Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 76, Issue 14, pp 15707–15733 | Cite as

Serious storytelling – a first definition and review

  • Artur LugmayrEmail author
  • Erkki Sutinen
  • Jarkko Suhonen
  • Carolina Islas Sedano
  • Helmut Hlavacs
  • Calkin Suero Montero


In human culture, storytelling is a long-established tradition. The reasons people tell stories are manifold: to entertain, to transfer knowledge between generations, to maintain cultural heritage, or to warn others of dangers. With the emergence of the digitisation of media, many new possibilities to tell stories in serious and non-entertainment contexts emerged. A very simple example is the idea of serious gaming, as in, digital games without the primary purpose of entertainment. In this paper, we introduce the term serious storytelling as a new potential media genre – defining serious storytelling as storytelling with a purpose beyond entertainment. We also put forward a review of existing potential application areas, and develop a framework for serious storytelling. We foresee several application areas for this fundamental concept, including wellbeing and health, medicine, psychology, education, ethical problem solving, e-leadership and management, qualitative journalism, serious digital games, simulations and virtual training, user experience studies, and online communication.


Serious games Serious storytelling Digital narratives E-learning Persuasive messages Digital interactive media Ubiquitous computation E-health Forensics Human-computer interaction User-experience Storytelling, digital storytelling Virtual reality Design science Education E-leadership Ubiqutious media Ambient media Smart media Journalism 


