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Hands-on talk: Interactive Narrative Club offers game discussions

Each week in the GCC, a passionate conversation spreads about the common thread tying together everything from video and tabletop games to “choose your own adventure” books: interactive storytelling.

On Wednesday, Bradley’s Interactive Narrative Club (INC) met to discuss and analyze their favorite interactive stories, in which different storylines are built by organic user interaction.

Large green writing on an electronic screen revealed the meeting’s central topic: analog or non-digital games, such as board, card and tabletop games.

“Games are a new art form, [and] we don’t really know a lot of the ways we can execute on storylines with games yet,” David Suriano, the president of INC, said. “It’s important to try to understand how they relate to conventional storytelling if we want them to go forward.”

Members talked about both the playing and narrative aspects of the analog games they enjoy. “Betrayal at House on the Hill,” “Contagion” and “Xenolanguage” were among the many games mentioned, with the talk at one point shifting into an exchange of amusing “Dungeons & Dragons” stories.

Members described how and why they enjoyed their games of reference, using rationales ranging from special premises to decision-making freedom. The objective of the club, analyzing effective storytelling and mechanics, became apparent.

Suriano, a junior game design and English double major, has been involved since his freshman year. Regarding interactive storytelling, he is interested in “what makes [good examples] good and what makes [bad examples] bad.”

The members’ enthusiasm as they bounce experiences and ideas off one another makes for a tight-knit atmosphere that’s small but strong.

While Suriano comes with questions, the club’s open-forum style leaves most of the conversation’s flow in the hands of its members. For individuals such as Shane Jackson, a junior interactive media major and one of the meeting’s most vocal contributors, this space to express makes all the difference.

“I want to write for video games,” Jackson said. “Analyzing narratives interested me especially since I hadn’t really found a group of people that enjoyed talking about the same thing as me.”

Suriano recommends joining INC for “people that like to understand how stories work and for people who want to hear how games work.”

Students shouldn’t feel intimidated to join if they’re not a hardcore gamer; Suriano recalled a former member who contributed greatly to discussions whose only gaming experience was “The Sims”.

“You don’t need to have a great store of knowledge,” Suriano said. “You just need to enjoy talking about games.”

Following Thanksgiving break, Interactive Narrative Club meets every Wednesday in GCC 211 at 7:30 p.m.

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