The Ontology Project for Interactive Digital Narrative

We invite participants to the Games & Narrative workshop at ICIDS 2015 that serves as the start for the Ontology Project for Interactive Digital Narrative.

The half-day workshop is open to scholars, practitioners, students, artists and all the attendees of the ICIDS Conference on December 1, 2015.

Current research in Interactive Digital Narrative lacks methodologies enabling precise comparisons and categorizations across broad sets of artifacts. Analytical terminologies rooted in unilinear, non-interactive narrative criticism does not help, as evidenced by Aarseth’s (1997) contention that yet another re-interpretation of a term like “text” is inconsequential and Nitsche (2008) calls the current state of affairs in narratology “potentially confusing.” Consequently, as researchers in IDN routinely face the need to redefine the vocabulary they adopt, we observe the use of terms that are in part borrowed from game journalism, in part reinterpreting legacy concepts, and in part invented anew.

With this workshop we aim at discussing how constitutive elements of IDNs may be conceptualized and operationalized to allow a systematic description of a variety of artifacts according to shared specifications. Following up on a multi-year research initiative that has addressed a common vocabulary, narrative models and categorizations for the analysis and design of IDN artifacts, we believe that the field is now ready for a more stringent and formal approach based on ontologies. We are inspired also by similar efforts in the cognate field of game studies and game design (Zagal, Bruckman, 2008). As ontologies and specifications significantly multiply their usefulness with a broad acceptance in the community of researchers and designers, we aim a bootstrapping a shared process of categorization.

In this workshop, we will conduct practical evaluations of preliminary proposals for IDN ontologies, starting with the SNAPS categorisation ( Each participant is invited to briefly introduce 1-2 Interactive Digital Narrative exemplars, of which we will collectively outline an ontology-based description. Moreover, the workshop will progressively generate new categories and specifications to accommodate further exemplars, thus kickstarting the creation of a “living document” with best practices and proposed ontologies. We will finally discuss further steps and iterations towards a more comprehensive framework to be circulated in the coming year.

Register by email at

The Games & Narrative Group

Hartmut, Gabriele, Mads, Digdem & Tonguc