables a more direct connection with a narrative through active
participation [22], thus increasing the personal engagement and
the associated transformative aspects.
In contrast to real life, IDN offers the possibility to start over
again and try different actions. Thus, by replaying, interactors can
get a sense of transformation, especially if the system offers
enough alternative paths and outcomes.
3.3.1 Eudaimonic Appreciation
We enjoy a digital environment and the interactive narration in it
not only for its agency and immersion, its characters and narrative
progression but also for its visual and auditive presentation and
the particular way it engages with our personality. This kind of
appreciation is derived from a combination of the prerequisites of
a given artifact (design, aesthetics) and its pleasurable experience,
which manifests itself for instance in sensory delight, evoked by
beautiful images, music, camera angles, narrative style, and the
narrative content (character development, character fate).
In many cases, this experiential dimension is linked to users’
construction of personal meaning from a story or piece of art [28].
More specifically, we can understand this experience as
“eudaimonic appreciation” [26] as the link that connects the
aesthetic presentation to a personal dimension rooted in previous
experiences. Consequently, recent research differentiates between
two motivations to use entertainment media hedonistic
enjoyment and eudaimonic appreciation [26].1 Here, we recast
Roth’s category of aesthetic pleasantness to be more inclusive of
the emotional (in comparison to sensory) aspect.
Media users with eudaimonic motivations seek entertainment
offerings that deal with decisive and meaningful life events. By
observing how characters cope with hardship or how they emerge
victorious from a difficult challenge, they hope to deduce general
life lessons, even insights into the meaning of life [42].
With IDN, interactors connect memories form their own lives to
the ones in the virtual environment and thus derive a sense of
introspection from the experience. Accordingly, Oliver and
Bartsch [25] reframe appreciation to describe the personal
gratification that can be derived from such media offerings.
3.3.2 Positive and Negative Affect
Different narratives can evoke diverse affective states in
interactors. They can range from horrid to joyful, from calm to
excited. While positive affect is obviously connected to
enjoyment (e.g. feelings of empowerment, excitement, and pride),
it is more complex for negative affect. For example, the
conclusion of a narrative might make us sad, yet we might still
simultaneously appreciate and even enjoy the experience for the
way it has touched us by communicating a particular aspect of the
human condition. Positive affect through sad narratives has been
shown for movies (e.g. [11]) and is related to meaningful,
eudaimonic (as opposed to hedonistic) types of appraisal. At the
same time, a boring or frustrating user experience can also lead to
a negative affect. Measurements should therefore be conducted on
different levels, e.g. diverse physiological indicators such as heart
rate, skin conductance and facial electromyography (fEMG) (for
an overview of the use of such measurements in the evaluation of
digital artifacts, see [1])
3.3.3 Enjoyment
Enjoyment is the most general experiential category underlying
entertainment. In comparison to affect (and it more fine-grained
measurements of different states of arousal), it describes a more
broad experience of pleasure. Vorderer et al. [31] have defined
this category as a positive experience and emotion. Enjoyment
thus can be regarded as an affective outcome, rooted in many
different often media specific underlying dimensions.
Importantly, the better a system gratifies user expectations, the
higher the resulting enjoyment will be that is, even though user
experiences may be positive, overly high expectations may
decrease users’ perceptions of a pleasurable experience.
1 Used in Aristotelian ethics and political philosophy, Eudaimonia
can be translated as happiness or welfare,
but also as “human flourishing
As a measurement of userspleasurable engagement, enjoyment
might help predict future media use and influence such media
effects as learning and excitation transfer [33]. The enjoyment of
a particular mediated experience can stem from different features
of its content and presentation. IDN applications combine
experiences from narratives, games and role-playing, including
curiosity and suspense, challenge and control, and the pleasure of
make-belief that combine to form a pleasurable experience. In
addition, the enjoyment of IDN is fueled by a mix of experiences
(e.g. flow, effectance, and identification), which are known from
interactive entertainment media like video games. Finally, IDN
offers specific pleasures, in the experience of choices and
consequences, control over character development the awareness
of a multitude of alternate paths and their manifestation in replay.
4. Conclusion
In this paper, we introduce a flexible toolbox to evaluate the
experience of interactive digital narrative (IDN) artifacts based on
the first author’s earlier work [27] and Murray’s aesthetic
experiential qualities. This framework enables the measurement of
IDN user experience dimensions on a quantitative level. By
aligning and recasting Roth’s dimensions as components of
Murray’s experiential qualities of agency, immersion, and
transformation, we not only connect experimental evaluation to an
established discourse, but also provide a missing link between
Murray’s more abstract but comprehensive and widely used
theoretical categories and empirical research. With this move we
aim to enhance the dialogue between more practice-oriented
disciplines and the humanities inside academia. Furthermore, our
toolbox of measurements lays a foundation we intend to develop
further in order to make the comprehensible abstractions of
Murray’s categories ‘measurable’ and thus more directly usable in
professional applications.
