Annotated Bibliography #9

I have a rather long pair of articles I have gone through today, so I will be posting them separately.

Brown, Neil C.M., Timothy S. Barker, and Dennis Del Favero . “Performing Digital Aesthetics: The Framework for a Theory of the Formation of Interactive Narratives.” Leonardo, vol. 44, no. 3, 2011, pp. 212–229. JSTOR,

This article covers three interactive narrative modalities and suggests ways in which these will be researched and understood for the future. The first modality is the Polychronic Narrative, which “is based on a communication between a human user and digitally generated agents, where a user can navigate her own path through pre-scripted events, able to move forward and backwards at will” (p. 214). Basically, polychronic narratives are narratives that  can be constructed and reconstructed from a linear and singular context. A key thing to note here is that these narratives occur in shared spaces and are compiled from events as they have occurred.

The second modality is the Transcriptive Narrative. A transcriptive narrative assembles previously unrelated events into a form of narrative (p. 215). A user can take a series of unrelated events, and by arranging them and making a form of sense of them, engages in transcriptive narrative. Important to note here is that while polychronic narratives occur in shared spaces based on past events, while transcriptive narratives are engaged with live, as though the user is an editor in real-time.

The final modality is the Co-Evolutionary Narrative. The relationship between the user and and autonomous digital agent creates emergent narrative (p. 217). If utilized in VR, a human player can interact with an autonomous virtual entity who reacts to actions in the digital space by the user. In this case, the human and the AI generate the narrative together.

The remainder of this article focuses on how the three modalities may feed into each other, and the type of research that should be explored further. One area of interest is the concept of relational theory, which insists that “an object is only meaningful in relation to other objects” (p. 217). This is important because in non-interactive narratives the agency is developed in the narrative itself early on through planning. Agency in these cases is passive. In interactive fiction, agency comes from an active experience where elements of design and interaction are able to shape a narrative as it occurs.

As a whole, the article does not seem super useful to me, as I am not programming an artificial intelligence. It was a fascinating read, however.


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