2015/2016, Semester 1
Arts & Social Sciences (Communications And New Media)
Modular Credits: 4
Interactive storytelling is a new field of research and experimentation with great potential for changing the face of game and new media industries in entertainment and education. The objective of the course is to discuss, in theoretical and abstract terms, basic concepts of interactive storytelling, and explore new perspectives on narrative and narrativity as a "conversation" between the interactive story environment and the user. The course will consider the creative and technical challenges to implementing interactive storytelling within virtual story worlds.
NOTE: detailed information about the module may change up until the start of the module in August.
LECTURES: 2 hours/week
Discussion of major concepts to be explored for each topic, and related in-class design exercises.
TUTORIALS: 2 hours/week
Hands-on exercises, project support, and presentations/critique of ongoing work.
This module aims to teach students about the underlying principles of effective interactive storytelling, how these relate to interactivity and gaming, and to make them aware of the theoretical and practical issues involved. To do this, we will be looking at some of the critical theory that has developed around interactive storytelling. And, in order to really appreciate the theoretical issues involved, we will also be doing a lot of hands-on work playing, designing, and analyzing interactive stories.
Note: No prior programming, technical or creative writing skill is required for this module, however students are encouraged to be independent problem-solvers. Also, it is not necessary to be an experienced game player to take this module. Students need to want to learn about interactivity, creativity, and storytelling.
Upon completion of this module, students will:
Understand the different forms of interactive storytelling such as hypertext fiction and emergent narrative,
Be aware of the freedoms and limitations of the medium,
Have been exposed to theoretical concepts of related fields such as literature, film, games, and artificial intelligence, and
Have practical hands-on experience creating their own interactive stories.
See the IVLE Lesson Plan for weekly lesson plan. There may be slight changes to the lesson plan during the semester, so be sure to check the IVLE Lesson Plan regularly.
Each week there will be one or more readings. Some of these will be academic papers, and some will be examples of interactive stories. Be sure to read/play the readings
class each week, as I will assume that everyone is familiar with the readings during the lecture and accompanying discussions.
Note that there is no reading packet for this module. All readings will either be found online, or in the library e-reserves. All interactive stories will also either be found online if possible, or instructions will be given as to where to access the works.
Assignments and Project
There will be four (4) short assignments in the earlier part of the module. These assignments will give you the opportunity to put into practice some of the ideas discussed in class, and to reflect on the connections between the practical work and the theoretical material in the lectures and readings. The project is a somewhat longer assignment which will allow you to incorporate several of the concepts developed in the assignments, and will span over the last few weeks of the module. These assignments and the project will require you to write short, text-based interactive stories or story fragments using a simple, free tool called
. The tool will be introduced during tutorial. The assignments and the project are text-based, and will
involve any artwork. The assignments and the project will be done individually. Examples of previous years' assignments and projects can be found
Starting from week 3, the tutorials will consist of critiques of assignments and the project, and exercises which build on the weekly readings and lecture material. Tutorials will be graded based on attendance and participation.
Note that tutorial attendance is important. We are required to warn you for the first 2 absences from tutorial. Any subsequent absences will be reported to the department and the Dean’s office.
This module is 100% CA (“continuous assessment”); there is no exam.
Breakdown of marks:
Assignments: 40% (4 x 10%)
Project: 50% (proposal 5%, critique 5%, prototype 5%, final 35%)
Participation 10% (tutorial 5%, lecture and IVLE 5%)
Please note that the grading for the module is based entirely on individual performance. There is no group work.
Everything due in this module has a deadline. Unless there are truly exceptional circumstances, late delivery of a particular deliverable is marked down 10% for each hour it is late. See the Lesson Plan for a week-by-week snapshot of deliverables.
Warning: students may not use a project they have created (or are creating) for another module as a project submission for this module. If students want to build upon a project they have created earlier, they need to:
seek approval from the module instructor before starting to work on the project
provide information about other modules where the project has been submitted, and
clearly describe what is new about the project for this module (note that "what is new'' must be significant and must be equivalent in scope to other module projects that are not based on pre-existing projects)
The official NUS policy is that student should expect to work an average of
in a 4MC module. For this module, students should expect to do roughly the following every week:
1.5 hrs/wk: Lecture
1.5 hrs/wk: Tutorial
5.0 hrs/wk: Assignments / Projects
2.0 hrs/wk: Readings and preparation for lecture/tutorial
Note: this module is designed so that the work-load is about the same each week
If a student spends much less time on this module, it is almost certainly a sign the student will not do well.
If a student spends much more time on this module each week, talk to me: either you are doing more than we expect – or we have made the activities too time-consuming.
All students are expected to actively participate in lectures, tutorials, and online forum discussions during the module.
! All students are expected to read and respond to email
sent to their NUS email accounts
This module makes heavy use of IVLE forums to answer questions, support discussions, and make important update announcements. Postings to the module forum are forwarded to NUS email accounts – and those are the accounts we will use if we need to contact students directly.
If students do not check/read mail sent to their NUS email accounts, the consequences may result in lower marks. In particular, students are like to be penalized if they do not respond promptly if we send them email (to their NUS email address). We cannot make exceptions and use other email accounts to contact students.
Note: it is possible to have your NUS email “forwarded” to another email account. To do this, go to
and click on the link for Email Redirection (bottom, left-hand side of the page). Then, follow the instructions.
Please be aware: students need to be responsible for their NUS email accounts. If a student does not read/delete mail from an NUS account (or have it forwarded to another account), the account may “fill up” and mail to the account may bounce. This means: even though a student may be able to send mails from the account, our replies to that account will not get through.
To be very clear: “I don’t read emails sent to my NUS account” will not be an acceptable reason for missing important module announcements, updates, etc.
Academic Integrity is a critical value of the university community and integrity violations destroy the fabric of a learning community and the spirit of inquiry that is vital to the effectiveness of the University. Please find more information on Academic Integrity of FASS at
Students are expected to know that using the work of others without proper attribution (e.g. without citing the work properly) constitutes plagiarism
. Even when a student paraphrases another person’s work, proper citations are necessary to avoid plagiarism.
FASS offers a small e-course in plagiarism. See
Students caught plagiarising will receive a zero in their assignments and will be referred to the Deans office. Second offenders can face a fine and other disciplinary actions. So students should be sure to acknowledge any sources or material they use in their assignments!
A project should not include assets – text, art, music, or video – that are violations of copyright. The safest way to avoid this problem is to create your own assets, but students may also use copyright-free assets. Some sites with open-source materials:
• Internet Archive
• Wikimedia Commons
• PDSounds Open Library:
• Freesound Project:
WARNING! Just because something is “on the Internet” does not mean it is automatically legal to use it in a project.
If students use assets that they did not create, they must be able to show an explicit statement from the copyright owner that grants them the right to use those assets. (Teams will be required to provide this information as part of their project documentation.)