The phenomena of interactive narrative in the era of digital storytelling
Stories are involved in all texts around us. We meet them every day in all media products. We have been taught to understand/decode them since we were born—starting with fairy tales. Here is where we are first introduced to the traditional structure and organization of the storytelling-narrative. As the rise of new media has enriched our understanding of media in general and offered the audience a more active role while approaching/ using media production, new media has also brought a new form of storytelling: the interactive narrative. The reader is not considered as a passive consumer anymore, but as an active participant in the story. This can shake up the traditional understanding of authorship as the story is no longer linear and predefined. Interactive narrative is more than just the digital expression of stories in a binary code (0, 1). It is about the interconnection between medium and text, consisting of several elements: words, static and moving pictures, graphics, sounds, ... The concept of the interactive narrative has strongly appealed to game designers for the last several decades. The videogame is considered to be the platform where interactive narrative first appeared. Nevertheless, my dissertation focuses on what I call literary interactive narrative (both fiction and non-fiction). The theoretical part of the dissertation discusses questions like: Is digital culture transforming the stories we tell and the mode of their presentations? Does the interactive narrative allow us to tell stories that could hardly be expressed through conventional narratives? Can it be considered an art form, a form of high culture? Who and what is an author/reader/text/story in the interactive narrative? The empirical sections of my dissertation present examples of current literary interactive narrative. Bearing in mind Dolezel’s concept (2000) of the possible worlds, texts and literature can be seen as a complex labyrinth. Two fundamental aspects can be found in the analytical section: an analysis of the available examples of both fictional and non-fictional interactive narratives, capturing/analyzing these texts as literary games (the research will be based on a comparative, qualitative analysis of several examples, leading to the identification of the significant elements that make the texts an interactive narrative). My other focus seeks to explore the audiences’ experiences, examining Czech teenagers and raising questions on if and how they approach the interactive narrative.