  1. 1.
    Alexander B (2011) The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media. Praeger Publishers, WestportGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. Alighieri, Divine Comedy. 1321 [Online]. Available:
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
  5. 5.
    Bachmayer S, Lugmayr A, Kotsis G (2010) Convergence of collaborative web approaches and interactive TV program formats. International Journal of Web Information Systems 6:74–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bernard SC (2011) Documentary Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction on Screen. Focal Press, WalthamGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bordwell D, Thompson K (1997) Film Art: An Introduction. McGraw-Hill Companies, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Campbell J, Cousineau P, and Brown SL (1990) The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work. New World Library, [Online]. Available:
  9. 9.
    Coats E, 22 Story Basics I have picked up at my time at Pixar. [Online]. Available:
  10. 10.
    Contently, Available:
  11. 11.
    Cook DA (2004) A History of Narrative Film. W W Norton & Company Incorporated, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Day D (2015) Exercise Without Failure: Building Fitness Apps As Narrative Game.” Model View Culture (Technology, culture, and diversity media), [Online]. Available:
  13. 13.
    Debra Malina P (2006) [Online]. Available: Narrative medicine: honoring the stories of illness. N Engl J Med 355(20):2160–2161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Denning S (2011) The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative. Jossey-BassGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Denning S Available:
  16. 16.
    Duveskog M (2015) Digital storytelling for HIV and AIDS education in Africa, Itä-Suomen yliopisto, publications of the University of Eastern Finland, dissertations in forestry and natural SciencesGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Duveskog M, Sutinen E (2013) Enriching student HIV awareness by digital storytelling. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 22(4):383–406Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Eco U (2014) The name of the rose, Reprint. Mariner BooksGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Felnhofer A, Kothgassner OD, Hauk N, Beutl L, Hlavacs H, Kryspin-Exner I (2014) [Online]. Available: Physical and social presence in collaborative virtual environments: Exploring age and gender differences with respect to empathy. Comput Hum Behav 31:272–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gagne R (1985) The Conditions of Learning, 4th edn. Rinehart & Winston, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
  22. 22.
    IST LIVE.[Online]. Available:
  23. 23.
    Johanneson P, Persons E (2014) An Introduction to Design Science. Springer, SingaporeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kayali F, Silbernagl M, Peters K, Mateus-Berr R, Reithofer A, Martinek D, Lawitschka A, and Hlavacs H (2016) Design Considerations for a Serious Game for Children after Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, Special Issue on Fun and Engaging Computing Technologies for Health, Entertainment Computing, no. 15, pp. 57–73Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kolog E, Vanhalakka-Ruoho M, Sutinen E (2014) E-counseling implementation: Students’ life stories and counseling technologies in perspective. Int J Educ Dev using ICT 10(3):32–48Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lamminen H, Lugmayr A, Niiranen S, and Kalli S (2003) Model of a Digital Video Based Broadcast Based Home Telecare System (DVB-HTCS), Telemedicine JournaTele -Health, vol. 8, no. 4Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Lawrence RL and Paige DS (2016) What our ancestor knew: teaching and learning through story telling, New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, vol. 2016, no. 149, pp. 63–73Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Lothe J (2000) Narrative in fiction and film: An introduction, vol 20. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Lugmayr A (2006a) The future is ‘ambient, Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 6074, 607403 Multimedia on Mobile Devices II Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lugmayr A (2006b) Implementation of ‘Looney’ - Designing an Interactive Game for Children on FogScreens, SIGGRAPH 2006Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lugmayr A (2007) Ambience, ambience, ambience - What are Ambient Media?, In Interactive TV: A Shared Experience, TISCP Adjunct Proceedings of EuroITV 2007, vol. 35.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Lugmayr A (2008a) Between artistic film making & the "technical IT, talk (invited). Hochschule fur Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf, INSIGHT OUT, BabelsbergGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lugmayr A (2008b) From Ambient Multimedia to Bio-Multimedia. In: Bruck PA, Boumans J (eds) High Performance Multimedia - A Reader on the Technological, Cultural and Economic Dynamics of Multimedia. IOS Press, Amsterdam, pp. 7–22Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Lugmayr A (2011a) Applying ‘Design Thinking’ As a Method for Teaching in Media Education, In Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, pp. 332–334 [Online]. Available: doi: 10.1145/2181037.2181100
  35. 35.
    Lugmayr A (2011b) Applying ‘Design Thinking’ as Method for Teaching in Media Education, In Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Confernece: Envisioning Future Media Environments, pp. 332–334Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lugmayr A (2012) Connecting the real world with the digital overlay with smart ambient media—applying Peirce’s categories in the context of ambient media. Multimedia Tools and Applications 58(2):385–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lugmayr A and Fu Y (2012) Research Design for Evaluating How to Engage Students with Urban Public Screens in Students’ Neighbourhoods, In Multimedia and Expo Workshops (ICMEW), IEEE International Conference on, 2012, pp. 358–363Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lugmayr A and Schoenbrunner O (2000) Practical approaches in CAVE programming, In Proceedings of the Seventh UK VR-SIG Conference (UKVRSIG) pp. 173–182Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lugmayr A, Niiranen S, Kalli S (2004) Digital Interactive TV and Metadata - Future Broadcast Multimedia. Springer-Verlag, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Lugmayr A, Saarinen T, and Tournut JP, (2006) The Digital Aura: Ambient Mobile Computer Systems, In 14th Euromicro International Conference on Parallel, Distributed, and Network-Based Processing (PDP 2006) p. 348–.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Lugmayr A, Pohl A, Müehhäueser A, Kallenbach J, Chorianopoulos K (2008) Ambient media and home entertainment. In: Lekakos G, Chorianopoulos K, Doukidis G (eds) Interactive digital television, technologies and applications. IGI Global, Hershey, PA, pp 112–129.
  42. 42.
