Skip to main content

Blogging the MOOC - The Future of Storytelling with Iversity - Part 5, 6, 7 and 8

Continuing (only just!) to blog on the Massive Open Online Course - Thoughts and Impressions.

Chapter 5

Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer
Guest Lecturers:  Dr Mark Butler, University of Potsdam, Dr. Winfried Gerling, Prof. Constanze Langer,
Grit Schuster

Unit 1 - Introduction

CM Schollerer introduces the unit and shares that it will be on digital games this week.

Unit 2 - Gameplaying and Storytelling
Dr Mark Butler from Potsdam at the Museum of Digital Games in Berlin.  Showing the history of games and discussing 'do games tell stories?/

Ludology - the study of games

Ludologists - scholars who see games as a form of rule system v. narratologists who see them as a medium of storytelling

The first video game SPACEWARS (1962) was based on the novels of Edward E. King

Donkey Kong was the first video game with a clear story.

How do games tell stories?  With settings, plots, omnipresent off-screen narrators, characters, dialogues, internal monologues.

Cutscenes - scenes were player is spectator.  They can be pre-produced video files or they can be ingame engine videos.  Cutscenes advance the plot, introduce characters, enhance development of stories, give clues, provide background information and atmosphere.  They can also be used to interrupt the game.

Now being explored:  quick time events, scripted game scenes

Names mentioned:  Don Bluth, David Cage.

Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls

Core Question:  A bit of gaming history.  Which now famous video game character made his/her first appearance in the 1981 'Donkey Kong' arcade game?  Answer:  Mario  Events in which the player is a spectator is a cut-scenes.

Unit 3 - Scenes and Actions

Setting the gamic scene.

Grand theft auto.  Bioshock.

Player as protagonist in the story

Elaborate, performative, narrative dimension

Thought cues

In games, one is now encouraged to make meaningful decisions, explore alternatives.

Core Question: In the case of GRAND THEFT AUTO,  whole array of virtual media is used to set the scene.  According to Mark Butler, what is the most important one in this particular game?  Radio

Core Question II: According to the media theorist Alexander Galloway, what is the key element in computer games?  Action.

This course was like a walk in the park earlier.  It's getting more 'academic' now.

Unit 4 - Adventure Game Architecture.

Action Adventure Games - Role-Playing Games - Strategy Games

Adventure Game Architecture - beginning, middle, end stories - places, maps,paths- series of decisions

Beginning configuration/end configuration

Integrated elements - indications, information

Distributional elements - kernels, catalyses

Recurring themes: Doors, thresholds, explorative journeys, quests, battles with adversaries, the restoring of order, empowerment fantasies

Adventure journey, rites of passage

Core Question:  Which of the following are examples of text-based games?  Zork, The Secret of Monkey Island, Spacewar, Advent.  ANSWERS, Zor AND Advent

Core Question II:  Claus Pias applied Roland Barthes structural analysis to adventure games in order to distinguish between two main types of structural elements.  Identify the two:  compositional elements, distributional elements, attributional elements, integrational elements.

Unit 5 - The Future of Computer Game Storytelling

Toolkit and language of computer games;  cut scenes, interactive scripted events, ambient narration, performance as narrative, adventure game architecture, distributional and integrative elements, thought cues, increasing audio-visual fidelity.

diversification of formats
reduction of games size

further future developments - the increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence, increasing complexities of game words, increasing importance of emergent story telling (story generation), semantic web dialogues, increasing importance of ethical decisions. the increasing implementation of games worlds which react to the actions of the player, new and innovative implementationof storytelling devices in open world settings.

Core Question:  In future, Mark Butler expects to see:  More cut scenes in computer games, more episodic games with downloadable content, a clear separation between story and gameplay.   Answer is the second option.

Unit 6

Talk - Dr Mark Butler and Dr. Winfried Gerling

Which of the following games are quoted by Mark Butler as having interesting  spatial structures which differ from realistic representation?

Antichamber - Yes
Echochrome - Yes
Beyond Two Souls - No
Portal - yes

Whereas BEYOND TWO SOULS is a great example for experimental use of narrative structures, the games ANTICHAMBER, ECHOCHROME and PORTAL show us new representations of space and spatial

Players emotions will be part of the game.

Virtual Reality to Real Virtuality

Mixed Reality, improved reality, augmented reality..

Google glass opens up a new dimension of gaming.

Future of gaming - game engines as story engines.

User generated story content

Will cinema die because of games?  No, cinema does something completely different.

Unit 7 

Podcast conversation between Prof. Constanze Langer and Grit Schuster about the design of digital games and the future of storytelling through digital games.  All good stuff.

