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Curveship: Interactive Fiction + Interactive Narration
Friday, February 20, 2009 @ 12:00 pm EST
Interactive fiction (often called "IF") is a venerable, well-defined category of computer programs that includes the canonical Adventure and Zork as well as some work by established literary authors and recent independent developers. These programs are often correctly referred to as games, but they can also be rich forms of text-based computer simulation, dialog systems, and examples of literary art.
Unlike many other new media forms, interactive fiction computationally simulates a world underlying the textual exchange between computer and user. Theorists of narrative have long distinguished between the level of underlying content or story (which can usefully be seen as corresponding to the simulated world in interactive fiction) and that of expression or discourse (corresponding to the textual exchange between computer and user).
While IF development systems have offered a great deal of power and flexibility to author/programmers, they have not systematically distinguished between the telling and what is told. Developers have not been able to use separate modules to control the content and expression levels independently, so there has been no easy, general way to control narrative style and create variation in the narrative discourse.
Nick Montfort will discuss a new interactive fiction system, called Curveship, which draws on narrative theory and computational linguistics to allow the transformation of the narrating.
Nick Montfort is Assistant Professor of Digital Media in the Program in Writing & Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Nick is on leave Spring 2009. More information at http://nickm.com