Card-Based Methods in Interactive Narrative
, Teun Dubbelman
, Noam Knoller
, Mads Haahr
, Digdem Sezen
and Tonguc Ibrahim Sezen
Professorship Interactive Narrative Design, HKU University of the Arts
Utrecht, Nieuwekade 1, Postbox 1520, 3500 BM Utrecht, Netherlands
School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Faculty of Communications, Istanbul University, Kaptani Derya Ibrahim Pasa
Sk., 34452 Beyazit, Istanbul, Turkey
Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Friedrich-Heinrich-Allee 25,
47475 Kamp-Lintfort, Germany
Abstract. Paper prototyping plays an important role in the creation of inter-
active digital narratives (IDN). A structured prototyping approach can help
improve the process of making IDNs. In particular, pre-made, specialized card
designs can speed up the process considerably and also help in the transition to
digital prototypes. In this workshop, we will introduce structured methods and
use pre-made cards in successive rounds of working towards a detailed proto-
type. Participant’s feedback by means of questionnaires will also be used as a
basis for future research.
Keywords: Interactive digital narrative Interactive storytelling
Paper prototyping Education Pedagogy Interactive narrative design
Paper prototyping plays an important role in the creation of interactive digital narratives
(IDN) (e.g. ). A structured prototyping approach can help improve the process of
creating IDNs. In particular, pre-made, specialized card designs can speed up the
process considerably and also help in the transition to digital prototypes. In this
workshop, we will introduce structured methods and use pre-made cards in successive
rounds of working towards a detailed prototype. We will also use this opportunity to
evaluate different approaches through questionnaires and interviews.
©Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018
R. Rouse et al. (Eds.): ICIDS 2018, LNCS 11318, pp. 552–555, 2018.
2 Paper Prototyping
Paper-based approaches are often observed in the practice of interactive narrative
design, for example in workshops  (see Fig. 1), but also in presentations at venues
such as the Narrative Summit at the Games Developer Conference often show index
cards or post-its on the wall of design companies and game studios.
2.1 Related Work
While the use of such paper-based methods is certainly methodological, it is striking
how arbitrary its application in interactive narrative design appears. In contrast, spe-
cialized approaches towards card-based prototyping exist in game design [2–4] or for
user interfaces . Similarly, pre-made cards exist as tools to facilitate general design
ideation . In the case of creative writing, Storymatic’s cards
are used by writers to
generate story ideas through the combination of cards with the goal to create a non-
Card games provide additional inspiration for paper-based prototyping. In the
storytelling card game Once Upon A Time  players co-create a story using cards
Fig. 1. Paper-based prototyping at 2016 ACM TVX workshop 
Card-Based Methods in Interactive Narrative Prototyping 553
containing tropes from fairy tales. The goal for each player –as storyteller - is to lead
their respective story to its ending without being replaced by other potential story-
tellers. If a player mentions a trope on a card owned by another player, the other player
can take over the story and move the plot in a new direction. Thus, players must
recognize and use story tropes but also should be creative and try avoiding them. Once
Upon A Time trope cards have been suggested as a writing aid for linear ﬁction  but
the game mechanic can be seen inspirational for IDN creation. In particular, the spatial
or thematic exploration points within the ﬁctional world can be seen as precursors of
interactive narrative branching points.
2.2 Interactive Narrative Prototyping
There is thus an opportunity for prototyping cards which are purpose-made for inter-
active narratives. On this backdrop, we have developed several versions of paper
design cards (see Fig. 2for an example) and will use this material for the workshop.
For example, the cards in Fig. 1represent beats –narrative units –in the IDN
system ASAPS . They are an intermediate step between free-form cards and using
the actual program and while they can be used for general purpose they are especially
designed to enable rapid prototyping for a particular platform.
Fig. 2. Four cards from one of the sets.
554 H. Koenitz et al.
3 Workshop Format
The half-day workshop kicks off with an introduction to the topic. A Research-through-
Workshop (RtW) approach (thematic introductions, brief directed discussions, col-
laborative sketching and reasoned comparisons), developed in the organizers’previous
workshops, will be employed to produce insights through collective brainstorming at
the conference and online. The process places emphasis on informal discussion, is
programmatically open-ended, and will produce raw data, which will be accessible to
the research community through a public website.
The workshop is designed for up to 20 participants. After a short introduction,
participants will be divided into groups. They will start with the same material to
develop an interactive narrative prototype, but use different sets of prototyping cards in
iterative steps. At the end of the workshop, the results will be compared and evaluated.
This data is intended to generate insights for education and future research.
4 Call for Participation
We invite participants to our half-day workshop on paper-based prototyping for
interactive digital narratives. Participants will learn how to apply a structured approach
to prototyping, using purpose-made cards. In the process of developing a prototype,
participants will get to know several card-based formats and through their feedback
will help us to improve the card sets. The call for the workshop will be posted at http://
interactivenarrativedesign.org/icids2018ws/. Results will also be shared at this location.
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