Interactive Storytelling

Spring, 2019 | Meets: Tuesday/Thursday 2pm-3:15pm

Many forms of media are centered around story, narrative, and world-building. In recent years, however, some media have introduced new and interesting ways for narratives to involve play — through making choices that direct the story, allowing audiences to meaningfully interact, and otherwise make storytelling “interactive.” In this course, we will engage with interactive storytelling in media, through a focus on popular playful media — digital games, role-playing, board and card games, and escape rooms.

We will discuss the history of story and narrative as it has played out in these media, through a dive into relevant academic scholarship, through regular play, and through design. Students will play and prototype at least three different interactive narrative experiences over the course of the term — a text-based piece of “interactive fiction,” a tabletop card or role-playing game, and an “escape box” (educational escape room) experience. Students will encounter a number of ways that storytelling has been made interactive through mobile and console video games, alternate reality games, tabletop “story games,” and through visiting a local escape room.

No experience with games (storytelling or otherwise!) is required, and no previous experience with game design is expected. Students will be expected to critically engage with interactive storytelling across multiple forms, to wrestle with their understandings of these media through design, and to articulate arguments for understanding the implications of playful narrative media for other media. This course will feature no in-class exams, with one short take-home midterm examination, several play and design experiences, and a final analytic argument paper.

If you have any questions about this or any other course (or anything else on this website), please don’t hesitate to email Dr. Duncan at his first name dot his last name [at]