Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice

An art exhibit of agar plates cultured with bioluminescent bacteria.

Hundreds of agar plates cultured with bioluminescent marine bacteria displayed at Bioglyphs, an art exhibit at Montana State University-Bozeman. (Image ©2002 MSU-Bozeman Bioglyphs Project. Used with permission.)


MIT Course Number

21W.765J / 21L.489J / CMS.845J

As Taught In

Spring 2006


Undergraduate / Graduate

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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course covers techniques of creating narratives that take advantage of the flexibility of form offered by the computer. The course studies the structural properties of book-based narratives that experiment with digression, multiple points of view, disruptions of time and of storyline. The class analyzes the structure and evaluates the literary qualities of computer-based narratives including hypertexts, adventure games, and classic artificial intelligence programs like Eliza. With this base, students use authoring systems to model a variety of narrative techniques and to create their own fictions. Knowledge of programming is helpful but not necessary.

Related Content

Beth Coleman. 21W.765J Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice. Spring 2006. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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