Janet H. Murray

Six Key Design Strategies for Replay Stories

Replay Story: an interactive digital story structure in which the same scenario is offered for replay with significant variations based on parameters that the interactor may control or merely witness in action.

An emerging form of digital storytelling that has been widely prefigured in traditional media is the Replay Story.  Traditional examples of stories that are retold, within the same unisequential book or play, or through multiple books or plays,  can be divided into two main kinds:

Both kinds of replay story are cognitively demanding,  asking us to simultaneously hold in our minds multiple points of view or possible variants of the same events. The digital medium makes it possible to make even more demanding versions by giving the creator procedural strategies for creating variation, and allowing the interactor  to navigate across events or between  points of view in multiple possible sequences, and to intervene in the story as an active character or hand of fate.  It is therefore  useful to look to these traditional examples to see how  story-telling techniques can be used to scaffold  comprehension of complex multi-variant story structures, so that the re-telling is an essential part of the overall experience. Here are six important strategies worth keeping in mind:

I will be refining these categories and offering elaborations and  examples of these strategies in subsequent posts. Comments, examples, counter-examples are welcome.