Abstract Interactive storytelling (IS) is a promising new entertainment technology synthesizing preauthored narrative with dynamic user interaction. Existing IS prototypes employ different modes to involve users in a story, ranging from individual avatar control to comprehensive control over the virtual environment. The current experiment tested whether different player modes (exerting local vs. global influence) yield different user experiences (e.g., senses of immersion vs. control). A within-subject design involved 34 participants playing the cinematic IS drama „Emo Emma“ both in the local (actor) and in global (ghost) mode. The latter mode allowed free movement in the virtual environment and hidden influence on characters, objects, and story development. As expected, control-related experiential qualities (effectance, autonomy, flow, and pride) were more intense for players in the global (ghost) mode. Immersion-related experiences did not differ over modes. Additionally, men preferred the sense of command facilitated by the ghost mode, whereas women preferred the sense of involvement facilitated by the actor mode.
Advances in gaming and other entertainment technologies are evolving rapidly and create new conceptual challenges for understanding and explaining the user experiences they can facilitate. The present article reports a prospective study on a particularly promising entertainment technology of the future: Interactive storytelling (IS). Integrating various streams of computing technology, such as advanced visualization, natural speech processing, and autonomous agents, IS systems are envisioned to offer new, personalized and thus unique kinds of entertainment to mass audiences of the future. The authors refer to existing models of media entertainment for a theoretical analysis and analyze expert interviews with members of the international IS development community to lay out the foundations for a forecast model of the entertainment experience of future IS systems. The resulting model organizes fundamental requirements, modes of users’ information processing, and specific types of (pleasant) experiences, which holds implications for (future) entertainment theory and research that accompanies further development of IS media.
Two experiments tested the prediction that video game players identify with the character or role they are assigned, which leads to automatic shifts in implicit self-perceptions. Video game identification, thus, is considered as a kind of altered self-experience. In Study 1 (N = 61), participants either played a first-person shooter game or a racing game. Subsequently, they performed an Implicit Association Test (IAT) designed to detect cognitive associations between character-related concepts and players‘ self. Findings indicate a stronger automatic association of military-related concepts to shooter players‘ self and a stronger association of racing-related concepts to racing game players‘ self. Study 2 (N = 48) replicated the IAT result from Study 1 and demonstrated the stability of the identification pattern. Implications for identification as an element of the video game experience and future research directions are discussed.