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Interactive Digital Storytelling:. Synthesizing Storytelling, Training, and Video Game Design Theory. Bill Watson Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. Stories for Training. Problem-based Learning Case-based Learning Scenario-based Learning Narrative-based Learning.

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interactive digital storytelling

Interactive Digital Storytelling:

Synthesizing Storytelling, Training, and Video Game Design Theory

Bill WatsonIndiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

stories for training
Stories for Training
  • Problem-based Learning
  • Case-based Learning
  • Scenario-based Learning
  • Narrative-based Learning
interactive digital storytelling3
Interactive Digital Storytelling
  • Primary approaches include:
    • Generative computer graphics, animated storytelling for film (Massive in LOTR films)
    • Human-computer interaction (computer agency in interactions)
    • Computer game design
    • Artificial intelligence (Spierling, 2005)
video games for training
Video Games for Training
  • Extremely popular
    • Anderson and Dill (2000) report that in a survey with a sample of 227, 88% of the female, and 97% of the male college students were video game players.
    • Out-grossed box office sales in 2002
  • Increasingly touted for potential for training and instruction
    • (Aldrich, 2004; Foreman, Gee, Herz, Hinrichs, Prensky, and Sawyer, 2004; Quinn, 2005)
  • Motivation is the promise (flow theory)
  • Support multiple learning outcomes, from behaviorism (practice, feedback and reinforcement) to constructivism (microworlds)
video games and narrative
Video Games and Narrative
  • How do games use narrative? Effectively?
    • Myst
    • The Sims
    • Silent Hill
    • Halo
    • Tomb Raider
    • Madden NFL
    • Half-life 2
    • Guitar Hero
    • Shenmue 2
    • Ms. Pacman
video games and narrative6
Video Games and Narrative
  • Video games utilize narrative in a variety of ways:
    • Rouse
      • out-of-game (cut-scenes),
      • in-game (dialog, text, game setting, NPC behaviors)
      • external materials (manuals, packaged materials)
    • Jenkins
      • evocative spaces (draw upon existing narrative competencies- linear)
      • enacting stories (result from player movement- broadly defined goals and localized incidents)
      • embedded narratives (unstructured vs. pre-structured but embedded in game space)
      • emergent narratives (players define goals and create own stories)
narrative vs gameplay
Narrative vs. Gameplay
  • “Interactivity is almost the opposite of narrative; narrative flows under the direction of the author, while interactivity depends on the player for motive power.” -Ernest Adams (1999)
  • Designer vs. Player story
  • High level vs. Low level narrative
  • Intensive interactivity can result in forgetting the high level narrative
  • Repetitive gameplay can bore some players while narrative can bore others
  • Player motivations and supported gameplay moves (Lindley, 2005):
    • Bartle’s achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers
    • audience: moves for interaction with NPCs and reading material
    • performer: moves expressing predefined character roles and selection of quests
    • immersionist: moves deepening immersion, personalization and development of a persona, freedom within context
narrative vs gameplay8
Narrative vs. Gameplay
  • Structures of interactive narrative (Lindley, 2005):
    • Tree
    • Exploratorium (linear structure allowing for exploration)
    • Parallel plot structure (player can switch between different parallel versions)
    • Modulated (allows multiple choices, but access to new interactions only possible after different parts of story have been experienced- game levels)
    • Open structure in which story elements are associated with different physical spaces, allows exploration between spaces (typical of early adventure games)
    • Open structure with no story-arc (simulation, strategy, MMORPGS)
truly interactive storytelling
Truly Interactive Storytelling
  • Object-oriented stories (game objects encapsulate their own story potential)
    • At low levels, characters advance by interacting with objects, but little impact is made to the narrative at a higher level
    • The use of plot controllers to pre-define and activate narratives (Chris Crawford’s Erasmatron or Storytron)
  • Start with training goals
  • Define narrative and rules of context
  • Consider competition, motivation and immersion (characterization, drama, back-story, tension, etc.)
      • Challenge
      • Curiosity
      • Fantasy
      • Control (Malone & Lepper, 1987)
  • Consider trainee interaction, performance, reflection, and feedback both internal and external to the game
in conclusion
In Conclusion
  • Games use narrative in different ways
  • Players are motivated by different types of experiences
  • Different game experiences are conducive to different types of learning
  • There is often a balance between interactivity and narrative
  • Much research is needed and for this occur, game development needs to be made more accessible to the everyday trainer

Adams, E. (1999). Three Problems for Interactive Storytellers. The Designer's Notebook Retrieved October 21, 2006, from

Aldrich, C. (2005). Learning by doing: A comprehensive guide to simulations, computer games, and pedagogy in e-learning and other educational experiences. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Anderson, C., & Dill, K. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772-790.

Foreman, J., Gee, J. P., Herz, J. C., Hinrichs, R., Prensky, M., & Sawyer, B. (2004). Game-Based learning: How to delight and instruct in the 21st century. EDUCAUSE Review, 39(5), 50-66.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Game design as narrative architecture. In K. Salen & E. Zimmerman (Eds.), The Game Design Reader (pp. 670-689). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Lindley, C. A. (2005). Story and narrative structure in computer games. In B. Bushoff (Ed.), Developing Interactive Narrative Content: sagas_sagasnet reader. Munich: High Text.

Malone, T. W., & Lepper, M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.), Aptitude, learning and instruction (Vol. Volume 3: Cognitive and affective process analysis, pp. 223-253). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Quinn, C. N. (2005). Engaging learning: Designing e-learning simulation games. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Rouse, R. (2005). Game Design Theory and Practice (second ed.). Plano, Texas: Wordware Publishing, Inc.

Spierling, U. (2005). Interactive Digital Storytelling: Towards a hybrid conceptual approach. Paper presented at the DIGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views - Worlds in Play, Vancouver.