[ISEA2009] Paper: Jichen Zhu & Fox Harrell – Memory, Reverie Machine: toward a dance of agency in interactive storytelling


“I wonder if a memory is something you have or something you’ve lost”.  _Another Woman, Dir. Woody Allen, 1988.

In many interactive narrative pieces, agency is often narrowly understood as a user’s freedom to either perform actions or alter the mechanics of narration at will. This paper presents an interactive narrative project, Memory, Reverie Machine (MRM), which explores the expressive use of agency as a narrative device. After a concise review of the concept’s rich social implications and its adaptation in digital media, this paper presents MRM’s main theme – the protagonist’s self-discovery portrayed through dynamic shifting of a balance between the user’s agency and the system’s agency, a dance of agency. Finally, we discuss two ways in which the project’s theme is instantiated: via the control scheme and via the narration of computationally generated memories and daydreams.

  • Jichen Zhu & Fox Harrell, PhD Digital Media Program, School of Literature, Communication, and Culture, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Full text (PDF)  p.  321-326