Plot, Spectacle, and Experience Contributions to the Design and Evaluation of Interactive Storytelling

University dissertation from Kista : Institutionen för data- och systemvetenskap (tills m KTH)

Abstract: Interactive storytelling is a new form of storytelling emerging in the crossroads of many scholarly, artistic, and industrial traditions. In interactive stories the reader/spectator moves from being a receiver of a story to an active participant. By allowing participants to influence the progression and outcome of the story new experiences will arise. This thesis has worked on three aspects of interactive storytelling: plot, spectacle, and experience. The first aspect is concerned with finding methods for combining the linear structure of a story, with the freedom of action required for an interactive experience. Our contribution has focused on a method for avoiding unwanted plot twists by predicting the progression of a story and altering its course if such twists are detected.The second aspect is concerned with supporting the storytelling process at the level of spectacle. In Aristotelian terms, spectacle refers to the sensory display that meets the audience of a drama and is ultimately what causes the experience. Our contribution focuses on graphically making changing emotions and social relations, important elements of dramatic stories in our vision, salient to players at the level of spectacle. As a result we have broadened the view of what is important for interactive storytelling, as well as what makes characters believable. So far not very much research has been done on evaluating interactive stories. Experience, the third aspect, is concerned with finding qualitative methods for evaluating the experience of playing an interactive story. In particular we were interested in finding methods that could tell us something about how a players experience evolved over time, in addition to qualities such as agency that have been claimed to be characteristic for interactive stories. Our contribution consists of two methods that we have developed and adapted for the purposes of evaluating interactive stories that can provide such information. The methods have been evaluated on three different interactive storytelling type games.