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An Integrated and Iterative Research Direction for Interactive Digital Narrative

Authors:
  • HKU University of the Arts Utrecht
  • HKU University of the Arts Utrecht

Abstract and Figures

This paper outlines a roadmap for interactive narrative research that integrates disparate parts while focusing on identifying and experimentally veri‐ fying IDN design conventions and on developing a pedagogy to further the devel‐ opment of a professional discipline of IDN creators. This effort connects several key areas, in which the authors have worked before and which are now brought together. These include a specific theory, an approach towards interactive narra‐ tive design and its evaluation, an expanded understanding of the manifestations constituting the field, the pedagogy of educating creators of IDN artifacts and a perspective on the cultural significance of these creative expressions as tools to represent complexity.
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An Integrated and Iterative Research Direction
for Interactive Digital Narrative
Hartmut Koenitz
()
, Teun Dubbelman
()
, Noam Knoller
()
, and Christian Roth
()
Professorship Interactive Narrative Design, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht,
Lange Viestraat 2b, Po stbox 15 20, 3500 BM, Utrech t, Netherland s
{Hartmut.koenitz,teun.dubbelman,noam.knoller,
christian.roth}@hku.nl
Abstract. This paper outlines a roadmap for interactive narrative research that
integrates disparate parts while focusing on identifying and experimentally veri‐
fying IDN design conventions and on developing a pedagogy to further the devel
opment of a professional discipline of IDN creators. This effort connects several
key areas, in which the authors have worked before and which are now brought
together. These include a specific theory, an approach towards interactive narra‐
tive design and its evaluation, an expanded understanding of the manifestations
constituting the field, the pedagogy of educating creators of IDN artifacts and a
perspective on the cultural significance of these creative expressions as tools to
represent complexity.
Keywords: Interactive narrative models · Interactive narrative design ·
Interactive narrative art · Interactive narrative pedagogy · Narrative
representations of complexity · Protostory · Protoprocess
1 Introduction
So far, approaches to interactive digital narrative (IDN)/interactive digital storytelling
have focused on particular aspects like drama management [1], autonomous actors [2],
emergent narrative [3], analytical aspects [4], user engagement [5], and authoring tools
[6, 7]. More recently, generalizable design conventions have been identified as an area
needing attention [8]. At the same time, concerns have been raised about the necessity
to educate IDN authors [9, 10], which indicate a need for a specific pedagogy. Since
IDN artifacts exist within a societal context [11], we should also attempt to understand
this relationship and IDN’s cultural significance.
Our reaction to these challenges is an integrated perspective that connects Theory,
Practice, Pedagogy and Culture (Fig. 1). We will apply this interconnected perspective
in our on work, but also offer it to the community for discussion and collaboration. Our
specific approach integrates the authors’ prior work in the field while focusing on
identifying IDN design conventions and on developing a pedagogy to educate IDN
“cyberbards” [12]. Grounded in Koenitz’ specific theory of IDN [13], we introduce
practice-based research into design conventions based on Roth’s empirical methods [14,
15], and apply Knoller’s artistic/critical view [16, 17] to further enhance our analytical
© Springer International Publishing AG 2016
F. Nack and A.S. Gordon (Eds.): ICIDS 2016, LNCS 10045, pp. 51–60, 2016.
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-48279-8_5
understanding and ability to communicate the form’s potential while using Dubbelman’s
pragmatic approach [18, 19] to develop an IDN pedagogy. Finally, we extend Murray’s
perspective on the societal impact of configurative, procedural digital artifacts [20] and
cast IDN artifacts as tools to represent and make sense of complexity in our postmodern
society.
Fig. 1. An integrated perspective on IDN
2 Establishing Design Conventions
While we argue for a holistic approach, we are fully aware that the direct influence of
scholarly work is on the analytical understanding and pedagogy of next generation
creators. Thus the impact on practice and cultural significance is more indirect, which
explains our two research foci in identifying design conventions and developing a
specific pedagogy. Simultaneously, our basis in Koenitz’ model of IDN [21] means that
we understand theory and practice as connected in a feedback loop. Developments on
either side influence the other, which means that novel phenomena in the field of practice
demand advancements in critical reflection, while conceptual advances influence prac‐
tice. This necessitates an iterative approach towards the development of theory.
