digital_storytelling.jpgCarolyn Miller who literally wrote the book on “Digital Storytelling” is delivering a talk at USC on the origins of this class of lit.

Here’s the info:


12:30 pm, Wed. Feb 18
Cinematic Arts Building (SCA) 112
University of Southern California
Free and open to the public

A talk by Carolyn Handler Miller

Interactive storytelling is an extremely new form of narrative, only made possible by mid-twentieth century digital technology. But are these stories an entirely modern invention, or do they possibly have roots in far earlier forms of storytelling and other human activities? And if they do, is there anything we can learn from these ancient human constructs that can be applied to our own interactive narratives?

Approaching these questions from a writer’s point of view, Carolyn Handler Miller will explore the ancient origins of modern interactive storytelling, including participatory religious dramas; coming of age rituals; games that blend spiritual beliefs and athleticism; and various Judeo-Christian and pagan religious practices. She will mine them for concepts that can be used to strengthen today’s interactive narratives and point out some surprising similarities between prehistoric forms of storytelling and specific contemporary works.

Sponsored by The Institute for Multimedia Literacy, The Writing Program (CLAS), and the Office of Technology Enhanced Learning

Carolyn Handler Miller Bio

Carolyn Handler Miller ( is one of the pioneering writers in the field of interactive media, where she has contributed to over four-dozen projects as a writer, writer-story designer, and consultant. Her work as a digital storyteller includes not only video games, but also interactive webisodes, virtual worlds, interactive TV, intelligent toy systems, electronic kiosks, and transmedia entertainment. In addition, she is the author of “Digital Storytelling: A Creator’s Guide to Interactive Entertainment” (Focal Press), now in its second edition. Carolyn teaches courses in interactive narrative and video game design for the University of New Mexico and continues to work on a variety of interactive projects. In addition, she sits on Governor Bill Richardson’s Council on Film and Media Industries and is a founding member of the Writers Guild of America’s Video Game Writers Caucus. She splits her time between Santa Fe and Los Angeles.

12 Responses to “Carolyn Miller: Digging for the Roots of Interactive Storytelling”

  1. 1 Tank

    Response to

    “Carolyn Miller: Digging for the roots of Interactive Storytelling”

    Do stories change by the way they are presented? From the Greeks to the Dogon’s re-enacting sacred myths, all throughout history human civilizations have told stories in much different mediums. Stories have been passed in forms from ancient rock-art to digital text. Carolyn who is presenting this material from a writers point of view did a brilliant job by surround her discussion around the essence of “a story.” Technology is changing the way stories are told through interactive narrative. However this form can be seen as far back as cavemen telling stories around a camp fire. But what really is a story? Carolyn describes this as “a piece of art that depicts characters caught up in a dramatic event from inception to the conclusion.” Traditional stories did not allow audiences to interact but this medium which seems to be the norm is interactive narrative, a non-linear art form. Carolyn’s lecture did a great job today stressing this thought with the idea that audience and author are now one co-creator of the story. As this new medium of story telling continues to grow the 4th wall that separates audience from character has now dissolved… and the human need to tell stories has developed in and of its own. Despite the fact that humans have told stories in drastically different mediums they all seem to be telling a story… there is a beginning a middle and an end… characters relaying some sort of message to those who partake in the story… and storytelling…something humans are inclined to do… will continue forever!

    tank ;)

  2. 2 Shuffle

    Carolyn Miller presented a very interesting point about the history and transformation of storytelling. Storytelling has taken many different forms since early human civilization. It has taken the form of rock-art to books to games to computers. Today, storytelling has dramatically changed through interactive narrative. Interactive narrative allows the audience to, well, interact with the story instead of just passively taking in the story. It allows the audience to be a part of the story, and in a way, the audience becomes the storyteller as well.

  3. 3 Prince of Persia

    Carolyn’s presentation was fascinating. I never thought about video games as interactive stories before, I only thought of them as games without any real link to more ancient forms of participative rituals. The issues with MMO’s are rather interesting to me because they seem to be very popular and continue to intensify in terms of depth and in the way they immerse the player/audience in another world. I can’t help letting my mind wander and thinking about just how this situation might play out in the future. It’s pretty well known now that these MMO’s are designed to keep players in the game with continuously increasing challenges and objectives. The companies who create these games have financial incentives to make the game as mentally addictive as possible. But, is there a line being crossed? I personally think there is. As the technology advances and as the line between virtual reality and reality blurs (I’m assuming it will), are we going to see some type of regulation imposed on the creators, the amount of time allowed to spend in the game (MMO curfews?), and the age of the people who have access to these games? Will creators continue to design games that increasingly take people out of the real world into their own alternate universe? Will society stand idly by as millions of people exist in a seemingly unproductive parallel world? Will the government set an age limit to people who can purchase the games or are allowed to play them? Will enforceable limits be set to how long someone can immerse themselves in the game world? Or, will everything be left to parents and players to work out amongst themselves? I personally think that most people would be apprehensive about spending so much time in the game world but even now there are a lot of people who spend the majority of their time playing these games. I can see how in ancient times participative rituals were beneficial to a community but presently, I don’t really see how (apart from endless entertainment) these games can be good for society. I can see the value of interactive stories for culture, entertainment, and art, but once profit takes over I get a little pessimistic.

