Writing Digital Media

Abstract (in English): 

There has been quite a bit of debate about the relationship between games and fiction, with important discussions in Wardrip-Fruin and Harrigan's First Person, Jesper Juul's Half-Real, Marie-Laure Ryan's Avatars of Story, and others.  In parallel with this, a number of electronic literature authors have been creating games -- or at least playable experiences -- that have as their focus and reward for play an experience of story, such as Mateas and Stern's Facade, Emily Shorts Galatea, and Stuart Moulthrop's Pax.

The Promacolypse project is both a digital fiction in this vein and the first example of a new  framework for how such experiences might be created. It moves certain kinds of authorship to a "meta" level, building on prior work in autonomous characters and story generation, while drawing on examples from fiction and ideas from social psychology about social games. This new approach enables the space of story-focused character interaction to be more dynamic than it can be in the previously-cited examples, where social interaction games are not explicitly represented but rather implicitly hand-encoded in the text and behaviors created by authors.

This paper describes a process of authoring in an artificial intelligence system where the author first specifies a formal social model and then constructs a specific story that is consistent with the form constraints present in the model. The system and the player's interactions with the game will determine what story is revealed and how the social space between characters is modified. To illustrate how a formal social model is constructed in this context, we provide an example of a model created through the examination of an existing media experience. By using an existing artifact as the base, the specific amalgamation of pertinent social state, character interaction patterns, and their consequences provides a coherent foundation to the formal social model. In the social artificial intelligence system used in this paper, Comme il Faut, the social formal model consists of a space of relevant or possible personalities, character traits, social games, personality moves, and a formal representation of pertinent social statuses.

In addition to the creation of a media-inspired formal social model, the creation of a new media experience based on the constraints provided by a formal social model is explored. The complexities and intricacies of authoring a story with such constraints is compounded by authoring with respect to the artificial intelligence system and the telling of the authored story, which is comprised of both the history and the emerging future of the storyworld. Among the tasks involved in creating a story to match the formal model are creating and aligning characters with personality descriptions, creating a knowledge base of cultural facts consistent with the story's cultural basis, develop a history of relevant social facts that comprise the backstory, and author prose (either in text to be displayed or input for a natural language generation system) that utilize the developed history and cultural knowledge base.

(Source: Author's abstract for ELO_AI)

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Record posted by: 
Audun Andreassen