The same model also takes IDN as a specific expressive form in the digital medium
that is fundamentally interactive in contrast to attempts at “interactivizing” [21] tradi‐
tional narrative structures. This means IDN as a practice is developing novel and distinct
formats and genres of narrative, not merely new versions of established formats such as
the novel, the movie, or the stage drama. Accordingly, Janet Murray has identified the
“invention and refinement” of design conventions as a focus area for practical research
in expressive digital media, so as to avoid the danger of “unproductive attempts to apply
legacy conventions to new digital frameworks,” [22] that fail to exploit the expressive
potential of interactive media.
As Murray herself has pointed out [20], the question of novel procedural formats of
representation is culturally highly significant. Narratives are a crucial way of organizing
knowledge into meaningful structures and thus help individuals and societies make sense
of the world [23]. However, the more complex phenomena become, the less effective
traditional linear narratives seem to be at performing this organizing function. The soci‐
etal impact of this observation should not be underestimated at a time when complex
interrelated global phenomena such as climate change, mass immigration, or the
52 H. Koenitz et al.
functioning of organizations such as the EU are not properly understood. The available
majority narratives are incapable of reflecting the complexity of these phenomena and
this deficiency can be exposed as “lies” by extremist agitators. Linear narratives can
thus be said to provide an opportunity and seemingly a justification for a populist agenda.
To an extent, this is a media effect. According to Habermas [24], the public sphere
functions when citizens have the opportunity to consider sufficient viewpoints on an
issue of public concern in sufficient depth. This (admittedly simplified) picture requires
a citizenry of engaged and critical consumers of media. However, traditional media are
no longer fit for the purpose while current digital media forms are not yet a solution:
long reads on the web engage very few people. The representation of complex issues
requires a medium that affords both a comprehensive representation of vast amounts of
information and the sustained engagement of contemporary audiences. IDN has this
potential thanks to its procedural, participatory, spatial and encyclopedic affordances.
IDN storyworlds can help interactors experience the dynamics of a complex situation
or event, for example the continuous struggle for survival in a developing country [25]
or the multitude of issues the discovery of a major oil reserve brings to a rural community
[26]. The latter example is especially illustrative for the presentation of complex societal
topics, as it connects representation with a discussion forum where participants can
exchange their views on the matter. Yet, as the problematic aesthetic disconnect between
cinematic representation and a non-diegetic discussion forum in Fort McMoney demon‐
strates, more research into design conventions is necessary to improve our ability to
represent complexity.
The critical appreciation of current and future IDN systems and their commercial
success will be related to the purposeful application of design conventions to create
satisfying and fulfilling experiences. This means to evoke satisfaction or frustration by
meeting, manipulating and subverting target audience expectations. User expectations
do not merely precede such systems but are co-created in an iterative process of system
design, experience, evaluation and feedback. Already, a few emerging conventions for
interactive digital narrative have been identified, for example “scripting the interactor”
[12] and “delayed consequences” [27]. However, we still lack a broad effort to establish
design conventions through identification and experimental verification. This aspect is
an integral part of our roadmap, based on methods in evaluating user experience we have
developed earlier [14].
2.1 Experimental Validation
Qualitative research offers an in-depth look at subjective experiences and phenomena.
Content analysis can be used to identify and compare patterns by using structured inter‐
views, investigating transcripts of IDN system interactions, or by analyzing the artifacts
directly. The initial basis for identifying design conventions is a content analysis under‐
taken on a canon of works created with the Advanced Stories Authoring and Presentation
System (ASAPS), a lightweight 2D game engine featuring narrative building blocks,
procedural elements, and state memory [28]. Currently, there are over 120 projects real‐
ized with the platform. In the exploratory study, four researchers independently analyzed
and rated the content of 110 works for structural elements, player perspective, visual
An Integrated and Iterative Research Direction 53
styles, replay variety, and subjective appraisal of the experience based on pre-defined
coding categories. The results of the study will be used to identify potential design
patterns for experimental validation.
