Narrative Intelligibility and Closure in Interactive Systems

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8230)


In this article we define various aspects, or parameters, of interactive narrative systems and present them as a framework that can help authors, creators and designers to conceive, analyze, or prioritize the narrative goals of a given system. We start by defining the Author-Audience distance (AAD), which in turn can be seen as a function of Narrative Intelligibility. AAD can also be influenced by the intended or unintended level of abstractedness or didascalicity (i.e. figurativeness) of a given narrative. We define narrative intelligibility in complementarity with the related notion of Narrative Closure. We also make a distinction between the goals of the system and the goals of the narrative that it mediates, and consider the proposed parameters at two interrelated levels of analysis: the system level and the embedded narrative level, as the normative values and goals of these two levels should not be taken for granted.


Narrative Intelligibility Narrative Closure Interactive Narrative Interactive Storytelling Emergent Narratives System Goals Author-Audience distance Narrative Paradox Abstract Narratives Didascalic Narratives Interactivity non-linear narratives Edutainment 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Jennett, C., Cox, A.L., Cairns, P., Dhoparee, S., Epps, A., Tijs, T., Walton, A.: Measuring and defining the experience of immersion in games. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 66(9), 641–661 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brown, E., Cairns, P.: A grounded investigation of game immersion. In: Proceedings of the CHI 2004 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM (2004)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Slater, M., Usoh, M., Steed, A.: Depth of presence in virtual environments. Presence-Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 3(2), 130–144 (1994)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Witmer, B.G., Singer, M.J.: Measuring presence in virtual environments: A presence questionnaire. Presence 7(3), 225–240 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Lombard, M., Ditton, T.: At the heart of it all: The concept of presence. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 3(2) (1997)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    O’Brien, H.L., Toms, E.G.: What is user engagement? A conceptual framework for defining user engagement with technology. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci. Technol. 59(6), 938–955 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    McMahan, A.: Immersion, engagement and presence. In: The Video Game Theory Reader, pp. 67–86 (2003)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Csikszentmihalyi, M.: Flow: The psychology of optimal performance (1990)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ryan, M.: Narrative as virtual reality. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (2001)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Adams, E.: Three problems for interactive storytellers. Designer’s Notebook Column, Gamasutra (1999)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Riedl, M.O., Stern, A.: Believable agents and intelligent story adaptation for interactive storytelling. In: Göbel, S., Malkewitz, R., Iurgel, I. (eds.) TIDSE 2006. LNCS, vol. 4326, pp. 1–12. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Juul, J.: A clash between game and narrative. Danish literature (1999)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Louchart, S., Aylett, R.: Solving the narrative paradox in VEs – lessons from RPGs. In: Rist, T., Aylett, R.S., Ballin, D., Rickel, J. (eds.) IVA 2003. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 2792, pp. 244–248. Springer, Heidelberg (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Schoenau-Fog, H., Bruni, L.E., Khalil, F.F., Faizi, J.: Authoring for Engagement in Plot-Based Interactive Dramatic Experiences for Learning. In: Pan, Z., Cheok, A.D., Müller, W., Iurgel, I., Petta, P., Urban, B. (eds.) Transactions on Edutainment X. LNCS, vol. 7775, pp. 1–19. Springer, Heidelberg (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Plowman, L., Luckin, R., Laurillard, D., Stratfold, M., Taylor, J.: Designing multimedia for learning: Narrative guidance and narrative construction. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM (1999)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Louchart, S., Swartjes, I., Kriegel, M., Aylett, R.: Purposeful authoring for emergent narrative. In: Spierling, U., Szilas, N. (eds.) ICIDS 2008. LNCS, vol. 5334, pp. 273–284. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Aylett, R.: Narrative in virtual environments-towards emergent narrative. In: Proceedings of the AAAI Fall Symposium on Narrative Intelligence (1999)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Louchart, S., Aylett, R., Kriegel, M., Dias, J., Figueiredo, R., Paiva, A.: Authoring emergent narrative-based games. Journal of Game Development 3(1), 19–37 (2008)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Baceviciute, S., Albæk, K.R.R., Arsovski, A., Bruni, L.E.: Digital interactive narrative tools for facilitating communication with children during counseling: A case for audiology. In: Oyarzun, D., Peinado, F., Young, R.M., Elizalde, A., Méndez, G. (eds.) ICIDS 2012. LNCS, vol. 7648, pp. 48–59. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Greimas, A.J., Perron, P., Collins, F.: Description and Narrativity: “The Piece of String”. New Literary History 20(3), 615–626 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Barthes, R., Duisit, L.: An introduction to the structural analysis of narrative. New Literary History 6(2), 237–272 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Perron, P.: Semiotics. In: John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism, 2nd edn. John Hopkins University Press (2005)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Shannon, C.E., Weaver, W.: A Mathematical Model of Communication. University of Illinois Press, Urbana (1949)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lasswell, H.D.: The structure and function of communication in society. The Communication of Ideas 37 (1948)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bruner, J.: The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry 18(1), 1–21 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Eco, U.: The Role of the Reader, London (1981)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Young, R.M., Cardona-Rivera, R.E.: Approaching a Player Model of Game Story Comprehension through Affordance in Interactive Narrative. In: Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies (2011)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Grice, H.P.: Meaning. The Philosophical Review 66(3), 377–388 (1957)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Young, R.M.: The cooperative contract in interactive entertainment. In: Socially Intelligent Agents, pp. 229–234. Springer (2002)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Merriam-Webster: “abstract”. Retrieved on from: Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2013),
  31. 31.
    Ryan, M.: Avatars of story. University of Minnesota Press (2006)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Bruner, J.S.: Acts of meaning. Harvard University Press (1990)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lotman, J.: Two models of communication. In: Soviet Semiotics: An Anthology, pp. 99–101 (1977)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Lotman, J.: Universe of the Mind. A Semiotic Theory of Culture. I.B. Tauris & Co. (1990)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Jakobson, R.: Closing statement: Linguistics and poetics. In: Sebeok, T.A. (ed.) Style in Language, pp. 350–377 (1960)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Chandler, D.: Semiotics for beginners (2005) (retrieved November 6, 2007)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Anderson, L.: The new critical idiom: Autobiography (2001)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Carroll, N.: Narrative closure. Philosophical Studies 135(1), 1–15 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Smith, B.H.: Poetic closure: A study of how poems end. University of Chicago Press (2007)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture, Design and Media TechnologyAalborg UniversityCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations