6th International Conference for Interactive Digital Storytelling

Istanbul - November 6-9, 2013

The 6th International Conference for Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS) conference, on the theme “Connecting Narrative Worlds,” held from November 6 to 9, 2013 at Bahçeşehir University Istanbul, was organized by the Games & Narrative Research Group, consisting of Hartmut Koenitz (University of Georgia), Mads Haahr (Trinity College Dublin), Gabriele Ferri (Indiana University), Digdem Sezen (Istanbul University) and Tonguc Sezen (Istanbul Bilgi University) together with Güven Çatak as the partner with the host institution.

ICIDS is the premier international conference on research and practice covering interactive narrative experiences such as video game narratives, interactive storytelling, interactive drama, and interactive installation art concerned with storytelling. The objective of this conference series is to promote understanding and dialogue between researchers in computer science, designers, transmedia and digital artists, narratologists and digital game scholars.

Interactive Digital Storytelling is an exciting area in which narrative, computer science and digital arts converge to create new expressive forms. The combination of narrative and computation has a considerable untapped potential: from artistic projects to journalistic communication, from assistive technologies and intelligent agents to serious games, education and entertainment.
Supported by the host university and several corporate sponsors, the conference was attended by about 100 academics, digital media practitioners and artists, a testimony to the vibrant community and growing interest in the field. Papers from 25 countries as far apart as Australia and Kuwait were submitted to ICIDS 2013, showing that the interest in this field is not only sustained but also universal.

The ICIDS conference series has a long-standing tradition of bringing together theoretical and practical approaches in an interdisciplinary dialogue. The theme for ICIDS 2013 – “Connecting Narrative Worlds” – expresses this need to build bridges of understanding across different fields to make even better use of the immense potential of interactive narrative.

The keynote speakers appearing at ICIDS 2013 similarly reflect the diversity in disciplines and perspectives. The featured keynotes were given by renowned artist and pioneer in digital performance Toni Dove, who reported on her embodied interactive storytelling practice, the interactive storytelling expert Ernest Adams, who introduced a classification system to pre-determine and plan interactive narratives, and the independent game developer Adam Russell, who talked about his practice in creating experimental interactive narratives.

The 14 long papers, 8 short papers, and 10 posters bear witness to a dynamic field. The contributions over the four days of the conference were subdivided into different thematic areas, all related to digital technologies and narrative applications:
•    Models, Theories and Vocabulary was the most theoretical track, offering a perspective on current contributions from the fields of semiotics, narratology, performance studies and film studies. Contributions in this area included perspectives on specific aspects like closure, foreshadowing and “productive interactivity,” metrics for measuring aspects such as character believability as well as a view on breaching the implicit agreement of interactive storytelling. The section was closed with a proposal for classifying and relating interactive digital narratives in the form of mappings.
•    Between Play and Narration detailed the creation of ludic situations in digital environments as a tool for effective storytelling. Contributions in this area included perspectives on visual representation and mise-en-scene as well as a proposed annotation scheme for communication while experiencing an interactive narrative.
•    Game Narrative engaged in a dialogue with the relatively new discipline of computer game studies. Papers in this section discussed the specific affordances of electronic games in relation to narrative, discussing satire and propaganda in game narratives and a case of invisible agency.
•    Art and Narrative Applications presented perspectives from the field of digital arts, location-based performances and interactive digital narratives. Contributions in this section looked into the difficulties of telling travel stories while they happen, reported on storytelling and the use of social media in digital art installations, on a continuously developing interactive narrative and on how to generate stories with of morals.
•    Applications and Analyses was a track that featured advanced computational applications like automatic story clustering and the generation of various “tellings” from semantic representations as well as perspectives focusing on the user in relation to the author, in regards to perceived incoherence, and finally on user understanding as a key element in adaptive storytelling.
The quantitative approaches devised to identify audience preferences represents an upcoming research trend that emerged from the contributions discussed at the conference. The best paper award was given to Sharon Lynn Chu, Francis Quek, and Joshua Tanenbaum’s paper “Performative Authoring: Nurturing Storytelling in Children through Imaginative Enactment” that evaluated different approaches designed to help children tell stories. Stacey Mason’s innovative proposal “On Games and Links: Extending the Vocabulary of Agency and Immersion in Interactive Narratives” was selected as the runner-up.

Two panels, Professional perspectives on Interactive Digital Storytelling and Current and Future Trends in Interactive Digital Storytelling, complemented the paper presentations, providing an opportunity for the audience to engage in a discussion with professionals and researchers in the field.

This year, the ICIDS conference also featured an interactive art exhibition for the first time in the series. It aimed at presenting a wide range of practical demonstrations, including artistic projects, experimental designs, and narrative video games. Amongst the many exciting pieces, the exhibition hosted “CAVE! CAVE! DEUS VIDET” by the Italian duo We Are Müesli (recent winner of the Bosch Art Game international competition 2013) and “Occupy Istanbul” on the Gezi park protests by the film director İnan Temelkuran and Hartmut Koenitz.

On the fourth day of the conference, three full-day and five half-day workshops were held at the Galata Campus of Bahçeşehir University. They provided the opportunity for conference participants, as well as for selected students from the local design program, to attend practical sessions in small groups. The range of topics was wide, from natural language processing techniques in computer games to the educational use of live-action role playing games (LARPs) and to creative digital performances based on spam emails.

As in previous ICIDS conferences, the proceedings are published by Springer and are available both in print and in ebook format as part of their Lecture Notes in Computer Science series at
http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-02756-2

Hartmut Koenitz,
University of Georgia

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