To verify the effectiveness of particular design strategies we devise a quantitative
approach that connects prototypes with the evaluation of user experience (UX). Specif‐
ically, we plan to create prototype pairs – one applying a specific design strategy and
another omitting it – to enable a direct A/B comparison. A/B testing (using posttest-only
randomized experiments) is one of the best research designs for assessing cause-effect
relationships. We will test the effectiveness of design strategies by comparing prototypes
that differ only in one specific characteristic. Ideally, a concrete design fosters the expe‐
riential qualities of agency, immersion and transformation. [12]. The design of our
experimental setups will be based on our earlier experience with IDN user experience
evaluation [14], for example, with prototype-based user studies [29] and the A/B testing
approach [30]. Our measurement toolbox [31] can evaluate IDN user experiences,
covering a broad range of dimensions that can be related to Murray’s concepts: agency
(effectance, autonomy, usability), immersion (suspense, curiosity, presence, identifica‐
tion, believability, flow), and transformation (eudaimonic appreciation, enjoyment,
positive and negative affect).
The identification and verification of potential design conventions is an important
step in advancing IDN as an expressive practice. The accumulation of such knowledge
means to move beyond derivative practices that interactivize legacy narrative conven‐
tions. In that sense, this work feeds into the development of a specific pedagogy, as we
will discuss in the next section.
3 IDN Pedagogy – Educating IDN Designers
So far, interactive narrative design is still mostly a Geheimkunst, a secret art, prac
ticed by a few initiated practitioners and academic researchers. In contrast, training
in rule-based aspects of game design is well developed. The current situation
produces a vicious circle of the “catch 22” variety: narrative aspects in video games
are often given “second class” treatment, which makes IDN appear unattractive and
in turn reduces the interest in potential authors to engage with this subject. Simulta‐
neously, IDN has gained a reputation for being overly difficult - a prejudice, which
is made even stronger by the lack of trained professionals. The development of an IDN
pedagogy is an essential step towards breaking this vicious circle. Our approach is
based both on analytical perspectives and personal experiences by the authors in
teaching and creating IDN artifacts.
IDN provides a space for playful exploration [16] in which artists experiment with
the forms of the medium [32], to create formal systems. The term Interactive Digital
Narrative thus describes the overall expressive form, rather than any particular formats
or manifestations. IDN manifestations include both existing works such as interactive
fiction, narrative-focused computer games, interactive documentaries, interactive instal‐
lations, AR applications, and interactive VR experiences, as well as formats and genres
that are yet to emerge. In that sense, in the post-PC present, the Holodeck (as an
54 H. Koenitz et al.
expressive virtual space) is already here, all around us [17], rather than in a contained
futuristic entertainment location. However, we have only just begun to explore the
expressive potential of IDN.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to provide an accessible model of IDN that
communicates the expressive potential of IDN, the seemingly unwieldy array of formal
possibilities, to future cyberbards. This constitutes a fundamental theoretical challenge:
to identify and describe these forms, in order to make them available for creative experi‐
mentation. To properly reflect the unstable and constantly evolving nature of the medium,
any description will remain tentative and thus requires an iterative approach [21]. This
means shifting between two perspectives: bottom-up pattern recognition derived from
existing manifestations, as we’ve discussed in the previous section; and top-down theo‐
retical analysis. In the next section, we extend Koenitz analytical model [33] by inte‐
grating Knoller’s artistic perspective [16], focusing on the process of interaction.
3.1 Protostory and Protoprocess
The progression of System – Process – Product [33] (digital artifact, user interaction
and resulting output) marks the difference to traditional narrative media forms and solves
the disconnect between artifact and instantiated narrative observed by other scholars
(e.g. [34]). Additionally, this model includes an understanding of the content of the
system as a “protostory,” the prototypical space of “potential narratives” [34]. We now
extend this notion by integrating Knoller’s perspective of the “userly text” [16] which
entails a focus on the process. The significance of this enhanced description is in better
communicating the expressive potential of IDN.
There are two broad constructs that the user of any work of IDN engages with: the
first is the Protostory (Koenitz)/Encoded Storyworld (Knoller) and the second is the
Interaction Model (or Protoprocess, extending Koenitz’ terminology). Both Protostory
and Encoded Storyworld refer to the hardware, software assets and algorithms that
together encode a diegesis - the facts of the storyworld, including places, characters,
events, things (Aarseth’s ontic categories [35]), and the possible relations between these
various elements. The relations between the components used in the discursive repre‐
sentation (code objects, bits of video, audio or animation, spatial representation etc.),
constitute a higher level of organization of diegetic materials, which we call a discursive
strategy. One of the specific expressive opportunities of IDN is in non-traditional discur‐
sive strategies.
