Wakey! Wakey! We had an encounter!

There has always been an interest in narrative, as a source of a meaningful and motivational interaction, but so has also the interest finding life on Mars.  But what if the Martians are already here, trying to get attention? This was a little situation we experienced two years ago when making a serious approach towards the game industry to explain, give advice and delivers a method that could aid the creation of interactive narrative. When finding evidence of narrative interest abroad, we even left our countries and crossed the Atlantic (note that most of us are from Sweden). So why did they not recognise us?

This was a time when the buzzword “fun” permeated the game developing and if there was someone that should be fun it was definitely the people who claimed to know storytelling. Having the gift of gab was a huge advantage in order to make everything said to appear as a page-turner (key-presser). But we were not Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights. Instead, we brought algorithms and talked about narrative as bricks of information to be cognitively systemized, arranged and controlled with the media-specific attributes. We also had stomach telling people they did not fully understand the potential of the narrative. As everyone knows a good story by heart it was like telling people they did not know how to tie their shoelaces. One could say we were walking around completely naked without any armour, as we did not even have an eligible AAA-title to endorse our assertions. If we had the chance of getting thousands of nights we got ten seconds. We retreated in anticipation of a new encounter.

But so it happened in Stockholm. A well-formulated public advertisement for a Narrative director was published by one of the major game studios. The description breathed that someone had been thinking, someone had been missing something and needed someone. Why this sudden insight? We would say it was the narrative itself that claimed its right to be taken care of in fairness to its brothers and sisters. It was the unruly narrative that could no longer stand functioning as varnish or putty to the other components and wanted to bring answers to pacing, learning curves, AI, directing players, motivation, emotions, gameplay, etc.

The good news simply kissed our sleeping blog. What we did will remain on this blog as a time document, a quote, to what we proudly tried to achieve two years ago. Today we like to see more serious approaches to narrative technique in the creation of interactive media. As the academic world, as well as the traditional IT industry, ogle at the game industry we hope the new movements might influence creation of academic programs seriously attending to the topic, as well as the development of dynamic interactive systems that comes with the new platforms (right now gamification is the buzzword as it has nothing to do with narrative).

We have learned that there is a time for everything. We at CIN are always willing to help anyone to avoid a detour to the pharmacy buying aspirins when dealing with narrative and interactivity. As a founder of CIN, and encouraged by the encounter, I will start a blog that will be a more hands-on blog about narrative technique independent from cultural influences. Participation is greatly encouraged, especially from you that share a passion to see a progress and strengthening of the narrative in the future development of interactive media.

Be back soon with information about the installation of a Narrative Construction (which is now up and running).

Katarina Gyllenbäck

Evaluating digital possibilities

CIN has been invited to evaluate possibilities to add value in educational games for kids. The publisher Natur & Kultur is one of the bigger company in Sweden in traditional book publishing. In 2010 N&K expanded their products into the digital sphere: e-books and interactive media. In this process CIN has been involved to evaluate what possibilities we have to improve on the work they already has initiated.


CIN part of TIGA’s Preferred Training Suppliers Guide

Being the UK game industries trade association TIGA has an impact on both on relations to state bodies and different actors in the industry. In order to promote educational efforts in the industry and a best practice that can make the industry excel TIGA has now initiated a preferred training supplies guide. This guide include organizations that has the capability to assist the industry in various areas. And of course, when it comes to development of interactive narratives CIN is the preferred choice.

“Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, explains the rationale for the new service:

TIGA research shows that UK games businesses spend on average 6.6 per cent of turnover on training and 91 per cent of UK games businesses provide training for their employees.

Our preferred training suppliers have a range of skills including leadership and management development, interactive narrative design, 3D technology, art and anatomical design, VFX, presenting and conflict management.

Trainers include: The Leadership Factory, Scott Eaton, Escape Studios, Elizabeth Rivers and Creating Interactive Narratives.”

Read the whole newsletter here.

Spoiled Rotten

Michael Thomsen recently published an article in The Escapist about spoilers in games that we think are an interesting piece.

“It’s hard to know the exact the origin of the term “spoiler.” The idea that learning some plot points in advance can ruin a work seems at least somewhat absurd. The Godfather is no less rich for knowing Michael will eventually take his father’s place. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is no less charming and puzzling when you know Gannon will arrive at the end.”

Our colleague Peter Zackariasson has made a minor contribution.

I hate zombies!

I think we all can agree with the truism that a film is a film, and a game is a game. But, when it comes to making a film out of a game, or vice versa, it seems like people tend to forget about the differences between the media.

Resident Evil – afterlife” is the latest example of a game made into a film. The story is about a woman (played by Milla Jovovich) who has to evacuate humans so they won’t get infected by a virus, and turned into zombies. The problem with Resident Evil is that the director wants to please two different kinds of audiences – gamers and movie lovers – making him create something in-between.

Continue reading I hate zombies!

How to use a fork and knife when developing games

Fork and knife are really good companions. The fork grabs a steak, and holds on to it, while the knife cuts through. Without the fork the knife would only make the steak move around on the plate and lots of time would be wasted. And without the knife there would only be a fork in the stake status quo.

The same applies to narrative and game mechanics when designing a video game. Like a fork, the narrative grabs the player in order for the mechanics to do its job. But if you create game mechanics and afterwards try to create a narrative that will fit these mechanics, then you will face problems. Continue reading How to use a fork and knife when developing games

Don’t show me, involve me!

Within film there is an expression among scriptwriters saying: ”Don’t tell, show”. This means that you should avoid telling what a character is feeling; instead you should find ways to express it by showing the feelings, not to make the audience disassociate with the film. Within video games there are no such advices, but it certainly would need to develop its own version of this expression.

Continue reading Don’t show me, involve me!