    Lugmayr A, Adrian H, Golebiowski P, Jumisko-Pyykko S, Ubis F, Reymann S, Bruns V, Kybartaite A, Kauranen J, Matthes D (2008a) E = MC2+ 1: a fully digital, collaborative, high-definition (HD) production from scene to screen. Computers in Entertainment 6(2):1–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Lugmayr A, Reymann S, Kemper S, Dorsch T, and Roman P (2008b) Bits of Personality Everywhere: Implicit User-Generated Content in the Age of Ambient Media, In Parallel and Distributed Processing with Applications, 2008. ISPA ‘’08. International Symposium on, pp. 516–521Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Lugmayr A, Stockleben B, Risse T, Kaario J (2012a) Editorial: Re-thinking the future of semantic ambient media. Multimedia Tools and Applications 58(2):289–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Lugmayr A, Zou Y, Stockleben B, Lindfors K, Melakoski C (2012b) Categorization of ambient media projects on their business models, innovativeness, and characteristics - evaluation of Nokia Ubimedia MindTrek Award Projects of 2010. Multimedia Tools and Applications 66(1):1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Lugmayr A, Zou Y, Stockleben B, Lindfors K, and Melakoski C (2013a) Categorization of ambient media projects on their business models, innovativeness, and characteristics–evaluation of Nokia Ubimedia MindTrek Award Projects of 2010, Multimedia Tools and Applications, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 33–57, [Online]. Available: doi: 10.1007/s11042-012-1143-8
  47. 47.
    Lugmayr A, Serral E, Scherp A, Pogorelc B, Mustaquim M (2013b) [Online]. Available: Ambient media today and tomorrow. Multimedia Tools and Applications:1–31. doi: 10.1007/s11042-012-1346-z
  48. 48.
    Lugmayr A, Stockleben B, Zou Y, Anzenhofer S, and Jalonen M (2013c) Applying Design Thinking in the context of media management education, Multimedia Tools and Applications, pp. 1–39, [Online]. Available: doi: 10.1007/s11042-013-1361-8
  49. 49.
    Manfred J (2005) Narratology: a guide to the theory of narrative (vers. 1.8.). English Department, University of Cologne.
  50. 50.
    Manovich L (2001) The Language of New Media. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    S. McLeod (2009) Jean Piaget. [Online]. Available:
  52. 52.
    McLuhan M (1994) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    McQuail D (2010) McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory. SAGE Publications, [Online]. Available:
  54. 54.
    Meadows MS (2002) Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative. Pearson EducationGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Merriam-Webster Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. [Online]. Available:
  56. 56.
    Mor Y (2013) SNaP! Re-using, sharing and communicating designs and design knowledge using scenarios, narratives and patterns, Handbook of Design in Educ TechnolGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Munezero M, Montero CS, Mozgovoy M, and Sutinen E (2013) Exploiting sentiment analysis to track emotions in students’ learning diaries, Proceedings of the 13th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research, pp. 142–152Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Nuutinen J, Sutinen E, Botha A, Kommers P (2009) From mindtools to social mindtools: collaborative writing with woven stories. Br J Educ Technol 5(45):753–775Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Peirce CS (1867) On a New List of Categories, In Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. 7, pp. 287–298.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Peng C, Lugmayr A, and Vuorimaa P (2002) A digital television navigator, Multimedia Tools and Applications nl. Kluwer Academic Publishers 17, pp. 121–141Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Pogorelc B, Vatavu R-D, Lugmayr A, Stockleben B, Risse T, Kaario J, Lomonaco E, Gams M (2012) Semantic ambient media: From ambient advertising to ambient-assisted living. Multimedia Tools and Applications 58(2):399–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
  63. 63.
    Rafenerieunfall im Simulator (2000) Oesterreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), Austria, [Online]. Available:
  64. 64.
    Rakkolainen I and Lugmayr A (2007) Immaterial Display for Interactive Advertisements, In ACM Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, pp. 95–98Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Ryan M-L (2001) Narrative as virtual reality: immersion and interactivity in literature and electronic media. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p 399Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Sadik A (2008) Digital storytelling: A meaningful technology-integrated approach for engaged student learning. Educ Technol Res Dev 56(4):487–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Samsel J, Wimberley D (1998) Writing for interactive media. The complete guide. Allworth Press, New York, p 305Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Schanek R (2007) The story-centered curriculum, eLearn Magazine, [Online]. Available:
  69. 69.
    Schofield MJ, March DE, Woodford N (2004) Three-Dimensional Computer Visualisation of Forensic Pathology Data. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 25(1):60–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Smeda N, Dakich E, and Sharda N (2014) The effectiveness of digital storytelling in the classrooms: a comprehensive study, in Smart Learning Environments, vol. 6, no. 1Google Scholar
  71. 71.
  72. 72.
    Storycorps, Available:
  73. 73.
    Sutinen E, Big data for interfaith dialogue—a grand challenge for researchers.
  74. 74.
    Svahn M, Wahlund R, Denward M, Rademaker C (2015) A model for evaluating converged media for advertising purposes. In: Lugmayr A, Zotto CD (eds) Convergent Divergence - Crossdisciplinary Viewpoint on Media Convergence. Springer Verlag, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    U. of Virginia Library Dictionary of the History of Ideas. [Online]. Available:;
  76. 76.
    Uhlmann S and Lugmayr A (2008) Personalization algorithms for portable personality,In Proceedings of the 12th international conference on Entertainment and media in the ubiquitous era Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Uhlmann S, Lugmayr A (2011) Portable Personality and its Personalization Algorithms: An Overview and Directions. In: Lugmayr A, Franssila H, Nrnen P, Näränen P, Sotamaa O (eds) Media in the Ubiquitous Era: Ambient, Social and Gaming Media. IGI Global, Hershey, pp. 66–93Google Scholar
  78. 78., Scenarios. [Online]. Available:
  79. 79.
    van Doorn M (2006) Ambient Narratives and the Experience Economy, Contact Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 1Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Wells HG (1997)The War of the Worlds. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Wikipedia Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. [Online]. Available:
  82. 82.
    Wikipedia, “Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.” [Online]. Available:
  83. 83.
    Wikipedia Jean Piaget. [Online]. Available:
  84. 84.
    Wikipedia, Bloom’s Taxonomy. [Online]. Available:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Artur Lugmayr
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erkki Sutinen
    • 2
  • Jarkko Suhonen
    • 3
  • Carolina Islas Sedano
    • 3
  • Helmut Hlavacs
    • 4
  • Calkin Suero Montero
    • 3
  1. 1.Curtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia
  2. 2.University of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.University of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland
  4. 4.University of ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations