My Definition of Interactive Storytelling

Interactive storytelling is a form of entertainment that uses the computer as a medium to allow readers to create or influence a dramatic storyline through small, significant actions.

Interactivity is the computer’s competitive advantage, a cyclic conversation between the user and the machine in which each participant listens, thinks and speaks. These simple conversations, combined with Moore’s Law, have weaved this technology so deeply into the fabric of our societies that it is hard to imagine a life without them.

Storytelling is one of the most ancient forms of communication, spanning over four thousand years of human evolution. From Gilgamesh to Ulysses, from The Odyssey to Star Wars, people have used stories to share life experiences and learn through real or imaginary tales.

Chris Crawford discusses three strategies for developing interactive storytelling systems in the 1st edition of his book on the subject  – environmental, data-driven, and language-based. He considers the first a dead end, the second having potential, and the third having the most promise and the basis for his Storytron system (interesting, in the 2nd edition he doesn’t even mention the first two strategies, doubling down on the third).

Having worked with Storytron I’m most familiar with Chris’ approach and it appeals to the software developer in me. I’m going to continue experimenting in that direction and see what happens.


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