The aim of this work was to provide a comprehensive toolset for
the analysis of IDN. From our perspective, IDN is successful
when it provides a convincing experience based on a sufficient
level of stimuli in the categories of agency, immersion and
transformation. Our work connecting Roth and Murray provides
the means to empirically verify these experiential qualities.
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... Games researchers have since used the scale to assess self-efficacy in games [41], player agency when engaging with game AI [8], interactivity in VR games [38], and have adapted it to measure effectance experiences of live-streaming audiences when directly or indirectly impacting on-stream content [4,45]. The scale has found particular application among games researchers studying interactive digital narratives (IDN), where Klimmt and colleagues [21] posited effectance as a key mediator between antecedent features (like usability and believability) and consequent experiences (like curiosity, suspense, or surprise; see also [31]). Based on this, Vermeulen and colleagues [44] developed a measurement battery for the user experience of IDNs, which includes effectance as a construct, measured by the 11-item effectance scale. ...
... Klimmt (and others after him) see effectance as a component of agency experiences [20,31], and directly linked to self-efficacy, defined as łpeople's beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their livesž [2, p. 2]. For these scholars, self-efficacy is the learned expectation of personal effectance, built up through repeated actual effectance experiences [18,41]. ...
... Games researchers have since used the scale to assess self-efficacy in games [41], player agency when engaging with game AI [8], interactivity in VR games [38], and have adapted it to measure effectance experiences of live-streaming audiences when directly or indirectly impacting on-stream content [4,45]. The scale has found particular application among games researchers studying interactive digital narratives (IDN), where Klimmt and colleagues [21] posited effectance as a key mediator between antecedent features (like usability and believability) and consequent experiences (like curiosity, suspense, or surprise; see also [31]). Based on this, Vermeulen and colleagues [44] developed a measurement battery for the user experience of IDNs, which includes effectance as a construct, measured by the 11-item effectance scale. ...
... Klimmt (and others after him) see effectance as a component of agency experiences [20,31], and directly linked to self-efficacy, defined as łpeople's beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their livesž [2, p. 2]. For these scholars, self-efficacy is the learned expectation of personal effectance, built up through repeated actual effectance experiences [18,41]. ...
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Effectance—the basic positive experience of causing effects—provides a promising explanation for the enjoyment derived from novel low-challenge game genres featuring ample ‘juicy’ feedback. To date, game researchers have studied effectance using a little-validated 11-item scale developed by Klimmt, Hartmann, and Frey. To test its dimensionality and discriminant validity, we conducted an online survey (n = 467) asking people to report on effectance and related experiences in a recent play session. Confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses show poor fit with a unidimensional factor structure and poor discriminant validity with common enjoyment and mastery/competence measures, likely due to reverse-coded items and a separable input lag factor. We discuss further possible validity issues like questionable content validity, advise against using the scale in its present form, and close with recommendations for future scale development and use.
... Interactive digital narrative systems provide a more comprehensive storytelling process that integrates systems, users, processes, and frameworks [2]. is technology may generate a customizable narrative environment for users through prototype tales, narrative design, and narrative vectors. Interactive digital storytelling sits at the crossroads of the humanities and computer science study domains, integrating computational storytelling and generative systems, with a great potential for varied applications and aesthetic approaches [3]. It resolves the contradiction between linear narrative and interaction in a "system-interaction-output" way, [4] producing instantiated narrative products through participatory process experiences. ...
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Choice-based interactive storytelling games such as Academical, our responsible conduct of research training game, show great promise as a novel way of providing efficacious ethics training. However, much work remains to determine what factors of such games contribute to their advantages over traditional text-based training tools, especially if we hope to further improve their enjoyment, engagement and efficacy. In this article, we present a case study exploring how the motivational factors of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) underlie players’ perceived most and least enjoyable experiences arising from the design of Academical. Specifically, we discuss how certain elements of Academical’s design influence different SDT factors and subsequently player experience, as well as how such elements can be changed to further improve the game. Furthermore, our work highlights potential limitations of existing conceptualizations for the relatedness factor of SDT—discussing ways that it can be extended to properly understand player enjoyment within single-player educational interactive narrative games.
