Workshop on Users and Evaluation of Interactive Storytelling

ICIDS 2010


1 Introduction

Interactive Storytelling (IS) is a multi-disciplinary research domain, which has attracted a lot of interest amongst scholars in recent years. Research in the area tends to be technology-driven and a wide range of applications and systems have been implemented and studied over the last two decades.

However, despite a very strong activity and focused and coordinated research towards specific aspects of IS (e.g. development of tools, applications and systems); the field is still to publish seminal work on connecting the notions and concepts of IS to users’ experiences.  We are still to thoroughly investigate the cognitive, emotional and behavioral aspects of IS and establish the relationship between users and interactive narratives, their constituent parts, and consumption. This knowledge gap is a sensitive issue and hinders the field’s potential to move forward and produce further meaningful advances on interactive narratives’ design. To the same extent, it is difficult to see how the IS medium can be popularized and spread across genres and media without a clear understanding and assessment of the way in which audiences react to it.

The main purpose of this workshop is to bring the study of users’ experiences of interactive stories to the forefront of the IS research agenda.  Our approach is to investigate IS from a user’s perspective and work towards the identification of the variables, dynamics and methods contributing to understand the user/medium relationships. Workshop participants will join in discussing the relevant practices, theories, approaches, and concepts so as to properly shape the complex experience of perceiving such artifacts and applications. Ultimately, the aim of the workshop is to gather knowledge towards a model for measuring user engagement in experiencing interactive narratives.

2 Objectives

As suggested, the main purpose of the workshop is to advance in the definition of a useful model for measuring user’s reaction to interactive narratives. In order to do so, a number of significant variables need to be identified so as to quantify and explain the user experience in consuming IS productions. The workshop will investigate a wide range of discipline so as to identify specific and appropriate techniques, procedures and methods for properly measuring the experience and its effects on receivers.

3  Method

As workshop organizers, we conducted preliminary theoretical work and outlined three factors towards a model of users’ narrative: narrative (a), formal (b), and decisions (c). These aspects will form the basis for discussions at the workshop. Factor (a) (narrative) concerns the variables that reception studies have largely considered to be meaningful in describing the user experience’s of audiovisual narratives: engagement [1], presence [2], perceived realism [3], and identification with characters [4]. Also, we take into account the contributions of narratology researchers, whom relate the structure of the stories with its perception, like Propp [5], Tomachevski [6], Todorov [7], Laurel, [8], Murray [9] and Ryan [10]. Factor (b) (formal) focuses on elements derived from the audiovisual and interactive representation of stories, like visual communication [11] and reception [12], audiovisual cues [13], formal structures [14], production pace [15] or physical interfaces [16]. Finally, factor (c) (decisions) variables used in different domains (as psychology, sociology or artificial intelligence) to explain decision making [17] and human decision structures [18, 19, 20]. The half-day workshop, will be structured so as to offer participants the opportunity to discuss the factors discussed above (an others emerging) and their contribution to a generic model of interactive narratives’ reception. We will plan activities so as to explore relevant concepts towards efficient discussions. We will introduce interactive narrative through an example and will then form three working groups in order to discuss the influent variables and dynamics present during the interactive narrative experience (each group will report their reflections and findings). A panel discussion session focused on measurement of isolated variables will follow. Finally, each participant will participate towards the creation of a model and prizes will be awarded for the best models.

4 Participants

The workshop will be limited to twenty participants so as to preserve active participation. There will be an online subscription process prior to the conference.


1.Busselle, R., Bilandzic, H.: Measuring Narrative Engagement. Media Psychology, 12(4), pp. 321--347 (2009).

2. Wirth, W., Hartmann, T., Böcking, S., Vorderer, P., Klimmt, Ch., Schramm, H., Saari, T., Laarni, J., Ravaja, N., Ribeiro Gouveia, F., Biocca, F., Sacau, A., Jäncke, L., Baumgartner, T., Jäncke, P.: A Process Model of the Formation of Spatial Presence Experiences. Media Psychology, 9, pp. 493--525 (2007).

3.Shapiro, M.A., Peña-Herborn, J., Hancock, J.: Realism, Imagination, and Narrative Video Games. In: P. Vorderer and J. Bryant (eds.) Playing Videogames. Motives, Responses, and Consequences, pp. 275--289.  Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah (2006).

4.Cohen, J.: Defining identification: a theoretical look at the identification of audiences with media characters. Mass Communication & Society, 4(3), pp. 245--264 (2001).

5.Propp, V. Morphology of the folktale. University of Texas Press, Austin (1986).

6.Tomachevski, B. :Teoría de la literatura. Aki, Madrid. (1982).

7.Todorov, T.: Las categorías del relato literario. In Barthes, R. (ed) Análisis estructural del relato, pp. 155-191, Ediciones Buenos Aires, Barcelona (1982).

8.Laurel, B.: Computer as Theater. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1991).

9.Murray, J.: Hamlet on the Holodeck. Free Press, New York (1997).

10.Ryan, M.L. Avatars of Story. Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis (2006).

11.Arnheim, R., (1969), Visual Thinking, University of Califórnia Press, USA

12.Gross, J. J. & Levenson, R. W, (1995), Emotion Elicitation Using Films, Cognition and Emotion, 1995, 9 (1), 87 –108.

13.Block, B., (2001), The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media, Focal Press, USA

14.Krasner, Jon, (2008), Motion Graphic Design: Applied History and Aesthetics, Focal Press, USA

15.Lang, A., Bolls, P., Potter, R.F., Kawahara, K.: The effects of production pacing and arousing content on the information processing of television messages. Journal of Broadcasting of Electronic Media, Fall, pp. 451-475 (1999).

16.Lombard, M., Ditton, T.B., Grabe, M.E., Reich, R. D. The role of screen size in viewer responses to television fare. Communication reports, 10(1), 95-106 (1997).

17.Gee, J.P.: What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy, Palgrave Macmillan, New York (2002).

18.Iyengar, S., (2010), The Art of Choosing, TED talk, February 2010, _iyengar_on_the_art_of_choosing.html

19.Ariely, D. (2009), Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions, Harper Collins,  USA

20.Lehrer, J., (2010), How We Decide, Mariner Books, USA


The workshop:

User engagement, Interactive Storytelling, Evaluation