January 22, 2004

Making, Not Telling

by Andrew Stern · , 3:10 pm

Sorry to possibly set off yet another terminology debate — I’m really tired of them — but does it bother other people as much it bothers me to hear the term “digital storytelling” or worse, the oxymoron “interactive storytelling”?

If you assume a primary pleasure of interactive experiences is agency, as I do, then the suffix “-telling” should be avoided. I’m interested in experiences in which the player is collaborating with the system to help make, to co-create, to have meaningful affect on the story, not be told a story.

I prefer more open terms such as “interactive story“, “interactive drama”, “electronic literature” or “interactive fiction”.

The only way I can understand the use of the term “storytelling” is for an experience in which the player has little or no agency, which is one that holds much less interest for me.