Unit 8

Creative Task of the Week - what digital game fascinates you and why?

I gave a boring, text answer.

The digital game which has fascinated me for years is Tetris.  I don't know whether it is the tune (the traditional one) or else the concept.  I just love doing it and seeing how fast I can go each time.  My other favourite it a traditional one too...Pac Man.  The truth is, I'm not very up to date with digital gaming.  Games are games.  Stories are for books.  That's just me, I'm afraid!

That is the thing.

Comment on Chapter 5 - there was a huge amount of information on digital gaming.  Not really for me, I'm afraid. I don't mind digital gaming as a way of having a diversion, but when it comes to story telling, I'm a book person, a magazine person and a blog person.  I sometimes like to do a bit of craft to divert my mind. Digital games are no big thing for me.  My kids like them, though.  I suspect my husband does too.  The creative task of the week wasn't too difficult to do.  I was afraid we'd have to write a digital game or something....


Unit 1

Location based storytelling (LBG) - technical instruments required.(smartphone).

A location based game designer is present to share insight.

An augmented reality game.

Reminds me of a treasure hunt.  All fascinating, but I think to myself, who has time to play these games?  Isn't reality far more interesting than a simulated game world?  Give me a good book any day.

Core question (first):  What is required for location based games:  a) A strong lean-forward approach, b) experience in adventure/computer games  c)  Previous knowledge of the location  d)  A GPS ready device?

The answer is a) and d).

Core question (second): How does augmented reality games affect the environment (choice):  Answer: It can add to and  hide or cover up elements of reality.

Unit 2 - Where Does Location-Based Storytelling Come From?

Core Question:  Which of the following is an example of a board game turned into an LBG?

  • Ingress
  • Secret City
  • Mister X Mobile
  • Can You See Me Now?
It was Mister X Mobile.

Talking about 'geocaching' - 

The extended screen - augmented reality.
Geocaching seems like a treasure hunt.
Yes, it's a scavenger hunt
Same principles.  A treasure hunt using GPS and mobile devices.

Unit 3 - Digging Deeper - Narrative Design and Game Mechanics

Core Question:  In the LBG SECRET CITY the 'object of desire is: Max, the missing person.
Core question 2:  In what way are LBGs similar to adventure computer games like Indiana Jones:  The player has an inventory of collected items and dialogue choices.

Inciting incident, call to adventure, hero's journey.

Unit 4 - How to Create a Location Based Game or Story?Core question:  If you decide to create a site-specific LBG, you need to consider that:

  • You will have a limited number of participants
  • You will not be able to incorporate the environment deeply into the game
  • The environment can change over time, so you may have to update the game
The first and last options works.

"Keeping it Simple" when creating LBGs means:

  • You have to strike a balance between innovative and well-known story elements/structures and technologies used.
  • You have to think of the audience as dumb
  • You can save a lot of time and energy by simply copying existing concepts that have proven successful.
The first the answer.

Creative Task of the Week:

Create an LBG:


I don't have GPS, it's the middle of the night and I'm rushing to finish this course before midnight on 31st December.  Okay.  

I get a text from my friend, a fictional character called Surabhi, who asks me to meet her outside a local market.  I go to the market.  She is not there.  A shopkeeper who knows me calls me over and says that Surabhi had to leave suddenly after getting a call.  She asked the shopkeeper to tell me to follow her to a local guest house.  I reach the guest house (know it but would have to give GPS directions to players).  When I reach there, there is no sign of my friend.  I ask at reception and the information is that I have to go to a local railway ticket booking office and get a message there from Surabhi.  I walk to that office and the assistant there informs me (well, it's a small place) that Surabhi purchased railway tickets to Delhi from there and left immediately.  

Frustrated, I walk home and Surabhi is waiting for me there.  She had come to town the night before and booked in at the guest house.  She had asked me to meet her at the local market so we could meet outside my home for coffee.  While waiting, she got a call that her mother had taken ill at Delhi and she had to leave.  She went back to the guest house, checked out, went to purchase tickets and then went to my home to ask if I could call her a taxi to the railway station.  Not much of a mystery, is it?  But at least it's an effort...


This was a more enjoyable and understandable chapter than the previous one, which was heavy on academic information about what I would consider to be entertainment choices.  This was enjoyable.  But I'm not sure about the reason why people would go for LBGs..

Chapter 7

Unit 1 - Introduction to Transmedia Storytelling

How to get started in Transmedia Storytelling.

Robert Pratten

Core Question:  Which of these two approaches in what can be called transmedia storytelling?

  • Adapting existing stories to different types of media eg turning a novel into a movie or a movie into a computer game
  • Having different types of media present individual stories which,  as a whole, make up a larger story world.
The answer is the second one.

