Interactive Narrative Design – The Narrative Design Exploratorium™

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Category Archives: Interactive Narrative Design

What is the future of video games? This is a large, if not insurmountable question, especially when considering the increasing diversification of styles within the medium. ‘Indie’, ‘casual’, ‘core’, ‘mature’; the labels continue to proliferate, identifying specialized niches of styles, however real or unreal, within the larger ‘video game’. Forming at present is a new […]


My article Dramatic play was published recently on and has created some interesting discussion on various sights and forums.
What is Dramatic play? Dramatic play is a new niche, a paradigm
that is the focus of interactive narrative design, the craft that meets
at the apex of ludology and narratology and conjoins the theories into
functional video game […]


Reading Video Games

Written by Stephen E. Dinehart.
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Posted in: Interactive Narrative Design

The ‘game system’ fires up, the fans roar (or hopefully not so much), and the once black screen ignites. Immediately the player engages the video game and encounters stimuli; text; main menus, loading screens, cinematics, play mechanics, player characters, non-player characters, etc. They take witness and navigate the system using designed actions, play mechanics. Using […]


“After the novel..the computer age introduces its correlate – database.” Manovich [1] As Manovich defines the database the fiction form of our age, I too argue that a videogame is a database of multidimensional arrays containing audio, visual, and gameplay elements which when experienced in a concinnity via narrative systems creates a believable storyspace in […]


I was contacted recently by a curious mind, it belonged to a student named Margaret A. Cogswell. I asked her to tell me a little about
herself and her program.  “I am a sophomore at Savannah College of Art
and Design, and a game design major.  I recently discovered that I am
really passionate about narrative design and […]


Interactive Narrative Design is a craft that meets at the apex of Ludology, Narratoloy and game design; turning the conjoining into functional interactive entertainment development methodologies. Ludology being the study of play that has become very fashionable in the game design community within the past 2 decades. Narratology is the theory of narratives, of spectacles, […]


Life and Narrative Structure

Written by Stephen E. Dinehart.
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Posted in: Interactive Narrative Design

This is an idea I’ve thought of for many years, beginning in 2000, in Detroit, while studying multidimensional reality, and paradigm shifts under the brilliant professor Dr. Diane Voss.
Life as a game (playful navigation through a system) the artifact of that game is narrative. Conscious reality exists as a series of relative experiences; displayed […]

” αβ³δ¹A¹B¹C↑H¹-I¹K4↓w° “(1) 
The formula shown above is for a Russian Folktale as described by Vladimir Propp in his book Morphology of the Folktale, the formula reads “A tsar, three daughters (α). The daughters go walking (β³), overstay in the garden (δ¹). A dragon kidnaps them (A¹). A call for aid (B¹). Quest of three heroes (C↑). Three […]

Recently in an interview I was asked about other forms of the heroes story, if there are other types yet to be explored by games, and indeed there are. As an example, one form I’ve been playing with, both in thought and practice, is tragedy. This classic tragic hero archetype is one rarely given to […]

“These elements, thus knit together, enclose the performer as with an atmospheric ring of Art and Nature, in which, like to the heavenly bodies, he moves secure in fullest orbit, and whence, withal, he is free to radiate on every side his feelings and his views of life- broadened to infinity, and showered as it […]


Narrative Designer Manifesto

Written by Stephen E. Dinehart.
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Posted in: Interactive Narrative Design

Since the beginning of the video game industry story, or narrative, has always seemed to be given the backseat in development. Elements of games like repetitive combative play mechanics, audio and ever improving visual graphics are given priority over story except in rare production environments. The industry continually strives to incorporate cinematic like interactive storytelling, […]


Firstly, what is the substance of ‘good’ narrative?
Experience? User-story? Be that a user of any system, closed or open. The human mind is the creator of story, since the beginning our not so simple act of perception has had us telling ourselves stories over and over again, in an effort to understand, to believe, and […]


What is a narrative designer?

Written by Stephen E. Dinehart.
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Posted in: Interactive Narrative Design

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Narrative Designers are storytellers whom live alongside a game as it develops through the production process. As the project grows and alters over the course of production, they are there to make sure the story maintains continuity throughout the experience. They are managers, writers, game designers, artists, and more. The pillar of their primary tenant […]


Story Maps and the Sandbox

Written by Stephen E. Dinehart.
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Posted in: Interactive Narrative Design

In my work recently I have stumbled upon a new concept I call Story Maps. Similar to location based media and projects like Pathalog. When a perceptive entity enters a space, stimuli, quite naturally is embedded or 3-D, as it were. If one was to take these experiences and map them to a space, so […]

RTS is a very different beast from the 1st-person, or singular 3rd-person perspectives of most other genres. How do you tell a story that encompasses many perspectives into a cohesive whole? It has been answered in part, by the history of RTS story-telling mechanics and its evolution. But there is much more work to do.
The […]