Summer Scriptwriting Base Shangri La: Interactive Narrative Design by Hartmut Koenitz

Hartmut’s background

Researcher of Interactive Design at Utrecht
Artist: video and installations shown in major European cities
Ph.D. in the US
Car mechanic :slight_smile:

Interactive Digital Narrative:

Work is dynamic + audience as participants can take various forms (VR, museum piece)
They are not literary texts or cinematic works

Different narrative structures"
Kishotenketsu (Asian)
African Oral Storytelling

Roy Ascott - 1968 - one of the first authors of IDN - relations between parts are not fixed and can be changed by the intervention of the spectator

Hamlet on the Holodeck: The future of narrative in the cyberspace by Janet Murray

Fundamental qualities of the digital medium:

  • procedural - a computer can execute a program by itself
  • participatory - readers or viewers become participants as they influence the way the program processes the data
  • spatial - experience is a traversal of space
  • encyclopedic - no practical limits to content depth

Immersion (experience captivates us); Agency (the audience can make meaningful changes); transformation (both the interactor and the work are transformed - by building new skills, or being able to change a space with which we interact, gaining new understanding of reality)

Implications of using the wrong narratives:

Problems with current political narratives are that they’re not complex - and misrepresent the reality. They provide an opening for extremist propaganda in its inability to contain competing narratives.

The example: pointing out missing topics in the dominating narrative and claiming the people in power have to be lying if they’re neglecting these issues.


IYAITI - a game about living in Carribean poor conditions
Firewatch - game

The last hijack interactive - experience in which you can see all perspectives of the piracy situation in Somalia

(!!!) Fort MCMoney - game with a discussion forum, in which you get a higher position as you progress in the game - rewarding more people who invested more time and gained more knowledge of the problem

When it’s worth considering Interactive Narrative design? If we say yes to these questions about what our project needs to achieve:

do traditional forms impose problematic limits to the project
should the audience have an active part in shaping the experience or the outcome
does the project require representation fo many different perspectives or competing narratives
do I want the audience to make decisions and see consequences from them
do I want to make large amounts of data accessible and comprehensible
do I want users to be able to add content
do I need the ability to keep content current
is the ability to enable different experiences through replay crucial?

Tip: narrative gaps are great as they provide space for new idea, scenarios, characters

Design strategies:

Cyberbardic principle: the author is not the same as literary or film author; you’re an architect - designing opportunities to explore and experience;
Readers/viewers are interactors

Motivation principle: Non-trivial effort, there needs to be a reward for putting work in else the interactor loses interest

Initial Interest Principle

Continued Motivation Principle - carefully manage interactions interest by offering enough to keep them going without revealing all

Concrete strategies:
ambiguous choices
small narrative gaps
temporary removal of control
avoid exceedingly hard/plainly obvious scenarios
use delayed consequences (interactor has to know his choice will influence, possibly, the events in the future)
script the interactor (properly frame the interactor in a role)

The postmodern condition is the crisis of representation (Lyotard 1979)

What is this doing here? I am attending a school on narratives, games, and theater and I’m looking in it for new ways for us to develop both our narrative and cultural work and ideas. I will be regularly publishing notes from the lectures and workshops over the coming days.

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