  4. 4 FredFlin

    Professor Miller introduced me to a new world of literature, digital storytelling. When I first heard the name, digital storytelling, I thought those stories would only come from contemporary themes. I was wrong; most of the stories were rooted from the ancient world. For example, Prof. Miller mentioned that many digital stories are based on the timeless themes such as the competition for a desired prize, and obstacles and challenges that face characters.
    I am a fan of the traditional media, but I have to admit that digital storytelling would replace the traditional media in near future. Here’s why: unlike the traditional stories where audience watches characters perform, in digital storytelling (Miller wants to call it interactive storytelling because of confusion the term may create), audience vanishes and becomes a part of the story. Most people want to be a part of a movie or a book they really love. I have to say that interactive storytelling would fulfill that desire.
    I was surprised to find out that Lonelygirl15 on YouTube is a form of digital storytelling. So, I was already exposed to the world of digital storytelling without knowing it. Miller definitely delivered an outstanding lecture on this topic and her lecture reminded me of the old saying, “History repeats itself.”

  5. 5 Mapkwest

    Prior to attending Carolyn Miller’s event on digital storytelling, I was quite clueless as to what kind of discussion would be held during the lecture. I equated digital storytelling to audiobooks on tapes or ipods. When Professor Miller started her lecture she linked digital storytelling to ancient forms of human participation in old age oral histories or cave paintings, I would never have link two and two together, but it all made sense when the main factor of digital storytelling is the readers/audience participation to change the outcome of the ending.

    Thinking back to present terms, I think of the technologies that have come to be that unites people together in one medium- the internet. The internet is a very powerful tool used to connect people from around the world to let everyone particulate in a global dialogue that never cease to end. What really amazed me was the qualifications and expertise Carolyn Miller exuded. She currently consults various game technologies companies, Bill Richardson, and is a prominent around the electronic web organization communities.

    Although I do fear the one day that people can’t tell the difference between reality and virtual reality, I think that having the ability to connect others around the world without have to spend a single dime is a great way to bridge differences and learn about one another. This open source technology allows for establishing equality instead of creating inequalities. There is no need to buy expensive software, and as high speed internet becomes more affordable and reaches communities who aren’t as well off, there can be progress in developing skills to write using technologies that will enhance people’s future.

  6. 6 Preview

    I found Carolyn Miller presentation on Interactive Media very interesting. I enjoyed her point on how digital story telling has basically been around forever and has allowed itself to transform into becoming modern. I feel like I have a new take on different holidays and everyday events that happen in my life since she said that we all become actively involved through out these different experiences. Digital storytelling is reflected in just about everything that we do. This interactive storytelling that allows everyone to participate in the story creates a deeper and closer attachment to the event that is taking place. She stated that it is when we break the fourth wall that we all become virtually connected. For example with games, blogs, social networking sites, and cell phones. This new wave of storytelling is something that those from the past would never have expected, it make me wonder what type of storytelling will be seen in the future.

  7. 7 Mike Chelen

    “Interactive storytelling is an extremely new form of narrative, only made possible by mid-twentieth century digital technology.”
    What about Choose Your Own Adventure books?

  8. 8 forex

    After perusing this post on interactive storytelling by Carolyn i have come to the conclusion that Interactive storytelling and interactive fiction are distinct in that interactive storytelling focuses on drama and dynamic circumstances, where interactive fiction games, traditionally (but not necessarily) focus on puzzle-solving and navigating through pre-conceived circumstances. They are similar, however, in that well-written forms of both are nonlinear.

  9. 9 kurye


  10. 10 Aşk Büyüsü

    After perusing this post on interactive storytelling by Carolyn i have come to the conclusion that Interactive storytelling and interactive fiction are distinct in that interactive storytelling focuses on drama and dynamic circumstances, where interactive fiction games, traditionally (but not necessarily) focus on puzzle-solving and navigating through pre-conceived circumstances. They are similar, however, in that well-written forms of both are nonlinear.

  11. 11 estetik

    Hi great article. I want to publish this article on my own if allowed.

  12. 12 home office furniture

    What an idea, I have to say furniture and its beautiful and amazing.

Leave a Reply

thesis writing service