Narratives and Interactive  
Lecture 01 Introduction to Narratives and  
Interactive Storytelling  
Edirlei Soares de Lima  
What is Interactive Storytelling?  
Interactive storytelling is a form of digital entertainment  
based on the combination of interactivity and storytelling.  
Objective: create dramatic and engaging narrative experiences for  
users, while allowing them to intervene with ongoing plots and change  
the way that the story unfolds.  
Key challenge: balance the level of interactivity with the  
consistency of the generated stories.  
Interactive storytelling is not just a game with a story.  
Story, Narrative, Plot  
Story: all events referenced both explicitly  
and inferred in a narrative.  
Plot: refers to the sequence of events  
inside of a story which affect other events  
through the principle of cause and effect.  
Narrative: the choice of which events to  
tell and in what order to tell them. Thus, it  
is a representation or a specific  
manifestation of the story.  
Narratives and Interactive Storytelling  
Fully Traditional Stories  
Fully traditional stories are the classic form of storytelling,  
which has been used for centuries.  
Examples: films, books, plays, cave paintings, ...  
Interactive Traditional Stories  
Interactive traditional stories combine the tightly controlled  
narratives of fully traditional stories with a degree of  
The main plot itself can’t be changed, or at the very least can’t be  
changed in any significant way.  
Example: Marvel's The Avengers: Iron Man - Mark VII  
Multiple-Ending Stories  
Multiple-ending stories follow the same structure as  
interactive traditional stories, but at the end users are allowed  
to choose between two or more possible endings.  
End 1  
Event 1  
Event 2  
Event 3  
Event N  
End 2  
End 3  
Example: Chrono Trigger  
Branching Path Stories  
Branching path stories include multiple decision points  
throughout the story, allowing users to make a series of  
choices as he/she progresses through the narrative.  
Example: Choose Your Own Adventure books  
Branching Path Stories  
Story network of the Choose Your  
Own Adventure book The Mystery of  
Chimney Rock (1979).  
Open-Ended Stories  
Open-ended stories are an evolution of the branching path  
formula. While branching path stories retain a strong writer-  
controlled structure that moves the user from decision point  
to decision point, open-ended stories are more open to user  
There is no explicit branching network and the narrative is usually  
generated by a computer algorithm (such as planning algorithms).  
Example: Logtell  
Fully Player-Driven Stories  
Player-driven stories don’t have a main plot. The narrative  
emerges from the player’s interactions with virtual characters  
and environments.  
This type of story is usually implemented as a simulation.  
Example: The Sims  
How to create an interesting  
We can start by following a basic narrative pattern (also called  
narrative structure).  
A narrative pattern emerges from the fact that most narratives  
share several common characteristics.  
These common characteristics were first described by Aristotle.  
According to him, each act contains predictable elements common to  
all stories.  
Examples of narratives structures: three-act structure and the  
hero’s journey.  
Three-Act Structure  
Act One:  
Contains exposition or a summary of who are the main characters, their  
background story (setting) and what they want (motivation).  
It also contains a inciting incident (call to action) that leads the protagonist  
to leave the security of home.  
Three-Act Structure  
Act Two:  
Contains a series of challenges and obstacles (rising action) that prevent  
the protagonist from easily achieving his goal.  
It also leads to some sort of a final conflict (climax), which puts the  
protagonist and antagonist against each other.  
Three-Act Structure  
Act Three:  
Features the resolution of the story and its subplots.  
It presents a series of events that resolves the conflicts that have arisen  
(not necessary with happily endings).  
The Hero’s Journey (Monomyth)  
The hero's journey is a narrative  
pattern that involve a hero who goe
on an adventure, and in a decisive  
crisis wins a victory, and then come
home changed or transformed.  
The pattern was proposed by Josep
Campbell and it comprises 17 stage
Narrative Theories  
Starting from the assumption that stories share certain  
common characteristics, narrative theories aim at explaining  
the narrative phenomena.  
Examples of theorists:  
Vladimir Propp  
Roland Barthes  
Tzvetan Todorov  
Claude Levi-Strauss  
Propp Theory  
Propp examined 100 Russian fairy tales, and showed that they  
could all be described by 31 typical narrative functions (such  
as villainy, hero’s departure, reward).  
Propp also showed that these functions have a chronological order  
that defines the basic structure of a fairy tale.  
He also concluded that all characters could be summarized into only  
seven character types.  
Propp Theory  
Character types:  
. The villain: an evil character that fight against the hero.  
2. The dispatcher: a character who illustrates the need for the hero's  
quest and sends the hero off.  
3. The helper: a typically magical entity that comes to help the hero in  
his quest.  
4. The princess and her father: gives the task to the hero, identifies the  
false hero, marries the hero.  
5. The donor: prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object.  
6. The hero: the character who reacts to the dispatcher and donor  
characters, fight against the villain, and marry the princess.  
. False hero: takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the  
Propp Theory  
Narrative functions (some examples):  
Villain appears (e.g. trying to find jewels, children, etc.).  
Villain gains information about the victim.  
Villain attempts to trick the victim.  
Hero is fooled by the villain.  
Hero acquires a magical agent.  
Hero and Villain in direct combat.  
Villain is defeated (killed).  
False hero claims Hero’s success.  
Hero marries and ascends the throne.  
Interactive Storytelling  
Plot Generation:  
Manually authored branching networks.  
Planning algorithms (character-based vs plot-based).  
User Interaction:  
GUI interfaces, speech recognition, virtual reality interaction, hand-  
drawn sketches, social networks, …  
Visual representation of the narratives.  
Text, images, video, 2D/3D animations, comics, virtual reality,  
augmented reality, …  
Project Assignment 1  
) Identify the narrative in your project:  
The project includes a narrative integrated with the system (the  
system tells a narrative)? If so, describe the narrative and try to  
identify branching points.  
If your system is not designed to tell a story, can you describe the use  
of the system as a narrative? Create a narrative describing a typical  
user interacting with the system. Try to add branching points to  
highlight the different actions the user can perform while using the