This dissertation explores the notion of shared authorship in interactive narratives and computational media. A work of shared authorship is one in which the player and the system collaboratively create a narrative artifact, ideally one which neither would have been capable of producing on their own. This is in contrast to many works of interactive narrative, which ship with either a single story or a relatively small number of stories for the player to experience through gameplay.
After introducing the notion and pleasures of shared authorship, this document discusses many fields of research relevant to this particular brand of interactive storytelling, including sculptural fiction, story generators, and player modeling. It also borrows theory from the humanities---with particular emphasis on Brechtian and improvisational theatre---to help further discover possible avenues and ideal qualities pieces of shared authorship should possess. This section then ends with a discussion of several existing games with narrative elements and varying degrees of collaboration, and proposes several dimensions with which to measure them, in the hope of discovering as of yet
unexplored shared authorship design space.
The dissertation then goes into its first of three examinations of a playable shared authorship experience enabled by new artificial intelligence technology: Prom Week. Over the course of three chapters, Prom Week is examined in three dierent ways: through the underlying technology that enabled it, though the playable experience itself, and through a variety of novel evaluation mechanisms. Throughout each of these explorations, the systems are discussed through a lens of shared authorship; their successes and failures at being works of shared authorship in and of themselves, and their potential for creating and inspiring works of shared authorship in the future. This pattern is repeated two more times with the playable experiences of Bad News and the in-development Writing Buddy.
Though there is still much design space yet to be explored, Prom Week, Bad News, and Writing Buddy nevertheless manage to be notable advances in the cause of shared authorship.