21L489J/21W765/21L989(G) Theory and Practice of Non-Linear and Interactive Narrative

Janet H. Murray

This course has been offered since 1992. Formerly entitled, "Structure and Interpretation of Non-Linear and Interactive Narrative," it examines non-linear structure in traditional media like novels and films and as well as in computer-based stories and games. The course focuses on the aesthetics of the emerging art form of electronic narrative, including principles and techniques of segmentation, navigation, juxtaposition, encyclopedic storylines, and multiple points of view. Through critical readings and examples, students explore issues such as indeterminacy and closure, the positioning of the interactor, formulaic plot construction, and games as narrative structures. The course includes an annual contest for the most satisfying interactive character, many web-based assignments, and the creation of electronic stories using simple authoring systems and multimedia software tools. Students present and constructively critique one another's work in progress in a workshop setting aimed at expanding the representational powers of a new creative medium.

Graduate students may take this course as 21L989 for graduate credit, which involves extended assignments. Students from other institutions with cross-registration arrangements with MIT should contact the instructor. Since this is a workshop course, no auditors are permitted.

No programming experience is necessary.

This course will be offered next in Spring 1999.

Some Representative Assignments and Student Work from Previous Years: