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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Designing to Support Authorship Play in Emergent Narrative Games

  • Author(s): Kreminski, Max
  • Advisor(s): Wardrip-Fruin, Noah
  • Mateas, Michael
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

Prior interactive narrative research has extensively investigated the question of how game designers can tell stories through games, but little investigation has been done of how and why players use games to tell stories of their own. This thesis investigates player storytelling practices around emergent narrative games as a form of authorship play. First, we examine existing play practices centered on the authorship of written stories based on play experiences. We find that some players deliberately seek out emergent narrative games as storytelling partners, and argue that this is due in part to the creativity support features common to several games within this genre, which can help players overcome certain barriers to creativity—including fear of the blank canvas, fear of judgment, writer's block, and perfectionism. Second, we present Why Are We Like This? (WAWLT), a mixed-initiative co-creative storytelling game based on design insights gleaned from this analysis. We discuss the AI architecture of WAWLT, focusing especially on how it makes use of story sifting and social simulation technologies to provide players with creativity support, and present the results of preliminary playtesting. Finally, we conclude with some brief discussion of the implications of our work in this design space, including our priorities for future work.

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