ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Interactive stories and the audience

By Stacey Hand, Duane Varan
SPECIAL ISSUE: TV and Video Entertainment Environments, [Vol. 7, No. 3]

DOI: 10.1145/1594943.1594951

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 article 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 tested two interactive narrative-based advertisements. When analyzing 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 on the role of empathic stress and structure in the creation of future models of interactive narratives.

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