The Digital Story Structure Project uses interactive digital formats to model complex narrative structures. We start from the premise that the new affordances of digital representation offer the possibility for creating and experiencing more complex story forms, including multi-sequential stories, stories with multiple protagonists, and parameterized narrative scenarios with multiple potential outcomes. We seek to contribute to the collective process of inventing a more expressive and complex storytelling medium by identifying the underlying story structures that allow viewers to experience sustained narrative immersion within cognitively challenging story worlds with multiple characters, multiple points of view, and multiple possible instantiations of the same scenario.
Starting in Fall 2017 the Digital Story Structure Project is focusing on the multiple dramatic character arcs developed in HBO’s multi-season television series Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s series of novels, and featuring over 100 memorable characters. We are exploring ways of representing this complexity as an interactive application that could also serve as a means of navigating the entire series archive following single characters or focusing on the intersections between key characters. The project builds on previous projects of the etv lab (such as this one: http://etv.gatech.edu/2014/11/18/game-of-thrones-companion-app/ ), and on the theoretical framework set out in Janet Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (updated edition, MIT Press, 2017).
Future work will examine other structural elements that support narrative comprehension in complex storyworlds, such as formulaic scene construction and the ultimate goal of the project is to apply this structural knowledge to the creation of born-digital storyworlds that exploit the intersection of computational affordances with cultural traditions of narrative abstraction to expand human expressivity and the boundaries of shared understanding.