What is TM storytelling - telling a story off multiple platforms

Old way - Hollywood, film to book.

Book was great, film was awful.  In Transmedia - prequel as web series, main event as a movie, game as a sequel...

Innovative ideas....Robert Pratten is an interesting speaker.

Unit 2 - Portmanteau vs. Franchise Transmedia

Core Question 1:  According to Robert Pratten, what is the difference between franchise transmedia and portmanteau transmedia?

  • While portmanteau transmedia creates a story world consisting of several individual stories, franchise transmedia only tells a single story.
  • The term franchise transmedia refers exclusively to Hollywood productions, while low-budget productions are called portmanteau transmedia.
  • While franchise transmedia creates a story world consisting of several individual stories, portmanteau transmedia only tells one single story.
The answer is the third option.

Core Question 2:
In regards to what he calls active creation of belief  Robert Pratten explains that:

  • It is sufficient for transmedia storytellers to concentrate only on the media relevant to the story.
  • Transmedia storytellers should cover every platform available
  • It is not about convincing the audience that the story is real, but making them want to believe it.
Option one and three actually.

Robert Pratten's definition of the two types of transmedia story telling:

Franchise Transmedia: Different stories of the same story world spread across different media platforms

Portmanteau Transmedia:  Expanding one single story across different media.

Robert Pratten's book GETTING STARTED IN TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING is available free on his website.

Active creation of belief as opposed to suspension of disbelief:

A very interesting unit....

Unit 3 - How to Create a Transmedia Project

Core Question:  When creating a transmedia project, thinking about the user experience...

  • is less important than when writing a book.
  • is about as difficult as when writing a book
  • is even more challenging and relevant than when writing a book
The second option is correct.

Questions for transmedia storytellers to consider:

Who is our audience?
What technology do they have available?
How much time do they have available?
What is the pacing?
What is the benefit of using different platforms?

According to Robert Pratten, a lot of current 'second screen apps' which accompany live tv shows

  • are used to distract the experiencer from dull content
  • are examples of good transmedia storytelling
  • are designed under the misconception that users like to tune in to live shows
The first and last options are the ones.

Another enjoyable unit.

Unit 4 - Alternate Reality Games

Input from Patrick Moller, transmedia expert.

Core Question:  Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are typical examples of what Robert Pratten would call 

  • Portmanteau Transmedia
  • multi-platform entertainment
  • franchise transmedia
Portmanteau transmedia.

The story which is told in ARG is alternate reality....

What is TINAG?  This Is Not A Game....  It's a principle

The players can't know everything.

Alice In Wonderland could be a game....

Story world, story universe?

preplotted story  ......  milestones/plotpoints

Core question 2:  All parts of an ARG are designed to form a story universe in itself, with the outside world having no importance.  What is the special concept called?  TINAG (This is not a game!).

Unit 5 - Creative Task of the Week - Meet Aunt Renie

Aunt Renie is travelling the world.  Have her visit our country.

Okay, here goes:


Aunt Renie became extremely irate with shopkeepers in India who saw her as a rich foreigner with bags of money which she would, of course, be only too willing to throw in their direction.  When she emerged from the train on the platform at Char Bagh railway station in Lucknow, she was rather confused.  However, a kind gentleman, a doctor who had been sitting opposite her on the train, saw her safely to her hotel in an auto rickshaw.  A kind friend had gifted her with a few days in a five star hotel which she found very sustaining, however, she noticed many things outside the hotel, such as holy beggars and people like cobblers working on the pavement.  She found it quite astonishing.  

She found it very difficult to shop for souvenirs as she was constantly under siege from sellers.  However, a young lady named Surabhi, who she met at the hotel, was very helpful and took her to the shops and to some nice places to eat.  Aunt Renie particularly enjoyed browsing the bookshops of Hazratganj in Lucknow and eating the spicy chat available in roadside eateries.  Surabhi was careful only to allow her to eat at reputable places, however.  

Although she ran into a few problems along the way, the fact that in India a guest is a god made Aunt Renie's stay very good at times.


This wasn't one of the lighter chapters, but it was one of my more interesting ones.


Unit 1 - Intro To the last week

This is simply an introduction to the chapter.  This chapter will feature Maria Grau Stenzel with her project MILLI and Cornelia Funke with her new novel series.

Unit 2 - Milli & Interaction

Core question: According to Maria Grau Stenzel (Honig Studios), which were the most difficult interactive elements when designing the MILLI app?

  • Those which are used to teach children something?
  • Those necessary to develop the story?
  • Those that are fun
  • The repetitive ones as children are easily bored.

The answer is the second option.

