Week 1 Homework

Step 1: Go to the discussion board and write a post introducing yourself to the other students in the class (you can include information about your career, studies or narrative interests).

Step 2: Write a second post on the discussion board. This will be an analysis of a digital narrative.

Start by choosing a digital narrative to examine (this could be a game, an app, a website, an interactive video clip or any other digital work that employs the representational power of the computer - there are some suggestions below in the sections on indie games, webdocs and experimental projects).

  1. Describe any story elements present in the work - events, actors, time and place.
  2. Describe any narrative elements present in the work - ordering, pace, focalization, narration, text.
  3. Does the work exhibit any of the frameworks of traditional storytelling, such as a protagonist/antagonist, a three-act structure or heroic journey?
  4. Does the work exhibit one or more of the unique characteristics of digital media? For instance, does it combine a variety of media, such as text, image, video and sound in new and fluid ways? Is it modular and/or variable? Can its separate media files can be recombined in different ways? Is it participatory? Can you change the work, add to it, or communicate with other people through it? Is it automated? Does it exhibit programmed behaviours or rules? Does it simulate some kind of object, system or intelligent agent?
  5. To what extent does the work tell a 'story' in the traditional sense? Does it tell or convey a story in a non-traditional manner?

Word count: approximately 800-1000 words / 5 paragraphs (See 'Can I exceed the word count?' on the Course FAQs page).

Due date: Sunday, midnight, 8 March (end of week 1).

Marks: This analysis is a draft. I will give you some general feedback about your draft and this will allow you to improve your written expression and analytical skills early in the semester. At the end of week 6 you will submit this analysis (and several other class exercises) as part of your Reflective Blog (50%).

What are indie games?

They are made by individuals or small teams of people, and they are usually self-funded. This freedom from commercial constraints enables game designers to produce highly innovative and experimental games. Indie titles such as Braid, World of Goo, Limbo and Minecraft have gone on to commercial success, but most indie games make little money, if any.

Although an indie game may lack the production value of a major commercial title, it can make up for this with ingenuity and invention. If you are interested in making games yourself, indie games can be a source of inspiration. Even if you are not interested in being a game designer, indie games will make you think about the videogames as an evolving art form.

Some indie games are free, whilst others can be bought for a small fee. Feel free to choose any indie game that interests you. You may already know of one that you would like to play, or you may try one from the following lists:

Independent Games Festival Finalists
Five smart, different, creative indie browser games The 6 Best Games on Web Browsers
Live Free, Play Hard: The Week's Best Free Indie Games
Indigame Magazine Free to play
The 25 Best Indie Games of 2012

What are webdocs? 

They are also known as an interactive documentaries, i-docs or multimedia documentaries. Webdocs are stories of documentary character published on the Internet. They can be put together in different ways, use different interfaces and have different approaches to their subject matter, but they have several features in common. 

Viewers are now interactors. Viewers can choose from various options within the web documentary, thereby influencing how the story unfolds. As such, they are somewhere in between being viewers and authors and in between having a passive and a participatory role. They can join discussions, upload photos, take part in competitions or voting. A web documentary can be an active platform for topics or communities years after its release.

They are usually built through a collaboration between designers, artists, photographers and programmers who work alongside the directors and producers.

The 6 Most Innovative Interactive Web Documentaries
Top 5: Interactive Documentaries at RIDM and IDFA DocLab 
Bear 71

Experimental Storytelling

There are many digital narratives that are difficult to classify. Some of these are interactive music clips or crowdsourced art works. If they present a character, an event, or sequence of events, and they take place in a world (a time-space continuum) then they can be classed as a narrative. Note that sometimes you (or your avatar) are the character in the story.

Chris Milk

Beginning his career in music videos and photography, Chris Milk’s work has expanded beyond the traditional: his art straddles experimental genres and unfamiliar mediums, turning new technologies, web browsers, ephemeral events and even physical gestures into new found canvasses.

Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris is a digital artist, known for his work with data visualization and storytelling.
He is the creator of seminal interactive projects like We Feel Fine, 10x10, The Whale Hunt, Wordcount, and I Love Your Work, and is the founder of the storytelling community, Cowbird.