The second construct as far as the interactor is concerned is the Interaction Model,
or Protoprocess. The cyberbard makes a fundamental choice about which aspects of the
digital medium to use and which parts of the users’ bodies to address. The Protoprocess
thus begins to script the interactor by structuring the embodied activity of the interactor,
her userly performance. After deciding on the hardware platform, the author needs to
structure the internal logic of this performance. This is a matter of interface design: what
patterns of embodied performance does the software consider as input, and how does
the software model the interactor’s emotional or cognitive states? What is the vocabulary
of interaction, and how do these patterns of userly performance translate into the story‐
world? Do they affect the diegesis, or the discourse? Or perhaps both? What does it
An Integrated and Iterative Research Direction 55
mean, in storyworld terms, to click a button at a certain point, or to perform specific
gestures? Does the system make inferences about the user’s state, and map these states
into the logic of the interaction model in a way that alters the way userly performance
affects the storyworld’s layers? From a pedagogical point of view, the challenge for
authors here is tantamount to having to invent the book format, as well as reading, for
every new work.
By emphasizing the importance of Protoprocess, we put a focus on the need for a
cyberbard (and analytical perspectives) to consider the logic of the interaction model
and its (possibly dynamic) relation to the meaning of the Protostory. Together, they
constitute the global meaning of the work and the experience it affords. This expanded
perspective is a key step forward in communicating the potential of IDN to practitioners
and thus in the development of a pedagogy.
3.2 The IDN Designer: Skills, Attitudes, Knowledge
In order to develop a comprehensive IDN pedagogy, we have to establish desired skills,
attitudes and knowledge of IDN practitioners, but also specific teaching methods. Essen‐
tially, the practice of IDN requires practitioners to be able to design and develop inter‐
active systems. This requirement is fundamentally different from the approaches in well-
established narrative practices, like filmmaking or creative writing. In many respects,
the practice is akin to interaction design. Provisionally, we might therefore refer to the
IDN practitioner as a narrative interaction designer. Like the interaction designer, the
IDN practitioner needs to have a thorough understanding of interactive systems and user
interaction. The IDN skill set includes abilities such as systems thinking, design
thinking, interface design, iterative design, (paper) prototyping, programming and the
ability to test and validate user experiences.
However, knowledge of the aesthetic qualities of the interactive medium as well as
artistic application of its expressive potential is essential. The cyberbard creates
engaging and satisfying narrative user experiences, full of opportunities for interaction.
The authorial role in IDN is therefore more akin to a narrative architect, the creator of
an aesthetic narrative structure for the interactor to explore and manipulate. We under‐
stand this experience as evoking the mental frame of narrative in the sense of the ‘cogni‐
tive turn’ in narratology [36, 37].
IDN benefits from an extensive understanding of narrative beyond dominant western
models and insights from the fields of psychology, cognitive sciences and behavioral
sciences. Specifically, practitioners need to master the elements that make interactive
narratives engaging, including expertise in the areas of user mechanics, exposition tech‐
niques [19], character and world building, audio and sound design, and environmental
narrative [38]. Intuitively, existing conventions and practices from established narrative
formats like cinema, theatre and creative writing should be helpful in developing this
expertise. In practice, however, techniques developed for non-interactive forms in
legacy media can often be a hindrance to the development of design patterns for inter‐
active, procedural media, as Murray has observed [22], which also reflects our own
experiences [8]. Specifically, the procedural and participatory nature of IDN artifacts
challenges traditional notions of authorship and authorial control [18]. Therefore,
56 H. Koenitz et al.
learning to be a cyberbard means unlearning many deeply held convictions originating
in dominant literary and filmic forms of narrative. A further obstacle to this educational
effort is our limited knowledge of media-agnostic properties of narrative, something we
try to address in related research [39].
Thus, IDN practitioners are not storytellers in the traditional sense. Rather than
“telling a story,” the IDN practitioner designs and develops an interactive system that
enables users to instantiate stories, maybe even of their own [4]. Even though these user
stories can be controlled by the system to various degrees (e.g. scripted narratives) [40],
IDN has the ability to empower the user within the experience. In comparison to the
filmmaker, the interactive narrative designer has less direct control over the user’s expe‐
rience. The IDN practitioner determines (elements of) the interactive system, which
structures the behavior and experience of the user. Therefore, the interactive narrative
designer must be willing to hand over some authorial control to the interactor. This does
not mean that IDN cannot be used for making a clear statement. Rather, the process of
expressing meaning in IDN must consider the diversity of userly performances.
In general, the practice of IDN can be situated within the field of creative technolo‐
gies, located at the intersection of art, design and technology. IDN is an artistic practice;
it offers new possibilities for human expression. IDN is also a design practice; its artifacts
can be understood as applying comprehensive design conventions and serve a purpose
beyond the artist’s intended expression. IDN is a technological practice as well; it
embraces new technologies as essential narrative tools. In terms of skills, attitudes and
knowledge, then, interactive narrative designers might be approached as “creative tech‐
nologists” [41]. They should be keen to explore the potential of new technologies but
also have a deep interest in the user and her experience. In addition, practitioners should
be willing and able to work in interdisciplinary teams. The IDN skillset might not
commonly be found in one person alone, but in a team of audiovisual artists, designers
and developers.
With regard to teaching methods, the pedagogy of IDN could benefit from existing
ideas and practices in the educational domains of creative technology and 21st century
skills learning. Teaching methods in these domains are often project-based and process-
oriented [42]. Pedagogical concepts such as learning by doing [43], participation and
play [41], blended learning [44], and flipping the classroom [45], could also be valuable
for developing IDN teaching methods, especially when contextualized and rendered
useful for the specificity of IDN theory and practice.
On a final note, creative technologists are required to (and should be equipped for)
finding technology-driven solutions to complex problems in contemporary society [41].
This means that IDN practitioners need training in comprehending the role and signif‐
icance of narrative in everyday life, for example with respect to communication [46] or
identity construction [23].
4Conclusion
In this paper, we have outlined an integrated approach as a roadmap for future IDN
research. After a period in which research has focused on particular aspects, we empha‐
size connectedness and even interdependency of different aspects. Specifically, we draw
An Integrated and Iterative Research Direction 57
connections between Theory, Practice, Pedagogy and Culture, while focusing on analyt‐
ical research through practice-based empirical methods, and the development of a
specific pedagogy. Unlike more conventional research roadmaps, and given the work
we have already done in the respective areas, our approach means to connect parallel
efforts.
This interconnected perspective opens up exciting avenues for future research. For
example, a qualitative research approach could analyze existing IDN design approaches
through their cultural impact and critical validation in cultural channels such as curatorial
essays, blogging, and user reviews on gaming platforms. Finally, our concern is decid‐
edly focused on fostering an expanded artistic and professional practice. It is high time
for IDN to make more inroads into the fabric of contemporary culture. We position our
work as a move in this direction and extend an invitation for collaboration to other
researchers in the IDN space.
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60 H. Koenitz et al.
... As Koenitz et al. (2016) have pointed out earlier, the interactive narrative designer finds their craftsmanship in the ability to express narrative through interaction. In other words, an interactive narrative designer understands the appeal of characters, or the importance of conflict and then must be able to apply this narrative sensibility when designing engaging interactions for its audiences. ...
... When they have acquired this alternative understanding of narrative, they can start using their skillset in a new way by applying specific design principles (Koenitz 2015b). For example, we ask students to design interesting narrative game mechanics (Dubbelman 2016) that invite the player to perform actions that support the construction of engaging stories and fictional worlds in the mind of the player. ...
Article
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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.
... In regards to Interactive Digital Narratives (IDNs), there is still an ongoing debate to differentiate and categorize them from other interactive digital systems (Tavinor, 2008;Koenitz et al., 2016). Instead of engaging in this debate, we aim to investigate the shared characteristics of play between interactive digital systems such as IDNs and video games. ...
Article
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There is a growing interest in understanding how to best represent complexity using IDNs. We conceptualize this as the aim to make players of such IDNs reflect critically on the complexity being represented. We argue that current understandings of player experience do not lend themselves to this aim. Research on interactive media has assumed immersion to be a universal positive for the player experience. However, in this article we argue that immersion into the Magic Circle of an IDN could be antagonistic to a critical experience. This is because immersion persuades players into suspending their disbelief, rather than facilitating critical reflection. Instead we propose, on the basis of the Epic Theater, an alternative form of play called alienated play. Meaning, a form of play in which the player is playing, while also observing themselves play. This form of play should allow for players to benefit from the enjoyable nature of play, while simultaneously remaining at a critical distance. To illustrate our theory we design two models, one for immersed play and one for alienated play. Furthermore, we present examples of the design for alienation in commercial video games, as well as hypotheses to test out theory in future research. Therefore, this work contributes an initial theoretical and practical informed form of play, specifically designed to facilitate critical reflection on IDNs representing complexity.
... The first goal is to situate the use of factual IDN to create knowledge within the epistemic rhetorical discourse of the Neo-sophists by examining their rhetorical tactics. Achieving this goal means aligning and situating their rhetorical tactics within the proposed System-Process-Product Model (SPP Model) for IDN (Koenitz, 2010;Koenitz et al., 2016Koenitz et al., , 2020. The SPP Model is a framework for IDN that is used by the INDCOR research action (Koenitz et al., 2020). ...
Article
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The turn to Interactive Digital Narratives to understand complexity offers a new model for creating, developing, and maintaining knowledge. At the same time, storytellers have turned their attention to Virtual Reality (VR). The confluence of these trends draws attention to how non-fiction practitioners can use the technical and aesthetic affordances of VR to create knowledge about complex subjects through the IDN form. This article explores the epistemic rhetorical nature of using narrative discourse in VR to create knowledge about a non-fiction subject. The IDN community has not addressed this rhetorical aspect in their proposed epistemological process. Clarifying the epistemic rhetorical aspect inherent in producing knowledge on complex subjects through IDN provides insights into practitioners’ persuasive and political design and development choices. These intentional choices, in turn, impact the kind of knowledge produced. This rhetorical approach to knowledge production can be grounded in a Neo-sophist epistemic tradition wherein aesthetic choices are used rhetorically. I will present and discuss the Sophist rhetorical tactics of antithesis, the rhetoric of the possible; enargeia, the rhetoric of vivid details; kairos, the rhetoric of opportune timing; and mêtis, the rhetoric of the body. Their implementation by practitioners, how these aesthetic choices rhetorically create knowledge in the System-Process-Product model is presented. The article clarifies these rhetorical processes and choices and analyzes the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival’s Best Immersive Narrative, The Changing Same: An American Pilgrimage: Episode 1 . This VR factual IDN allows interactors to experience historical moments of racial injustice in the United States. The production team was interviewed about how they used the technical and aesthetic qualities of VR and IDN rhetorically to produce knowledge about the complex and violent history of racial injustice in the United States. Their responses indicate their active use of epistemic rhetorical tactics that capitalize on the technical and aesthetic affordances of VR and IDN to create knowledge.
... Interactive digital narratives (IDN) is a rapidly evolving area of research [12,13] and transmedia narratives can contribute to the development of the field, especially when dealing with applied research. Previous work [14] has analysed how the HCI research community has been addressing climate change to the general public, especially their interaction, storytelling and media choices. ...
Chapter
Climate change is arguably one of the most debated issues today. The scale and global reach of this crisis doesn’t afford a universal solution and requires widespread global mobilization. Public engagement is essential for the success of any initiative on this topic. However, sometimes communicating the facts is not enough. Interactive storytelling and transmedia narratives have an important part to play in communicating climate change, especially in shifting from a mere transmission of data to a narrative that is more engaging, positive and action focused, that considers diverse audiences and active participation. Following this premise, we conducted a survey on climate change applied research projects addressing the general public to understand how the fields of interactive media, HCI and Design are using transmedia narratives. The intention of this study is to gather what has been done regarding these topics and the strategies used, to further the debate among the community and inform future research.
... IDN creators must develop a system where the content appears in readers' imagination as if they were really in the narrative world. In this way, the narrative can be understood as a mental construction where the readers' action and interaction trigger responses in the system (Koenitz et al., 2016) . Thus, for Janet Murray (2012), any interactive digital narrative's success is its "dramatic agency." ...
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Recorre-se ao trabalho artístico Caléndulas (2020), criado por Lucas Gervilla e Soledad Rolleri para estabelecer relações entre memória, esquecimento, ruínas e nostalgia, sempre com a mediação da arte. A obra trabalha com a estética do abandono e utiliza o universo ruinoso para se relacionar com o conceito de ruinofilia, criado por Svetlana Boym (2011). Os diferentes conceitos de nostalgia propostos pela autora russa também são debatidos no texto, bem como a ideia de lejanía presente na obra Sin, de Samuel Beckett.
... A 2016 version of SPP, or SPP+ (Figure 4), attempts to synthesise it with the high-level components of the Userly Text model (cf. Koenitz et al. 2016). The system component is conceived here as a protostory -a prototype of potential narratives -equivalent to the Userly Text's encoded storyworld. ...