MILLI - A Little Big Journey around the world.  Milli is a snail.  It is an educational app.  


  1. story driven
  2. fun 
  3. repetition
  4. learning
  5. discovery
Unit 3 - Mirrorworld - Cornelia Funke

Core question:  Cornelia Funke prefers the Mirrorworld App to classic movie adaptation of her novels because ...

  1. She feels it is growing the story world instead of shrinking it
  2. She thinks that movie adaptations are a thing of the 20th century and outdated
  3. She personally is not attracted to the cinematic media
  4. She believes that the adaptation of the book as an app lets the story come alive
The first and last options are correct.

Unit 4 - Mirorworld App and the importance of collaboration

Core Question 1:  The Mirrorworld app follows a non-linear approach.  Which collective term does Robert Pratten use for the different story elements the user can experience?

  • Jumping off points
  • Active creation of belief
  • world building pieces
The third option is correct. 

Core Question 2:  For Cornelia Funke, the individual work on a novel....

  • is a thing of the past and thus something she has quit.
  • is still very important for a writer of today
  • always relies on feedback and inspirations from others as well
  • leads to better results than collaboration
The second and third options above.

Content or technology - which is king?

Robert Pratten explained the Mirrorworld app.

Everybody has access to creative tools.

Writing is the input of the author.  The app is a creation of a team.

Unit 5 - Cornelia Funke - Content Vs. Technology

Core question:  Regarding the relationship between technology and story in transmedia storytelling, Cornelia Funke insists on:

  • The technology being the servant of the story
  • technology and story being of equal importance
  • The use of the newest technology available                                  
The first option above.

Also mentioned, some interactive games like ALONE

Unit 6 - Major Changes in Storytelling

What are the major changes in storytelling right now?

The internet has opened up the doors.

Core Question:  Which of the following terms, often linked with computer technology, does Janet Murray apply to stories?

  • word processing
  • database
  • operating system
  • software
The second option 

Accordiing to Patrick Moller, two distinct perspectives exist in storytelling.  Which one?

  1. The critic
  2. the protagonist
  3. the experiencer
  4. the publisher
  5. the storyteller's
Unit 7

Wrap up and final creative task.

This was a great course.  I really enjoyed it.  It was a unique experience.

Thanks to the team.



Popular posts from this blog


Many years ago, when I lived in Dublin, I met someone nice and started dating. I wasn't serious, I just thought we could have nice interesting discussions about India, which I found absolutely fascinating, as I was working in the Embassy of India back then. I had no intention of getting attached with a foreigner, with all the attendant cultural problems. I was happy living in Ireland and the idea of marriage couldn't have been further from my mind. We both thought we could just keep things in control. One day, after a lot of emotional turmoil and denial, it hit us both that we were in love. Truly. Madly. Irrevocably. To the point where we couldn't live without each other. I'd known about the Indian system of arranged marriages and when it occurred to me that he would probably be married off by his family as soon as he returned to India, I felt physically ill at the thought. We are both tenacious and patient people. We realised that bringing our two worlds together

Kipling Got it Wrong! Or Eastern and Western Culture - Reflections

What Is Culture? I’m opening this blog post with a question. What is that elusive concept which is commonly known as ‘culture? Culture is way of life. How we live. What our values are.  Our customs, attitudes and perceptions. And also, I suppose, how we express ourselves in art through, such as music, dance, theatre and cinema.  It’s quite a comprehensive area and not too easy to define, really. Travel between east and west is common nowadays The Journey I was born in what is commonly known as ‘the west’. I lived in Ireland for the first thirty years of my life. When I was thirty, I married my husband and came out to India to live here with him. That was the beginning of an interesting journey, which is still evolving. I must have had some east/west comparison stereotypes in my head. But in India, I found that the people I met had huge stereotypes in their heads about what they called ‘western culture’ and ‘western way of life’. Not long after

The Tale of One Kitty

The cat..... Those who know me already might say that they didn't know I had a cat.  I didn't, you know! Our dog, Duggu is such a handful, I didn't think we could take on another pet. But a few months ago, a beautiful cat (whom we eventually named Puggle)  arrived. She's not really ours..... Nope! She's someone else's cat who just went on what the Aussies might call a walkabout. My younger daughter Riya found her on the roof of our house, a pretty calico (three-coloured) cat. Riya was instantly smitten. Some milk was fed to the little creature and the deal was sealed. Puggle has been a regular visitor to our house ever since. And two days after she arrived, in mid-May, she gave birth to four kittens. We'd had no idea the kitty was enceinte. So what did we do? What can you do? If a single mom landed on your doorstep and gave birth in your house, what would you do? Try to help, obviously. As the cat bore no identification and had been roaming the colony unst