... The expressive power of Interactive Digital Narratives (IDNs) and video games 1 is by now unquestioned: as Roth and Koenitz maintain, "IDN is a form of narrative expression in the digital interactive medium" (Roth and Koenitz, 2016) 2 . This is also proved by the number of studies discussing the entertainmentrelated aspects of such artifacts (e.g., among the others, Sheldon, 2004;Koster, 2005;Salen and Zimmerman, 2005;Fullerton, 2008;Schell, 2014;Battey, 2017;Miller, 2019;Egenfeldt-Nielsen et al., 1 In my understanding, video games and IDNs are two distinct categories only partly overlapping: just as IDNs, also video games are interactive and digital, but not all video games are IDNs and not all IDNs are video games. ...
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Is our way of expressing meanings through digital interactive artifacts simple? How does our sensemaking work when we try to understand Interactive Digital Narratives? To answer these and other questions, the present article discusses a complex-systemic understanding of the expressive mechanisms of Interactive Digital Narratives, to argue the expressive complexity of these artifacts. Interactors of Interactive Digital Narratives necessarily base their hermeneutic processes mainly on what is conveyed in the artifact itself; yet the question of how meaning is expressed in (and sense-making is guided by) Interactive Digital Narratives remains significantly open. I contend that sense-making in such artifacts works by synthetizing the knowledge coming from a number of layers of information, which are intercurrent, interdependent and interoperating, and which concurrently participate in the creation of an overall meaning of a higher order. According to complex systems theory, these layers are therefore elements of a complex system: this justifies the understanding. Even though largely unexplored, this understanding may help advance our knowledge of the representational capabilities and affordances of Interactive Digital Narrarives, not least in representing multifaceted worlds and complex phenomena. A complex-systemic view can also improve our comprehension of the interpretative processes involved in the sense-making of Interactive Digital Narratives. Furthermore, the awareness gained through this understanding could be useful to get a better sense of the impact of the narratives featured in these artifacts, and ultimately to create more engaging and more powerful experiences that can help foster the societal impact of Interactive Digital Narratives.
... The way the participant interacted with the local people reinforced the idea of being gamers (e.g., '[The NPC] can talk to you, it improves the interaction and gives a good impression about the daily life' (3)). As Video Game Experiential Marketing in Tourism video games often offer a higher level of interactivity [23], interactions with NPCs serve as key drivers in making the experiences more active and engaging [36]. ...
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While film and television have a long tradition in tourism marketing, the potential of video games is overlooked. This study unlocks a novel era of marketing by investigating the interplay between experiential factors and in-game experiences, and how they may contribute to one’s intention to visit in-game destinations. By taking Assassin’s Creed Odyssey as the study context, game world dynamics, level of immersion, level of freedom, connection to characters, and sense of realism are identified as the five pillars that shape gaming experiences. Drawing upon experience design, this study lays the groundwork for emerging marketing opportunities using video games for tourism and contributes to the broader field of media-induced tourism literature.
... Creation and validation of the narrative followed the BIE (building, intervention, evaluation) action research scheme according to [36] and resulted in an alpha (4 test users, not farmers), beta (2 farmers) and final version (online field experiment with farmers). The quality of the artefact was validated along the three dimensions: usability, immersion and transformational capability applying the criteria for evaluating the user experience for interactive digital narratives according to Roth and Koenitz [37]. The multi-linear narrative was implemented as an interactive hypertext using Twine, an open source tool for creating interactive nonlinear stories [38] and the resulting story was accessible via any Internet browser ...
This demo is the first outcome of the research project VR for Diversity. The theoretical backgrounds for the project are shortly discussed and the concept for Amelia’s Dream is presented. Amelia’s Dream is a VR experience that is filmed using volumetric video capture technology, in which a young woman shares some of her dreams and concerns, relating to issues of gender equality. Focusing on how parasocial and physical interaction may impact the persuasive effects of VR, the research plan shortly elaborates on how the installation will be used for experimental studies into the possibilities of VR as a perspective shifter.
Visualization is widely employed in the engineering industry to fulfill the increasing demand for robust data exploration and insight enhancement tools. It is valued for its ability to improve the performance and efficiency of various engineering tasks. Narrative visualization is a growing interdisciplinary field with a great potential for mission-critical, pressure-filled, and time-sensitive operations. Because of the novelty of the discipline, there is a lack of research focused on design strategies of story-based data representation in the engineering domain. Based on the existing visualization research, we identified four prominent design qualities: aesthetics, usability, novelty, and complexity; and examined them in the context of interactive story-focused engineering visualization. We concluded that: 1) Terminology needs to be re-evaluated in the new context; 2) All four design dimensions we analyzed are subjective and prone to personal interpretation; 3) All four design qualities can be both positive and negative, depending on the context; 4) Trade-off between design qualities has to be made; 5) There is a lack of completed case studies in the field. We hope this research will be beneficial for bridging the gap between storytellers, visualization designers, and engineers, as well as establishing design strategies for this emerging visualization form.
