CfP: PhD seminar “Worlds, Stories, and Games” ITU Copenhagen

2nd CFP for PhD seminar: “Worlds, Stories, and Games”

May 18-20, 2011 at IT University of Copenhagen, 5 ECTS

Details below

Speakers from the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT
University of Copenhagen:

Espen Aarseth (Ludo-Narratology)
Yun-Gyung Cheong (Story generation)
Mark Nelson (Drama management)
Julian Togelius (Procedural content generation)
Georgios N. Yannakakis (User/Player modeling)


This seminar invites PhD students to investigate theoretical and practical problems of interactive storytelling and interactive storytelling techniques in computer games or related media from the
perspectives of computer sciences (part I) as well as humanities based research (part II) and tries to find interconnections between the two perspectives.

Part I: Computational Models of Storytelling and Interactive Storytelling

Narrative generation by computers has been actively researched for the last two decades. In particular, various artificial intelligence techniques have been used to model story creation and comprehension processes. However, generating interactive stories is still challenging due to the dynamics of user interaction. The user in story-centered games is like an actor who plays a role in a story without the script. Therefore, creating a seamless story that continuously interacts with
the player requires numerous storylines and tremendous authoring efforts. In narrative analysis theory, story consists of two layers: story world and discourse. The story world includes all the events in the story including the events hidden from the reader while the discourse contains only the selected events to be presented to the story consumer. The author constructs the discourse carefully for particular impacts and emotional experiences for the reader.

In games, the story consumer takes a part in creating the story world, and thus story events that are not worth to tell can be conveyed to her. The user’s dual roles as story producer and consumer in the game environment have complicated the direct application of narrative theories into interactive story generation.

This seminar is looking for approaches to problems like: How can we efficiently use the interaction of a user into storytelling? Is the interactive storytelling more like a story or a game? Should the story components be present in the story world that the user navigates through or be present in a retrospective way when she recalls the game play? How much does narratology come into play in interactive storytelling?

Part II: Ludo-Narratology and Beyond

If games and game technology can be used for storytelling, what is storytelling, really? How much can the standard theories and models of narratology help us understand game-story hybrids and new kinds of ludo-mimetic entertainment, and how great is the need for new theories and models? A critical understanding of “story-games” is useful both for the development of experimental systems such as FAÇADE (2005), as well as for the study of commercial productions such as FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS (2010), DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS (2010), or HEAVY RAIN (2010).

For years, game studies have tried to come up with an answer to the question: Are these “things” games or stories, or both? Unfortunately, the discussion got side-tracked on a meta-level, misleadingly termed “ludology vs. narratology,” and became an unproductive no-man’s land. It
is high time to reboot the empirical study of story-game hybrids and move the field forward.

The seminar will explore the ludological limits of narratology and present some new models from recent game research, and examine the utility of classical narratology. Through lectures, close-playing analysis and discussions, the goal is to attain a better grasp of the aesthetic challenges and solutions involved in game-story production and analysis, through new models and concepts developed specifically for these new forms.

The seminar will furthermore give introductory talks on the state of the art in interactive storytelling techniques such as story generation, procedural content generation, and automated camera control. The seminar also includes an interactive session to demonstrate the use of
interactive story authoring tools.


PhD students from the fields of game studies, narratology, interactive storytelling techniques, computational story generation and related fields are invited to submit papers which offer new insights or solutions for the presented problems. For participation please send an abstract of your paper (300-500 words) to smam(at)itu[dot]dk. In order to get 5 ECTS you only have to submit a paper and present a position, a problem, a solution etc. from the given fields.

As an orientation:
– a humanities based paper should have about 10 pages in Times New Roman 12pt, double line spacing or 4000-6000 words,

– a computer science based paper: about 4000 words or max 6 pages following IEEE double column formatting style
(e.g. http://bit.ly/i2KdHK).

Knowledge in either computational interactive storytelling techniques or narrative and computer game theory or both is preferable but not obligatory. A refreshment of knowledge will be made possible with a compendium of theoretical texts provided prior to the course. Furthermore, it is advised to play at least three of the example games (HEAVY RAIN (2010), FAÇADE (2005), FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS (2010), DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS (2010), THE MARRIAGE (2006)) prior to the course in order to have a comparable frame of reference in terms of examples.

The seminar is free of charge; travel expenses and accommodation have to be comprised by the participants.


Deadline for abstract submission: March 22, 2011
Notification of acceptance: March 29, 2011
Submission of paper: April 29, 2011

Further information will be available in the “events” section of http://game.itu.dk. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to send an e-mail to Sebastian Möring, smam(at)itu(dot)dk, or Yun-Gyung Cheong, yugc(at)itu(dot)dk.

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