Responsive Narratives: Analysis of Methods for Interactive Storytelling Design

Interactive storytelling is a quickly developing practice that is changing the way in which we present stories to an audience. Interactive narratives allow us to control the content and outcome of the story through both direct choices and subtle ways of interaction, where the story is impacted by character relationships or interaction with objects in the virtual story environment. As stories are starting to become responsive and personalised, new challenges in terms of how to design and analyse the story structure are surfacing.

Whilst video games and narrative have had a complicated history, new digital narrative artefacts are emerging today where the focus is moved on the experience of the story itself. By taking part in this project, you will work on documenting and analysing both story-focused games  (such as Heavy Rain) and interactive film experiences (such as Netflix’s Bandersnatch), where the choices and actions performed in the storyworlds create a different story experience and ending. 

During this summer school project you will help investigate the narrative design techniques and authoring logic behind a series of case studies. You will explore and analyse how these audiovisual story experiences are designed in order to allow the player to change the story. Through repeated play-throughs, you will record information about the elements that create story variations, such as choice options, decision events and modes of interaction. This information will then be organised as flowcharts / blueprints in order to help visualise the narrative structure. These visualisations will further contribute to a larger research project on interactive storytelling practice.

This is a great opportunity for someone passionate about narrative design for games, interactive film, game level design or interactive fiction, looking to further their knowledge of interactive storytelling through hands-on analysis.

Required Skills

We are looking for one student with the following essential skills:

  • Experience in design software that can support the creation of charts and branching structures - e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator, LucidChart 
  • Experience of playing video games across genres/ at various difficulty levels - familiar with different gameplay environments/controls

The following would also be advantageous:

  • Familiarity with  a range of story-focused video games 
  • Experience in working with JavaScript 
  • Knowledge of interactive media programming techniques 
  • Knowledge of interactive storytelling practices

How to Apply

For more details on the summer school application process (including eligibility and funding) please go here: https://digitalcreativity.ac.uk/news/dc-labs-summer-school-2021   

If you would like to ask any informal questions about the research project, please contact Teodora Fartan on tsf510@york.ac.uk and Marian Ursu on marian.ursu@york.ac.uk 

For questions about the programme, logistics etc, please contact Ella Eyre, DC Labs Administrator, on enquiries@digitalcreativity.ac.uk   

Supervisors

Professor Marian Ursu, Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media

Teodora Fartan, PhD Researcher, Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media