The professorship Interactive Narrative Design researches tools to communicate, discuss and comprehend complexity, as a meaning-making practice for the 21st century.
Narrative has always had an important role in
knowledge transfer and meaning-making. Interactive digital narratives (IDN) bring
these functions into the 21st century by allowing users to actively
influence the narrative outcome, to make decisions and experience consequences,
and to replay and reconsider their choices and behaviours. In this way IDNs are
tools to communicate, discuss and comprehend complexity and therefore a key 21st century
toolset for average citizens and policymakers alike.
In 2012 the Innovation Studio of HKU developed the Mayors game, which could be recast as a stepping stone in this direction.
Digital technology provides a platform for interactive and dynamic forms of narrative in games, virtual reality, augmented reality, interactive documentary, and additional future formats. There is an increasing demand in business, consumer market and the public sector for engaging interactive narrative products and services. However, the creative industry is still in its infancy when it comes to design approaches and applications of interactive digital narratives. The professorship will change this by building expertise in best practices, design paradigms and pedagogy.
The professorship Interactive narrative design will create impact on several levels.
Identification and experimental verification of design conventions and larger patterns. The aim is to gather and generate knowledge about interactive narrative design that industry and the cultural sector can apply in many areas, such as (serious) games, television, journalism, museums, education or public awareness campaigns. The professorship will disseminate this knowledge by means of publications, industry events and collaborations.
The professorship will develop a specific pedagogy to train IDN practitioners. How can we develop formal training? What is the skill-set and mindset necessary? What is different from creative writing/script writing/rule-based game design? What could a curriculum look like? The professorship aims to develop a degree programme in interactive narrative design.
Artistic and professional impact
Digital technology is transforming narrative in a way that is similar to how printing technology has previously enabled diverse formats, such as the novel, the newspaper article, and the pamphlet. This means that IDN cuts across screen-based formats, installations, augmented reality, VR/360, wearables and upcoming future forms. The goal here is to extend the awareness of IDN as a cross-cutting perspective by building a diverse community of practice.
The professorship understands Interactive Digital Narrative as a tool to communicate, discuss and comprehend complexity, as a meaning-making practice for the 21st century. This tool can be used for example in a cultural training program for refugees, or in exploring complex political issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. IDN also has applications in more personal situations involving multiple perspectives and competing narratives, such as couples’ therapy or team communication. In this regard, the professorship aims to raise awareness of the power of interactive digital narrative through public-facing projects.
Before coming to HKU University of the Arts utrecht, Hartmut Koenitz was an Assistant Professor in Mass Media Arts at the University of Georgia, researching Interactive Digital Narrative and Video Games. He is the creator of the authoring tool ASAPS. He has taught many classes connected to digital media, including interactive narrative, game programming, video production, and web design.
Mirka Duijn (EMMA, MA) Interactive filmmaker, practice-based researcher and lecturer
Teun Dubbelman Postdoc researcher and course leader at HKU Games and Interaction, narrative game mechanics, IDN pedagogy
Christian Roth Postdoc researcher and lecturer, design and evaluation of interactive narrative user experiences
Noam Knoller Doctoral researcher at Utrecht University, embodied narrative experiences and complexity, film editor, interactive (cinema) artist
Niek Smittenaar Embedded specialisation student HKU Games and Interaction