Choose Your Own Path: Interactive Narrative Workshop

Today, as usual, we are going to have a peer response workshop that mirrors the principles of the unit we’ve been working in. We are going to build a collaborative, hypertext, interactive narrative by giving feedback to individual stories of our peers.

In this document, you will find a Table of Contents. Each chapter relates to a principle of interactive narrative composition. To begin, each of you should add a link to your narrative to the “index,” so others will be able to view and comment on it. Make sure to include the title and your name. 

Then, you should each pick another narrative listed in the index and play / explore it thoroughly. Make sure to familiarize yourself with as many of your choices and outcomes as possible; you may not play the entire narrative, but neither should you be satisfied with just one quick scan.

Once you are ready to form a response to that narrative, you should return to the Table of Contents, and follow the links within Sections One and Two to leave your feedback on that narrative. For each of your peers’ pieces that you encounter, make sure to express one aspect of it that you thought worked well, and one element that you thought could be improved.

The catch is, you will need to organize your comments into an ongoing collaborative narrative based on the criteria in the Table of Contents. Each chapter in the TOC should read as a reference article about the principle of interactive narrative covered there, that uses a variety of sample interactive narratives to support its articulation of how and why that principle matters in the composition of interactive narratives.

This will be challenging! It means that, in addition to saying what you have to say about the narrative you’ve just read, you’ll also need to discuss the topic of the chapter, explain its significance, and then use your peer’s narrative to illustrate the point you’re making. It also means that, if you’re not the first contributor to a chapter, you need to work to integrate your commentary with what’s already there. Your goal should be to add to the chapter but maintain a sense of cohesion. Place references to the same narrative in the same place. Discuss similar issues or questions alongside each other. Most significantly, you should work to write your contribution as part of a collaborative voice — no references to what “I” thought or what “my” narrative does; you should consider yourself a more scholarly author, adding to a broad body of knowledge.

Each time you type a response (in each new section), I want you to add at least one hyperlink to a source other than the project, because I want you to support your response with other resources. You can find a starting list of possibilities in the ‘resources’ section, but should also feel free to include other examples and comparisons to games or stories with which you are familiar. If you do so, please also add them to the list of references where relevant.

Over the course of the class period, I also want each person to embed one image somewhere in our document. This could be a screenshot of gameplay (yours of a peer’s narrative, or of another game / IF referenced) or any other relevant comparison you can think of to make your point. Make sure to caption / cite the image.

My hope is that you will be able to thoroughly explore and comment on 2-3 narratives during class time. That should suggest to you how much time I want you to spend exploring each piece, and commenting on it. Make your responses thorough and detailed.

Of course, you will not each receive tailored feedback, as you have in the past. Instead, each of you will leave class today with a massive reference document that explores and explains what makes a reader feel engaged with and invested in an interactive narrative, and what disrupts that engagement. Rather than combing the document for references to your narrative specifically, you should instead read the document in its entirety, and think about how you can implement these best practices into your interactive narrative before Friday’s deadline.

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