Preprint
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A high level model of the relations, in the field of interactive digital storytelling and narrative(IDS/N), between the world, the interactive narrative artefact and its subjective experience and representation, shows two processes of cognitive reduction: modelling (by an author/designer etc.) and userly performance (by a user). This is the complexity triad. The rest of the presentation begins to relate two existing models of IDS/N to this triad, leading to a discussion. Presented at an online working meeting of the EU COST action CA18230 INDCOR on 30th of March 2020
... The challenge for us as educators in the minor is to first help game design students "unlearn" linear and static ways of storytelling, which still dominate school education and public discourse about narrative [6]. We do this by expanding students' understanding of narrative and raising awareness for alternatives to the dominant eurocentric forms (e.g. ...
Chapter
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In recent years, interactive narrative design has become the main activity of a diverse group professionals working in video games, agencies, museums, at broadcasters, and online newspapers. At the same time, there has been no degree program in interactive narrative design, which indicates that many narrative designers are self-trained. By starting an educational program we aim to address this problem, using the opportunity to also include perspectives outside of games.
... As we have pointed out earlier, the interactive narrative designer finds its craftsmanship in the ability to express narrative through interaction (Koenitz et al. 2016). In other words, an interactive narrative designer understands the appeal of characters, or the importance of conflict and then must be able to apply this narrative sensibility when designing engaging player interactions. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Ludonarrative aspects have not been the focus of video game studies. During the foundational phase of the discipline, the focus was placed on game mechanics and on understanding what distinguishes games from earlier forms like the movie or the novel. In recent years, however, the growing field of narrative-focused games (e.g. Dear Esther (The Chinese Room 2008), Gone Home (The Fullbright Company 2013), Telltale Games’ productions like The Walking Dead (Telltale Games 2012), The Wolf Amongst Us (Telltale Games 2013), Firewatch (Campo Santo 2016)) have alerted us to the possibilities of narrative expressions that embrace the affordances and unique possibilities of digital interactivity. In other words – these games do not attempt to ‘interactivize’ print literature or the movie, but instead explore a different and so far largely unexplored space of interactive digital narration. This development needs to be reflected in video game teaching. Yet, so far, narrative has been a stepchild in games education. Most game design degree programs feature only a single course on the topic. Our approach instead is to offer a minor concentration within a game design program.
Chapter
Collaboration is at the heart of Interactive Digital Narrative (IDN), yet IDN designers and players rarely encounter one another’s subjective experiences around an IDN. Making that communication explicit can enhance beginning IDN design students’ understanding of the inherently collaborative quality of IDN and the importance of digital tools. Researching such collaboration presents many challenges, ranging from ensuring participants have tools to facilitate sharing and feedback to providing researchers data for relevant analysis. We describe our design for a real-time collaborative IDN education design workshop, “Imagining the Other.” The workshop protocol involves students learning the basics of Twine authoring, designing IDNs, playing a peer’s IDN, and sharing comments for the ongoing design process in real-time. To run the workshop in a scalable way, we extended an existing web-based research platform, Sherlock, to support synchronous editing and data collection from novice authors exchanging feedback. The platform modifications support practice-based research by surfacing the numerous interactions in this social learning process for analysis. We evaluated the system feasibility by an initial pilot study with undergraduates new to IDN and analyzing the comments and content produced using an existing narrative coding scheme, showing preliminary evidence of the intended insight. The primary contribution is an integrated methodology and guidelines for subsequent large-scale studies exploring the social-relational merits of IDN education within an innovative research platform.
