The Potential of Interactive Digital Narratives. Agency and Multiple Perspectives in Last Hijack Interactive

  • Renske van EnschotEmail author
  • Iris Boogaard
  • Hartmut Koenitz
  • Christian Roth
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11869)


Interactive Digital Narratives (IDN) have the capacity to represent multiple, even competing perspectives and to allow audiences to change between them. Such meaningful changes have been defined as agency by Murray [1] transforming the audience into interactors. These experiential qualities of interactive digital narrative (IDN) define the potential of the form to improve the representation and understanding of complex topics. In this paper, we present an initial study designed to evaluate this potential of IDN by means of the complex topic of piracy in the region of Somalia. To this end, we ran an experiment comparing interactive and non-interactive versions of Last Hijack Interactive, an award-winning Dutch interactive documentary. With this study, we contribute to the establishment of an evaluation framework that can be used to more clearly identify the potential of IDN in terms of representing and understanding complexity. We discuss the results and propose next steps.


Narrative complexity Interactive documentary Interactive Digital Narrative User experience evaluation 


  1. 1.
    Murray, J.H.: Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. Free Press, New York (1997)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Koenitz, H.: Representations of complexity - Interactive Digital Narratives enabling discourse for the 21st Century. In: Keynote at Zip-Scene Conference, Budapest, 11 November 2018 (2018).
  3. 3.
    Roth, C., Koenitz, H.: Evaluating the user experience of interactive digital narrative. Presented at the 1st International Workshop on Multimedia Alternate Realities. ACM, New York (2016)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Downs, J.S., Murray, P.J., Bruine de Bruin, W., Penrose, J., Palmgren, C., Fischhoff, B.: Interactive video behavioral intervention to reduce adolescent females’ STD risk: a randomized controlled trial. Soc. Sci. Med. 59, 1561–1572 (2004)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Baranowski, T., Buday, R., Thompson, D.I., Baranowski, J.: Playing for real: video games and stories for health-related behavior change. Am. J. Prev. Med. 34, 74–82. e10 (2008)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Murray, J.H.: Hamlet on the Holodeck. The Free Press, New York (2016)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Vorderer, P., Knobloch, S., Schramm, H.: Does entertainment suffer from interactivity? The impact of watching an interactive TV movie on viewers’ experience of entertainment. Media Psychol. 3, 343–363 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Steinemann, S.T., Mekler, E.D., Opwis, K.: Increasing donating behavior through a game for change. Presented at the 2015 Annual Symposium, New York, USA (2015)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Steinemann, S.T., Iten, G.H., Opwis, K., Forde, S.F., Frasseck, L., Mekler, E.D.: Interactive narratives affecting social change. J. Media Psychol. 29, 54–66 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Parrott, S., Carpentier, F.R.D., Northup, C.T.: A test of interactive narrative as a tool against prejudice. Howard J. Commun. 28, 1–16 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    van’t Riet, J., Meeuwes, A.C., van der Voorden, L., Jansz, J.: Investigating the effects of a persuasive digital game on immersion, identification, and willingness to help. Basic Appl. Soc. Psychol. 40, 180–194 (2018)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bruner, J.S.: The act of discovery. Harv. Educ. Rev. 31, 21–32 (1961)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M., Smith, M.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., Wenderoth, M.P.: Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. PNAS 111, 8410–8415 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jonassen, D.H.: Objectivism versus constructivism: do we need a new philosophical paradigm? Educ. Technol. Res. Dev. 39, 5–14 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Steffe, L.P., Gale, J.E.: Constructivism in Education. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale (1995)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Baldwin, S., Ching, Y.-H.: Interactive storytelling: opportunities for online course design. TechTrends 61, 179–186 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Busselle, R., Bilandzic, H.: Fictionality and perceived realism in experiencing stories: a model of narrative comprehension and engagement. Commun. Theory 18, 255–280 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Graesser, A.C., Olde, B., Klettke, B.: How does the mind construct and represent stories. In: Narrative Impact. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ (2012)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Busselle, R., Bilandzic, H.: Measuring narrative engagement. Media Psychol. 12, 321–347 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Roth, C.: Experiencing interactive storytelling. Ph.D. thesis. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2016).
  21. 21.
    Kirschner, P.A., Sweller, J., Clark, R.E.: Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: an analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educ. Psychol. 41, 75–86 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kirschner, P.A., van Merriënboer, J.J.G.: Do learners really know best? Urban legends in education. Educ. Psychol. 48, 169–183 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sweller, J.: Cognitive load during problem solving: effects on learning. Cogn. Sci. 12, 257–285 (1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Murray, J.H.: Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. MIT Press, Cambridge (2011)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Koenitz, Hartmut: Design approaches for interactive digital narrative. In: Schoenau-Fog, Henrik, Bruni, Luis Emilio, Louchart, Sandy, Baceviciute, Sarune (eds.) ICIDS 2015. LNCS, vol. 9445, pp. 50–57. Springer, Cham (2015). Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rapp, D.N., Gerrig, R.J., Prentice, D.A.: Readers’ trait-based models of characters in narrative comprehension. J. Mem. Lang. 45, 737–750 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renske van Enschot
    • 1
    Email author
  • Iris Boogaard
    • 1
  • Hartmut Koenitz
    • 2
  • Christian Roth
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Communication and Cognition, Tilburg Center for Cognition and CommunicationTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of the Arts UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations