TIE Proposal: Making Interactive Fiction

I am pitching this idea on Interactive Fiction Writing at the Technology in Education Conference in Western Massachusetts as part of the “unconference” part of the, eh, conference today. So, if my ideas gets accepted, you are probably here. If not accepted, you are still here. Welcome. Now, how about making a playable story?

There are many posts here about Interactive Fiction and digital writing, if you are interested.

Peace (in every direction),
Kevin

 

#NetNarr: Neil Stephenson’s Illustrated Primer of Interactive Wonder

I admit, I can’t quite remember where I came across a recent reference to A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer: a Propædeutic Enchiridion, the imaginary book at the center of Neil Stephenson’s novel, The Diamond Age. But I found myself diving into Wikipedia to refresh my memory because it seems like the book might connect somehow to the Networked Narratives digital storytelling course about to start up with Mia Zamora and Alan Levine (see his open invite here).

from https://hughsreviews.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/hugh-reviews-diamond-age-by-neal-stephenson/

Hugh’s Reviews — https://hughsreviews.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/hugh-reviews-diamond-age-by-neal-stephenson/

 

The Illustrated Primer is one of Stephenson’s vision of the future of books and texts that adapt to the reader, changing to meet the needs of the life of the reader in a society of stratus, status and privilege. It has been years since I read The Diamond Age, so I don’t rightly remember all of the plot or the role of the primer itself.

Still (I did the bold of text here):

The Primer is intended to steer its reader intellectually toward a more interesting life, as defined by “Equity Lord” Alexander Chung-Sik Finkle-McGraw, and growing up to be an effective member of society. The most important quality to achieving an “interesting life” is deemed to be a subversive attitude towards the status quo. The Primer is designed to react to its owners’ environment and teach them what they need to know to survive and develop.Wikipedia

It occurs to me that one of the themes that Mia has talked about when designing the NetNarr course has been the idea of our “civic imagination,” which I intend to dive into more thoroughly in the coming weeks. As I understand it, the concept of civic imagination is meant to provide us with a way to transform our stories into action.

In The Diamond Age, this theme also seems to run through the story, but in a darker way.

Although The Diamond Age explores the role of technology and personal relationships in child development, its deeper and darker themes also probe the relative values of cultures (which Stephenson explores in his other novels as well) and the shortcomings in communication between them. — from Steampunk Wiki

I suspect the course itself — open to anyone, although there is a university component that will be playing/learning along — will explore the ways in which literature and interactive fiction is both the source of agency for us, as writers and readers, and a source of concern of the loss of agency, via technology advancements. Someone is bound to go down the dark path of exploration, I hope, and not leave the course to all of the techno-evangelists (as I often am) viewing the world through rosy glasses.

Peace (it’s written in my primer),
Kevin

 

Interact: A Q from a Past S


flickr photo shared by monojussi under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

I received this email the other day from a past student. They were in one of the first classes I ever used Twine with, as we were crafting interactive fiction stories as a writing activity. Years later, I guess that experience still sticks.

Dear Mr. Hodgson,

               Hi, how are you? I need a refresher on how to operate the Twine program for my science project. Is their any written form of instructions to operate the system that I could have a copy of? Or any other ideas to help me with my project will be fine. Thank you for time, I look forward to hear from you.
Sincerely,
(Student)

I was so happy to hear from this student because I last saw them in the high school theater production but I was also very happy that they were asking about how to use something we did in sixth grade for a high school project. That’s pretty cool, eh?

I sent this email, and a few others have gone back and forth in the last few days between us.

Hi (Student)
It’s great to hear from you.
Twine has a new version out, called Twine 2. It’s more web browser-based and more stable, I think.
For the older version of Twine, which was a software download, which we used in class, I always went to this site for help and instructions
We have begun using Google Slides and hyperlinks that jump from slide to slide as our main tool for Interactive Stories. It’s been pretty effective. You can do it right in your school Google account.
Inkewriter is another online tool
I hope that helps. Let me know how it goes. I’d love to play your project!
Sincerely,
Mr. Hodgson

I really do hope they sent me their project to play.

Peace (interact),
Kevin

Interactive Historical Fiction: Play/Read Student Projects

I’ve been writing about our Interactive Fiction Project for Digital Writing Month, and most of my students are now done or nearly finished. Here are a few of their stories that you can “play/read” to get a sense of what we have been up in the past 10 days or so. We were working on these stories in conjunction to lessons around Early Civilizations in the Social Studies class.

Storm by Elizabeth

Ancient People by Wil

Early Humans by Sara

Neanderthal by Ryan

The Wait by Ella

Peace (in your path),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Interactive Fiction 3: How to Use Twine 2

I’ve been writing about my Interactive Fiction project with my sixth graders these past few days (and I will try to share a few projects tomorrow) as we use Google Slides, but I also wanted to share out a quick tutorial on using the online version of Twine for making Interactive Stories. This is all part of Digital Writing Month, too.

Twine is a freeware program but there is now a beta version that works right in your browser. It allows you to create “choices” and branches, and it is quite interesting to use. The main downside of this kind of story creation is the hosting of the final file, as Twine itself is not a story hosting service. Also, know that this web-based version of Twine is still in development.

This part of my transmedia story from last week is an example of what Twine looks like. This piece by my friend, Anna, is what the older version of Twine looks like.

First, go to Twine 2

Then:

Twine Tutorial 1

Twine Tutorial 2

Twine Tutorial 3

Twine Tutorial 4

Twine Tutorial 5

Twine Tutorial 6

Twine Tutorial 7

Twine Tutorial 8

Peace (in the twining of the tales),
Kevin

#Digiwrimo Interactive Fiction 2: Screenshot Tutorials

I’ve been trying to create resources for the various digital writing pieces I am doing, in order to help me explain better to my students how to use technology and also, to encourage you to give it a try.

Here, I am trying to show how we use Google Slides (or Powerpoint or Keynote or other presentation software) to create Interactive Fiction stories, or Make Your Own Ending narratives. My students are working on their own Interactive Historical Fiction Stories right now.

These are the basics for using Slides to do this:

Interactive Fiction1

Interactive Fiction2

Interactive Fiction3

Interactive Fiction4

 

Peace (in the explain),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Interactive Fiction 1: Making a Playable Story

Story Map The Bike

I’ve been doing my best to bring elements of Digital Writing Month into my sixth grade classroom. We worked on Sound Stories and with images earlier in the month, and now, during this theme of “transmedia,” I have my students working on Interactive Fiction pieces. Interactive fiction is a designed story/game in which the reader is given choices to follow, and every choice branches off into another aspect of the story.

I’ve done these before with Twine, but the freeware didn’t always play nicely with our computers, although the new beta Twine 2.0 as online experience might be worth another look, and hosting the final products has become problematic now that Google Drive has changed the way public folders are set up. Here is a map for a Twine 2 story I did the other day for Digiwrimo:

Twine map

So, with my push this year around digital portfolios within Google Apps for Education, I am teaching my students how to use hyperlinks within a Google Slides project to create Interactive Fiction.

Using Google Slides for this style of writing is not perfect, but it works, and along with creating a non-traditional writing experience, it gives me a chance to teach them more about design and hyperlinks within presentation formats for the purpose of storytelling.

My students are writing historical interactive fiction, as I am connecting our project with work on early civilizations being done in our Social Studies class. Students are writing in second person narrative point of view, of an early human, surviving (or not) in the Ancient World, using sensory details and descriptive writing.

Yes, my students love this Interactive Fiction writing project, although most have never read the Make Your Own Ending stories (I have a class set that we read and talk about) and they are so deeply enmeshed in the writing experience right now. And yes, it is a very complicated writing endeavor. You have to plan for multiple story-lines in a single story experience, and let the reader “play the story,” as I have been saying each day.

Here are a few of their “story maps” — which I require to be done before they even touch a computer.

Interactive fiction maps

I’ll be sharing a bit over the next few days …. including a screenshot tutorial on how you might do similar stories in Google Slides. If you want a taste of what I am talking about, this is an Interactive Fiction piece that I wrote last year as a mentor text for my students (designed more as a mystery story, not historical fiction, which is what we are doing this year).

Come, play my story.

Peace (in the interactive),
Kevin

More Tinkering with Twine

Twining Around

Over at CLMOOC, some folks are playing with Twine this week for Interactive Fiction as game design. That brought me back onto Twine to play around with it a bit, too. Twine is a bit of a learning curve, but not too difficult.

Check out my story

Peace (in the twisting and turning of the twine),
Kevin

What Student Interactive Fiction Story Maps Look Liked

Yesterday, I shared how we are using Google Slides as the platform for Interactive Fiction stories where the writer provides choices for the reader in the narrative. The most important part of that kind of writing the planning of the story itself. It’s easy to get lost in the branches. So, students have to really think through where each and every choice will end up, and storymapping is a critical component of composition.

This is the one that I shared as a Mentor Text with students, and we looked at a few others, too, from the Make Your Own Adventures series of books.

Story Map The Bike

 

Check out a few of the storymaps from my sixth graders:
Interactive Fiction Story Map1

Interactive Fiction Story Map3

Interactive Fiction Story Map2

Makes you wonder what those stories will turn out to be, doesn’t it?

Peace (in the branches),
Kevin

Using Google Slides for Interactive Stories

Story Map The Bike

I almost ran out of time for Interactive Fiction with this year’s classes but then found a way into this very different kind of writing and reading. I had a two-day window to introduce the concept of Interactive Fiction — the kind of writing/reading where the writer leaves choices and the reader is in control. We read Make Your own Ending stories, and do a short writing activity where small stories are written with branches, and then shift to writing longer pieces.

In the past, I have used Twine with students, and while I liked it for the way it shows the visual branches, Twine was acting funky on our laptops last year and two days would never be enough to teach a new technology tool and have them plan/write their own. (If you use Twine, check out this site for tutorials.)

But it occurred to me that they already had a tool at hand: Google Slides. And we had already done much of the groundwork earlier in the year with Digital Poetry books. They knew how to add internal hyperlinks and create a network of paths. So, we dove into Google Slides to create some Interactive Fiction stories. They are not yet done, and even as we work on another story project to end the year (more later), the Interactive Fiction project is a nice extension project for my writers who are already finishing up their short story projects.

I did share my own Interactive Story with students as an example. You play it, too, if you want.

I’ll share out some of the story maps tomorrow … they are intriguing visuals of young writing minds at work.

Peace (choose it),
Kevin