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Interactive narratives: Exploring the links between empathy, interactivity and structure

Hand, S. and Varan, D. (2008) Interactive narratives: Exploring the links between empathy, interactivity and structure. In: Tscheligi, M., Obrist, M. and Lugmayr, A., (eds.) Changing Television Environments: 6th European Conference, EUROITV 2008, Salzburg, Australia, July 3-4, 2008 Proceedings. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany, pp. 11-19.

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Interactive narratives have long been advocated as having the potential to create more immersive and transformative experiences for audiences by adding the pleasure of agency. In practice, however, finding the balance between sufficient interactivity for agency and narrative structure has been difficult. This paper proposed a model of interactive narrative, which encased interactivity within a strong narrative structure, as the best model to increase audience entertainment. In order to test the hypothesis that such a model would out perform its linear counterpart in terms of audience entertainment- two separate audience studies were conducted. The first study tested an interactive drama for television and the second study tested two interactive narrative based advertisements. When analysing the two studies there was a surprising result- in each case audience empathy was consistently and significantly increased by the addition of interactivity. This discovery suggests links between empathy and interactivity, and has exciting implications about the role of empathic stress and structure in the creation of future models of interactive narratives.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: Interactive Television Research Institute
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Copyright: 2008 Springer-Verlag
Notes: Lecture Notes in Computer Science - No. 5066
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