GDC 2013 Talk

The Script

I just finished cleaning up the script for the GDC2013 talk and it can be gotten from here:

Additional Resources

The following blog posts are probably also of interest:

Story: What is it really about?

This goes into more depth on how to view a story. I think this is really important in order to come to terms with interactive storytelling.

The problem of Repetition

Repetition is a problem when presence is a goal. Here is a list of pitfalls and how to solve them.

Finding videogame’s true voice

This articles explores the “agreeable action outcome” design some more.

Highlevel story telling design

Goals and Storytelling

Both of these explore the construction of a story space.

Puzzles, what are they good for?

Puzzles and causal histories

These articles use the “interaction for presence”-axiom to view puzzles in a new way.

These should hopefully help clear out a few things from the talk.

I also have a more academic, and much more detailed, version of the talk. It can be found here:

This versions does not discuss story-spaces, but provides a lot more rules for how to create interactions that support presence. It has also sources for most of the claims a I make and some more advanced discussions.


Finally, I wanted to give the question, “Why does Minecraft and Dark Souls, despite being gamey, have such a strong sense of presence?”, a better answer. So here that comes:

The reason why this can be true is because the fiction of these games correlate 1:1 with their mechanics. Let’s take Dark Souls as the example. Just about any action that you make is directly, or very closely, related to the combat. It is a game about killing monsters and it takes place in world where you are tasked to do just that. The game does not suggest that the monsters have feelings, daily routines, or something like that. Their only purposes in life is to kill you and others like you. There is nothing in the game’s internal systems that can take away from this fiction, it can even handle AI acting up and similar. It is a robust fiction. The same line of thinking can be used for Minecraft.

I think that the above is what has led many people astray. Right now the games that can provide a strong narrative that emerge directly from play, are games that very gamey and containing tight core gameplay loops. It is easy to think that think of this as the way forward, that to evolve storytelling we must simply find other core loops; a belief that often leads to seeing tech as our ultimate savior.

My talk (and paper) on presence and storytelling is a description of why this is not a way forward. Core loops only work so far. We must start thinking in different directions in order to take our stories into new territories.