Project 4

| Part 1 | Introduction | Narrative Structure | Character and Identity | User Interaction | Conclusion | References | Personal Site |


Traditionally, the plot of stories remains in complete control of the storyteller. Whether the story is written or being told orally, the individual presenting the information decides what action takes place. However, the advent of computers sparked an interest in more interactive stories. Stories that go beyond traditional (and untraditional) storytelling techniques. Computer-based interactive stories give users even more control than was possible previously with other types of interactive stories, like choose your own adventure books, because the creator of the story has many more options and opportunities for engagement.

Even though computers give the creators of such stories the chance to develop more interactive and engaging material, Prensky (2001) and Mateas (2001) point out that it is difficult to blend narratives and interactivity. Prensky (2001) explains that users want and need interactivity in digital spaces, but it is difficult to provide this when writers implement certain structural techniques to a story to create an emotional impact. For instance, plot twists and surprises depend on the author and it is difficult to hand over some of that control to the user in a meaningful way. Mateas (2001) takes a more thereotical approach and states that part of the reason this is so difficult to accomplish is because there isn't a thereotical framework to utilize when developing interactive stories. Establishing theories for interactive storytelling is something Mateas, Stern, Ryan, and others worked on developing.

The remainder of this critical essay will analyze my own interactive story, titled Outbreak: Panacea, through theoretical frameworks identified over the years. In particular, I will be analyzing the narrative structure, character and identity, and user interaction. Because each of these 3 factors are so closely related to one another, I invite readers to progress through the essay however they choose.