Having one's cake and eating it too: Coherence of children's emergent narratives

Authors Mariët Theune, Thijs Alofs, Jeroen Linssen, Ivo Swartjes

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Mariët Theune
Thijs Alofs
Jeroen Linssen
Ivo Swartjes

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Mariët Theune, Thijs Alofs, Jeroen Linssen, and Ivo Swartjes. Having one's cake and eating it too: Coherence of children's emergent narratives. In 2013 Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative. Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 32, pp. 293-309, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2013)


In the emergent narrative approach to Interactive Storytelling, narratives arise from the interactions between player- or computer-controlled characters in a simulated story world. This approach offers much freedom to the players, but this freedom may come at the cost of narrative structure. In this paper we study stories created by children using a storytelling system based on the emergent narrative approach. We investigate how coherent these stories actually are and which types of character actions contribute the most to story coherence, defined in terms of the causal connectedness of story elements. We find that although the children do produce goal-directed story lines, overall the stories are only partially coherent. This can be explained by the improvisational nature of the children’s storytelling with our system, where the interactive experience of the players is more important than the production of a coherent narrative. We also observe that the communication between the children, external to the system, plays an important role in establishing coherence of the created stories.
  • Interactive storytelling
  • coherence
  • emergent narrative
  • children


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