A growing body of work in games research, both generative and analytic, seeks to characterize the relationship between a player’s understanding of an interactive narrative and her options for action within it. This paper provides several definitions that collectively serve as a basis for a model of the user’s comprehension of an unfolding story in a game. Central to this approach, we define the notion of narrative affordance. In essence, a game provides a narrative affordance for some course of action when a player can imagine that course of action as part of a story that completes their current story experience. To define narrative affordance, we draw links from cognitive models of narrative comprehension and a range of research on affordance, which we couple with planning approaches to story and discourse generation. In our approach, we view the creation of an interactive narrative that provides a high degree of agency as a discourse generation problem. We posit that an interactive narrative system must reason about the content and organization of its communication with a player in order to prompt a player’s understanding about the game’s story and her role in it. This paper ends by pointing toward a research direction intended to provide insight into a range of aspects of interactive narrative, including role, genre, choice and agency.
Individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) have very individualistic needs, abilities, and are surrounded by very different social contexts. Consequently, special education and therapeutic interventions often need to be adapted to a particular individual. We are interested in developing systems that can help adolescents with HFASD rehearse and learn social skills with reduced aide from parents, guardians, teachers, and therapists. We describe a social skill learning game that utilizes social scenarios. Because of the individualistic needs and abilities of our target users, we describe ongoing work on AI to assist caregivers with the authoring of tailored social scenarios.
Dilemma scenarios and knowledge of social values support engaging and believable narrative gameplay. Previous work in dilemma generation has explored scenarios involving utility payoffs between two to three people. However, these models primarily require character relationships as preconditions, and do not extend to more complex choices that relate only to causes and values. This paper builds upon past work to create an expressive model of dilemma categorization for player and non-player characters.
We present a metaphor through which to study games: games as conversation, which casts gameplay as a communicative exchange between player and game. We propose to view aspects of gameplay as speech acts, as defined by Austin and Searle, and we present several examples that illustrate the diverse locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts present in the design of digital games. Through our perspective, we are able to cast problems relevant to the interactive entertainment community as discourse problems, where an interactive system must determine what to “say,” in order to elicit in the minds of players a specific mental model that will allow them to perform successfully in the game. We conclude with a research agenda that proposes to leverage the artificial intelligence paradigm of discourse planning to tackle the discourse problems of interactive entertainment.
Research in intelligent narrative technologies has recently experienced a significant resurgence. As the field matures, devising principled evaluation methodologies will become increasingly important to ensure continued progress. Because of the complexities of narrative phenomena, as well as the inherent subjectivity of narrative experiences, effectively evaluating intelligent narrative technologies poses significant challenges.