Over the last few days I have been at the Second International Interactive Storytelling conference, which was held in the historic town of Guimarães, Portugal, a world heritage site near Porto and birthplace of the first Portuguese king – and of Portugal itself. It was a great meeting – with leading people from around the world. Interactive storytelling can refer to all manner of digital narrative projects, ranging from designing the storylines for computer games, through to digital literature in its many forms, and also virtual heritage and interactive tours. How best to design stories that incorporate social media and utilize mobile devices were both prominent themes. Notably absent was any reference to hypertext, with which this field was once mainly associated. This came as no surprise, as the field now has its own long history and continues to evolve, especially as it is now linked so closely with game design. The most illuminating papers, involving people like Janet Murray (Hamlet on the Holodeck), asked whether we may be on the verge of the holy grail of creating the ‘holodeck’ for storytelling. The answer was ‘no’ – but that we may not be as far away as it seems. I particularly enjoyed taking in the specs on the new equipment at Ars Electronica showcased in one presentation – massive screens and projected images covering whole walls, ceilings and floors, that create an immersive environment.
Screenshot from F H Erfurt and Ulrike Spierling’s presentation, on the ‘flow of actions’