Virtual Stories 


Science Fiction ("The Veldt", Neuromancer, the Holodeck) has promised us fully immersive interactive narrative for decades.  In the 1980s and 90s, hype about artificial intelligence and virtual reality; the eagerly awaited marriage between video gaming and Hollywood; and (and perhaps less dramatically!) hypertext, suggested the promise was about to be fulfilled. In 1993, Kelso, Weybrauch and Bates wrote breathlessly:

"You find yourself immersed in a fantasy world with exciting characters and the possibility of many adventures. Although you control your own direction by choosing each action you make, you are confident that your experience will be good, because a master interactive story-teller subty controls your destiny." "Dramatic presence." Presence 2:1-15

But killer interactive fiction has not emerged.

Story been a driver/colonizer of both literary forms (poetry, drama, the novel) and mass media (print, radio, film, TV), but is it failing to conquer the interactive and procedural realm of the computer? This course will examine interactive narrative in theory and practise, asking questions such as:

We have experiments in interactive narrative,  but do we have an art form yet?
We have dramatic and technical theories of interactive narrative, but what have they produced?
Can computer fiction fulfill utopian dreams for text without closure, without linearity, without central authority?
Are games and story incompatible - or contrariwise - are there already good stories in existing games?
Are  Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMORG) the amateur dramatic clubs of our time?
What is the state of the art for intelligent agents and virtual characters?
We have graphics engines, and physics engines, but is the quest for a narrative engine doomed to fail?
What is the relationship between interactive narrative: and participatory theater; and reality TV?

Books and Articles
I will be adding to this loosely chronological list as summer progresses

"Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in CyberSpace," Janet Murray,  1997
"Cybertext:Perspectives on Ergodic Literature," Espen Aarseth, 1997
"Narrative as Virtual Reality" Marie-Laure Ryan, 2001
"Eloquent Images: Word and Image in the Age of New Media, Mary Hocks and Michelle Kendrick, eds, 2003
"Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling," Marie-Laure Ryan, ed, 2004
"First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game," Noah Wardrip Fruin and Pat Harrigan, eds, 2004
"Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling," Chris Crawford, 2004
"Interactive Storytelling: Techniques for 21st Century Fiction," Andrew Glassner, 2005