ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Albert in Africa

By Ken Newman
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 3, No. 3]

DOI: 10.1145/1077246.1077260

RPGs (role playing games) and improvisational theatre have some obvious similarities. Both require the participants to work together in real-time to construct dynamic narrative elements. Seeing communication in terms of ongoing narrative contracts is a well-accepted principle of improvisational theatre [Johnstone 1981]. The recipient of the offer can either accept the offer, block it, or a make counter-offer; and good improvisational theatre's golden rule is "never block an offer." This article describes a study of subjects engaged in a controlled online role-playing "encounter." The encounter is entitled "Albert in Africa;" the study draws on the previously described fun unification model [Newman 2004]. In this article, subjects' individual predispositions and responses are correlated with the number of acceptances, blocks, and counter-offers they made during their encounter. From this emerges a view of the complex interactions that make up the simple universal construct of fun in an RPG environment and the identification of certain combinations of predisposition and "environmental affordances" which act as predictors of the subjects' fun response.

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