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In recent years, games with a focus on narrative have been a growing area. However, so far, interactive narrative aspects have not been the focus of video game education (with the noted exception of a small number of programs in game writing), which indicates that many narrative designers are self-trained. The insular status means that many designers use private vocabulary and conceptualizations that are not directly transferable. This state of affairs is an obstacle to productive discourse and has negative consequences for the further development of the professional field. By starting an educational program, we aim to address this problem using the opportunity to also include perspectives outside of games. We report on the first iteration of a minor in interactive narrative design, and reflect on lessons learned, while considering future trajectories for this and similar programs.
Conference Paper
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In this paper, we aim to measure affect and behaviour indicators of players to understand how they feel in different play modes and how games could be improved to enhance user experience, immersion and engagement. We analyse the affective states in sets of two users playing a Wii video game in three play modes: solo, competitive and collaborative. We measured their physiological signals and observed the non-verbal behaviours to infer their affective states. Although other studies have looked at these signals in gaming, this work focuses on the differences between the three play modes aforementioned. Our results show that: 1) Players experience similar levels of arousal during both solo and collaborative play modes; 2) players' heart rates are significantly correlated during the competitive mode but not during the collaborative one; and 3) heart rate variability is a good indicator of engagement when playing video games.
Conference Paper
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While authoring has long been a concern for researchers engaged in interactive narrative, generalized design approaches have been less of a focus. At the same time, the need for design conventions to aid in the creation of artifacts has long been recognized, starting with Murray’s 1997 Hamlet on the Holodeck. However, unlike in the related field of game design, widely accepted, generalized conventions are still elusive. In this paper I investigate the state of affairs and identify several broad trajectories in the scholarly treatment of interactive narrative authoring. I propose a process and a set of design heuristics developed in my practice of teaching interactive digital narrative.
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Abstract: After clarifying metatheoretical premises, we will outline the basic characteristics of the interest construct. This concept is derived from the framework of an "educational theory of interest" which will here be extended by motivational and by theory of personality conceptions following Deci & Ryan's motivational self-determination theory. Interest will be defined in terms of a specific personobject- relationship which can be analyzed at the level of a person's concrete engagements with his or her object of interest (action of interest) as well as at the level of habitual or dispositional factors of personality (personal interests).
Conference Paper
The opposition between narrative agency—the ability for readers and players to make meaningful choices—and narrative immersion has been an ongoing conflict in the world of interactive storytelling. Some forms, such as games, have been argued to be more successful at balancing the tension between interactivity and immersion than forms like hypertext fiction [16]. Using these two forms as illustration, this paper will argue for the need for more nuanced understandings of “agency” and “immersion” by introducing definitions of diegetic and extra-diegetic agency alongside definitions of narrative and mechanical immersion. Extending the vocabulary of agency and immersion highlights some key differences in how games and hypertexts have been understood.
In this chapter, the hedonistic premise of mood-management theory is examined and expanded to account for seemingly nonhedonistic choices of media content. Counterhedonistic message selection is considered in the context of selective-exposure theory. Informational utility is invoked as a choice-driving force that complements content selection. The confounded operation of hedonistic and informational choice determinants is detailed for various domains of communication. In particular, it is proposed that hedonistic motivation, as articulated in mood-management theory, dominates spontaneous entertainment choices, with nonhedonistic considerations being complementary to choice determination. The choice of educational and informational media content, in contrast, is thought to be dominated by considerations of informational utility, but also to entail noninformational anticipations. The integration of these and related choice determinants is emphasized for the development of comprehensive theories of selective exposure.
In this work ,we focus ,on demonstrating, a real ,time communication interface which enhances text communication by detecting from real time typed text, the extracted emotions, and displaying on the screen appropriate facial expression images ,in real time. The displayed expressions are represented in terms of expressive ,images ,or sketches of ,the communicating ,persons. This interface makes ,use of a ,developed ,real time ,emotion ,extraction engine from text. The emotion extraction engine and extraction rules are discussed together with a description of the interface, its limits and future direction of such interface. The extracted emotions are mapped into displayed facial expressions. Such interface can be used ,as a ,platform ,for a number ,of future ,CMC experiments. The developed ,online communication ,interface brings together remotely located collaborating parties in a ,shared electronic space for their communication. In its current state the interface allows the participant to see at a glance,all other online participants and ,all those who ,are engaged ,in communications.,An important ,aspect of the ,interface is that for two users engaged in communication, the interface locally extracts emotional states from the content of typed ,textual sentences automatically. Subsequently it displays discrete expressions mapped,from extracted emotions to the remote screen of the other person. It also analyses/extracts the ,intensity/duration of ,the emotional