Thesis
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Narrative is viewed by a growing body of interdisciplinary work as an immanent medium through which humans interpret the world and their life. The author claims that in accordance, a level of narrative interpretation should be situated within the temporality of lived experience, of being-in-interaction with the world. To achieve this, the predominant understanding of narrative as an abstract structure actualized in conscious, reflective thought should be supplemented with a more immediate phenomenological level, where narrative framing is in direct interplay with embodied experience. In this scope, this thesis develops an initial theoretical framework that posits narrativity, the narrative quality of experience, as an embodied and enactive modality. Paul Ricoeur’s theory of narrative identity, which develops a model of dynamic circularity between action, narrative interpretation, and the formation of life stories, is positioned at the base of this framework. Ricoeur’s view is adapted and expanded via Alva Noë’s theory of enactive perception, according to which all perceptual experience is actively enacted through implicit sensorimotor knowledge, and involves skillful interpretation via ‘practical understanding’ of movement in environment. The author stipulates that narrativity might be entangled with enactive perception, and therefore construed in relationality to the dynamics of movement and action. This claim is further expanded via Mieke Bal’s narratological concept of focalization –according to which narrative perspective is calibrated through “the movement of the look” – to suggest the concept of enactive narrative focalization. This framework is applied to discuss interactive digital narrative media, where the spectator is positioned inside the ‘storyworld’ to become an interactor, and stories unfold through navigating an environment. By analyzing past work in this field such as the game Journey (2012), the author claims that his thought on embodied narrativity provides a potentially valuable theorization of how interactive narratives take shape in experience. In particular, the notion of enactive focalization underscores the narrativity of movement, and hence the resonances between the authoring of tangible movement dynamics in digital environments and narrative understanding. Keywords: narrative phenomenology; interactive digital narrative; embodied cognition; enactive perception; environmental storytelling; movement dynamics; focalization; narrative identity.
Chapter
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Interactive digital narrative (IDN) challenges basic assumptions about narrative in the western world—namely about the role of the author and the fixed state of content and structure as the audience takes on an active role and the narratives become malleable. 1 It seems quite clear that narrative theory—as is—cannot fully account for these changed conditions. Many scholars have reacted to these challenges by adapting established narrative theories. This approach has clear advantages as terms, categories, and methods of analysis are already well understood. On the other hand, analysing IDN with theoretical frameworks created to describe narrative in traditional media carries the risk of misunderstanding the nature of the change. In this regard, Espen Aarseth rightfully warns of the danger of " theoretical imperialism " (1997, p. 16). For example, once we focus on similarities with ancient Greek stage play we can become overly wedded to the framework of Aristotle's Poetics and prone to disregard aspects that do not fit that particular frame of reference. A more fully developed theory of digital interactive narrative should be careful to avoid such theoretical pitfalls. Before sketching out a specific theoretical framework for IDN, I will analyse several existing theoretical perspectives to foreground the scope and focus of earlier contributions and investigate which aspects are not fully covered yet.
Article
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One of the approaches to generate narrative consists in modeling narrative in terms of a deep structure, as introduced by narrative theories in the middle of the 20th century. This papers revisits this computational approach, and raises the central issue of dramatic tension: Would it be possible to build a computational model of dramatic tension, where tension could be managed according to the well known ascending/descending dramatic curve? The paper describes a new computational model of narrative, based on a set of structural narrative elements (goals, tasks, obstacles, side-effects), a hierarchical and modular approach, a paradox-based model of dramatic tension and a solution for managing endings. The papers illustrates this theoretical model with a full example.
Conference Paper
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Using both manual and automatic content analysis we analyzed 100 collected screen plays of 50 users of the IS system Façade, coding the extent to which users stayed “in character”. Comparing this measure for first and second exposure to Façade revealed that users stay significantly less in character during second exposure. Further, related to a set of independently collected user experience measures we found staying in character to negatively influence users’ affective responses. The results confirm the notion that the more Façade users keep to their assigned role, the easier they become dissatisfied with the system’s performance. As a result, users start exploring the system by acting “out of character”.
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.
Conference Paper
This paper builds on our analysis of interactive digital narrative (IDN) and traditional literary narrative (LN) to address issues relevant to theory and pedagogy of narrative technologies. We discuss pedagogical problems with narrative design and introduce an interdisciplinary experimental course (in computer science and psychology) to increase understanding of complementing and conflicting qualities of IDN and LN. This perspective extends recent debates about protostory [1] elements, processes, and specific micro-structures unique to and possibly shared [2] across these forms. Our practice-based research addresses students’ development of narrative design skills and the question, “What is shared across narrative forms?”
Chapter
In this work we present a study that documents how a blended learning environment could enhance students’ meaningful learning practicing 21st Century Skills. This study examines the outcomes of an experience done with 119 students of an undergraduate course on “Information Technology” for Business at a University level education. Students had to practice 21st Century Skills regarding communication, information literacy and ICT literacy supported by a blendedlearning environment. Results show a significant increase in meaningful learning by the end of the course. This study illustrates the potential that blended learning environments offer for higher education.