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Emotional Engagement and Interactive Narrative Design

Yoshiko Burke

This paper presents an approach to interactive narrative design that synthesizes the programming capabilities of Macromedia Flash with interface design based on user experience goals to create web-based "storytelling edit systems." These editing systems allow the user to select and construct an emotionally rich narrative experience from a set of provided data ingredients. In creating such an interactive system, designers must delineate audience engagement in traditional narrative, where the creator has control over all aspects of the story, from interactive narrative, where the designer willingly relinquishes control over narrative development in order to engage its user, providing only the conceptual environment, visual interface and thematically related data ingredients in the form of animated clips that can be manipulated in Flash. This design approach incorporates elements of traditional montage theory as the foundation for transforming data into narrative components that create a unique experience for the user. Through juxtaposition or association, the user assembles these fragments into a conceptual whole, deriving a unique, individual meaning from the narrative sequence they construct. In this interactive paradigm, the designer must link the conceptual environment with a visual interface that contributes to the user's emotional tone by anticipating their interaction with the project?s elements. This involves connecting the objective realities of the design environment with the subjective realities of the user' their thoughts, memories, and emotions. Metaphor, contrast and repetition provide non-literal alternatives in creating navigational choices that are thematically relevant, aesthetically evocative and tied to those subjective elements that enrich the user experience.

Interactive narrative, emotionally driven design, Macromedia Flash, montage theory