Reader for Mediamatic Interactive Film Lab

Resources for our Workshop

Non-linear stories consist of parallel storylines through which the user is able to navigate. Interactive stories emerge through user input. Both terms refer to different aspects of an interactive narrative, that often occur together.

Interactive Storytelling

Mark Meadows, Pause & Effect. The art of interactive narrative.

Interactivity and storytelling are two important themes of new media Meadows combines in this book. It is a clearly written and well-illustrated book on the history of and developments in interactive storytelling. As a producer of new media narratives he provides perspectives on the reader's as well the creator's side of interactive stories, including design and usability concerns. His central statement is that narrative and interactivity can be commensurate. Yet imagery plays an important role.

Sample Chapter from Espen Aarseth (1997) "Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature"

Published by the John Hopkins University Press

The development in the field of digital techniques brought on new forms of writing and reading. ‘Cybertext’ is one of them. Aarseth develops a clear perspective on the differences between ordinary, linear texts and ‘cybertexts’. Terms used in literary theory also change in the technical evolution and new terms exist. ‘Non-linearity’, ‘cybertext’ and ‘ergodic literature’ are such terms Aarseth makes clear. One of the central questions in this introduction is: Why is the expression of the ‘non-linear text’ so easily mistaken for the semantic ambiguity of the linear text? The interpretations and misinterpretations of the digital media by literary theorists is a recurrent theme of this book.

Heinz Emigholz (2002) “Interaktive Narration, Ein Widerspruch in sich selbst????

This article is based on a lecture by Prof. Heinz Emigholz on interactive narration. This lecture took place at the University of Art in Berlin at February 6th 2002. The question on how we can define interactive narration is the theme of this text.

Steve Anderson (2004) “Select & Combine, The Rise of Database Narratives???

RES Magazine, Los Angeles, United States January/February 2004

The main questions Anderson tries to answer in this article is: How and why do narrative conventions change? What drives new storytelling sensibilities? And what are the characteristics of database narrative? The Korsakow system is mentioned here as an example of a database narrative.

See also: The Korsakow system. Res Magazine review by Greg Lindsey, 2003.

The Korsakow system - Developing interactive narration

The Korsakow Project develops software (the Korsakow System) for interactive narration and gives workshops. The Korsakow Project is a collaboration of Mediamatic Amsterdam and the University of the Arts in Berlin (UdK). Korsakow gives you the possibility for hands-on experimentation with film in the new media context, with a minimum of technical hurdles.

A short introduction to the Korsakow system.

Jacob Schillinger, "Streaming Korsakow", 2003.

Schillinger is designer and author of interactive narratives at the Universitiy of the Arts in Berlin. He gives his view on the Korsakow project developed by Florian Thalhofer. He brings on two interesting views on the online publication of the Korsakow project.

Nonlinear storytelling

When you read nonlinear stories, you’re free to navigate through the structure of the story created by the author. You as a reader or user are free to interpret the text and create your own perspective.

See these examples of nonlinear storytelling:

Brent Wood's Brambletown - A comic with the branching tree structure.

Choose your own Adventure

'Choose your own adventure-books' were popular in the '80s, but continue to be popular on the internet. The books are characterized by their non-linear structure.


This term is probably the most used in literature concerning new media. Unfortunately interactivity is often used in the wrong contexts. But what exactly is interactivity? If we’re active in a virtual environment, are we then logically inter-active?

Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (2002/2004) “Emergent Narrative???

In this very clearly structured text, Kuitenbrouwer presents his views on interactivity. The central questions the author answers are: What is interactive and what is not? When are systems (here mostly understood as media projects or narratives in the widest sense) interactive? He differenciates between two notions of interactivity: Interactivity as a quality of a system and interactivity as a user experience.

Vannevar Bush "As we may think"

In 1945 Vannevar Bush wrote this famous article, in which he described the memex. The memex is a device to expand the possibilities of human memory by structuring information through association. Althought the memex was never build, Vannevar's idea strongly resembles what we now call hypertext and hyperlinking.

Laurel, B., Computers as Theatre, 1991.

Human-machine interaction is the central theme of this work and within this, she tries to answer the question: how can new computertechniques enlarge the interactivity between human and computer and what will change this in the userexperience? The main aim of her work is to propose new perspectives on computer and communication and find, create and discribe new possibilities to use the medium, especially in the field of drama and interactive userexperience.

Murray, J.H., Hamlet on the Holodeck.

This book is about the pleasures cyberliterature can give us and what stories users could build with this form of literature. With help from the medium computer, we can create a new spectrum of narrative expression. This means not that the traditional narrative form will be replaced by new ones, but place them in a new framework.

Interactive versus Narrative

Juul, J., "A clash between games and narrative"

In this paper Jesper Juul talks about the defining differences between computergames and stories. Any combination of the two leads to huge problems. Juul explains why there is no point in making Tetris: The movie or Hamlet: The game.

Ryan, ML., "Immersion vs. Interactivity: Virtual reality and literary theory", 1994.

In this article Ryan gives a clear vision on virtual reality created by interactive narratives and the meaning of immersion and interactivities. The central question here is: How do the terms immersion and interactivity relate to each other in a virtual reality?

Interactive Dramaturgies

ed. H Hägebölling (Springer/X-media publishing 2004).

Using numerous illustrations and case studies, the author maps out the creative process involved in producing interactive media, such as CD-ROM productions and network applications. Looking at concrete outstanding examples, various contributions by international multimedia authors, designers, and artists shed light on the role and function of interactive media in the context of exhibitions, museums, cultural learning, entertainment, film, and television. The publication explores methods and strategies of interactive dramaturgy that go beyond interactive storytelling. The emphasis is on new modes of dramaturgy, where the user is actively involved, cooperation among users is supported, and repeated visits are motivated.

Interesting crossmedia projects

Amsterdam based cross-media production company Submarine

Submarine channel

Lagos Wide and Close by Bregtje van der Haak & Silke Wawro

Tulse Luper Suitcases by Peter Greenaway

Switching by Morten Schodt

Adriaan van Ditvoorst:Solitary Genius by Thom Hoffman & Joes Koppers

An aboriginal story represented by new media

A project about the development of digital literature.

Two projects by Florian Thalhofer: 7 Sons and 13ter Stock