Re-using digital narrative content in interactive games

Wolff, Annika; Mulholland, Paul; Zdrahal, Zdenek and Joiner, Richard (2007). Re-using digital narrative content in interactive games. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 65(3) pp. 244–272.



This paper presents a model, called Scene-Driver, for the reuse of film and television material. We begin by exploring general issues surrounding the ways in which content can be sub-divided into meaningful units for re-use and how criteria might then be applied to the selection and ordering of these units. We also identify and discuss the different means by which a user might interact with the content to create novel and engaging experiences. The Scene-Driver model has been instantiated using content from an animated children’s television series called Tiny Planets, which is aimed at children of 5-7 years old. This type of material, being story-based itself, lends itself particularly well to the application of narrative constraints to scene reordering, to provide coherence to the experience of interacting with the content.
We propose an interactive narrative-driven game architecture, in which a user generates novel narratives from existing content by placing “domino” like tiles. These tiles act as “glue” between scenes and each tile-choice dictates certain properties of the next scene to be shown within a game. There are three different game-types, based on three different ways in which tiles can be matched to scenes. We introduce algorithms for generating legal tile-sets for each of these three game-types, which can be extended to include narrative constraints. This ensures that all novel orderings adhere to a minimum narrative plan, which has been identified based on analysis of the Tiny Planets series and on narrative theories. We also suggest ways in which basic narratives can be enhanced by the inclusion of directorial techniques and by the use of more complex plot structures. In our evaluation studies with children in the target age-range, our game compared favourably with other games that the children enjoyed playing.

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