4th International Conference

Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges

Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology

Hybrid - Corfu/Online, May 13-14, 2022

Interactive Storytelling & Narrative Design Frameworks for Serious Games
Date and Time: 13/05/2022 (13:50-15:45)
Elpida Panourgia, Eleni Mouri

Dramatic Storytelling had always been a deeply researched and studied topic for centuries. Even in 300 B.C, Aristotle generated his own theories on story structure in Poetics, which derived from studying the structure of the ancient Greek Plays. Today the audience interacts with the story material; they are not merely a viewer of a story, they are active participants in their own story, created by their choices. This fact presents a great challenge to all story creators and narrative designers who plan on creating games or interactive material with storytelling value. The challenge becomes greater if the developers intend to use the great power of interactive dramatic storytelling and its influence on people’s cognitive experiences, to create serious games for other purposes than pure entertainment. Therefore, a big question appears itself in the story theorists’, the game developers’, even the educators’ minds; How can someone create a fully engaging and interesting story intended for player interactivity, inside the scope and limitations of serious game development with an application to youth education?

Today there are many theoretical approaches and studies based on the educational potential of video games for young audiences and the importance that storytelling has in engaging the attention and therefore helping young people learn through playing. However, there are gaps in the current literature regarding the practical aspects of creating an effective interactive storytelling game that has indirect educational value -seamlessly combined with a highly entertaining one- for young people to engage with the material and learn in the process. When designing an engaging serious game, a person has to think like a storyteller, a game designer, and an educator at the same time. This fact leads potential game developers to be overwhelmed by the scattered information, as well as great ideas -and their educational potential- being lost along the difficult way of achieving such a goal. The aim of this research is to collect all the practical information, tools, and strategies and provide guidance to every person who wants to achieve the task of creating a great interactive storytelling serious game for educational purposes.

This research is based on the practical aspects of creating an interactive story for a serious game intended for educating youth. Therefore, the main methodology that will be used during the research is the practical creation of an interactive storytelling game demo from start to finish. In this research, we will examine and gather some of the theoretical frameworks and tools needed for the creation of such a game and will apply this knowledge to create an interactive storytelling game. After the completion of the game, to test our hypothesis that the strategies and methodologies used can be beneficial for creating similar games for educational purposes, we will test the game to educational environments and strive to create new educational ecosystems in and out of our game-world. A successful attempt of creating an interactive storytelling serious game would be signified by (a) creating the maximum engagement possible for the students, who would get in the flow as they interact with the story of the game, (b) achieving learning and educational outcomes during the game, (c) starting a discussion about the game and its outcomes among the students themselves -as a commercial game would-, which could extend even further the educational value of the game itself and find its application in the real world.

In this paper, we will examine the theoretical framework needed for the creation of an interactive story for games, which is the first and most important step for creating an interactive storytelling serious game. This study will serve as a guideline, and shed a light on all the differences between traditional and interactive storytelling, as well as provide tools for the potential game developer to use in their own interactive storytelling attempts.

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