Interactive Narrative: a syllabus for grades 9-12
Object: This course will provide an overview to the concept of Interactive Narrative. Though the focus will frequently be on visual elements, there are necessary language and performance arts components. Through a series of projects, primarily collaborative, students will explore what it means to create fluid, interactive and choice driven narratives. Both traditional art elements and components of story construction will be explored.
WEEK 1: Introduction: Talk about what Interactive Narrative means:
Interactive - that it is something that changes as you engage with it.
Narrative - A story or tale.
There is a time when we all practice interactive narrative - this is what playing make-believe is. Although digital gaming is the most common application of interactive narrative for adults, there are a number of other avenues, from role-playing games, to collaborative stories, to serendipitous art experiences.
Activities: Begin with an introduction and discussion. The students will doubtless have had experiences with this form of narrative, and should be encouraged to talk about them. Material such as Choose Your Own Adventure Books and Masquerade should be available, as well as internet resources for older games.
PROJECT: Have the students begin with the simplest of interactive narratives - the continuing story, each student adding a line.
PROJECT: Discuss and demonstrate the exquisite corpse, and have the students participate in one.
WEEK 2: Activities: Have the students experiment with Storytron.com and chooseyourownstory.com. Discuss how choice affects the plot.
PROJECT: Break into groups and create a story with Dream Path. Share it with the class.
WEEK 3: Activities: Discuss LARPS, GURPS and the SCA. Experiment with improve exercises and talk about the lack of overarching narrative. (Possibly get a Scadian in for a demo?) Begin Parlor Larp, Snow White. (Shifting Forest, 2005) Demonstration of costume design sketches.
PROJECT: The students will do a costume design sketch for their character.
WEEK 4: Work in studio. Critique.
WEEK 5: Activities: Have each student create a file of twenty images. They can be either captured or produced. (Discuss issues of copyright, appropriation and proper credit) Hand the file to another student. Demonstrate PowerPoint, and the use of buttons to create link choices. Demonstrate the use of decision trees.
PROJECT: The students will use the pictures in the file they are given to create a story with three decisions and at least two possible endings.
WEEK 6: Work in studio. Share work. Critique.
WEEK 7: Activities: Discuss elements of story, character building, plot creation and graphic elements.*See Lesson Plan
WEEK 8: Work in Studio.
WEEK 9: Work in Studio. Surprise Critique, with writing element.
WEEK 10: Activities: Discuss the technical difficulties of the last assignment. This one will be lighter, and allow for some play. Introduce the students to the virtual classroom on Second Life's Teen Grid. Discuss rules and expectations for the game, and its accompanying forum. The game is a loosely based historical setting, with a mystery to be solved. Groups will be secretly assigned, each with a different agenda.
PROJECT: The students will create a character, and use the resources available to outfit it in a manner appropriate to the setting. They will write a biography and post it to the forum. The secret groups must meet at least once outside of class, and detail what they plan to do to add to the story. Over the course of the next two weeks, the goal is to use class time to make the story as rich and compelling as possible. The forum can be used for off topic discussion.
WEEK 11: Work in studio. Develop story lines, and character.
WEEK 12: Final Critique - Each student will capture and print a picture of their character. The groups will present a log of their best scene and a written synopsis of their part in the story.