How Close Are We from True Interactive Drama?
More than ever, video games appear to be a storytelling media. However, the player’s gaming activity, as she is interacting with the game mechanics, tends to be separated from the narrative component. The perspective of Interactive Drama, as introduced 30 years ago, according to which the player would be a character, interacting with NPCs as the heroes in a play or movie and influencing the course of the story, has not been fully achieved so far.
Academic research for the last decades in Interactive Digital Storytelling has investigated how Artificial Intelligence could contribute to fulfilling this goal. Are we there yet? Research prototypes have shown that AI could be used to build a psycho-social layer for games, serving as a backbone for procedural narrative. It also been shown that this layer needs to be completed by higher level narrative properties, such as tension, suspense or surprise, related to the cognitive and emotional nature of narrative, as a communication device between an author and its audience. These properties can also be modeled using AI. Finally, we have learnt that content is crucial: while authoring burden have lead some researcher to investigate machine learning for inferring computational models of narrative, others incorporate the authoring process within the design of models. That’s where industry could meet research, bridging the gap between advanced computational narrative systems and content creators.