The following glossary was developed by students from the Spring 2010 course of Writing for Interactive Media offered at Emerson College.

Adventure Maze – a game that focuses on survival through classic fairy-tale narratives and cognitive problem solving.

Agency – 1) The thrill of exerting power over enticing and plastic materials; 2) to script the interactor as well as the world, so that we know how to engage the world, and so that we build up the appropriate expectations.

Contest: the meeting of opponents in pursuit of mutually exclusive aims.

Cyberdrama: the enactment of the story in the particular fictional space of the computer.

Endogenous - caused by factors inside the organism or system. In the context of games, it refers to the way in which a game's structure creates its own meanings. For example, the value of Monopoly money is only recognized when in a game of Monopoly. In the real world, the paper holds no value.

Environmental Storytelling - The method by which spatial stories are told: a physical space is used to tell a story. There are four methods by which environment storytelling enables an immersive narrative experience: by evoking pre-existing associations; by setting the stage for narrative events; by incorporating narrative information into the mise-en-scene; and by providing material for emergent narratives.

Fourth Wall -

Game - an interactive structure of endogenous meaning that requires players to struggle toward a goal.

Game Balance - has both multiplayer and single player meanings. In a multiplayer game, it means that the players need to feel that they're on a level, that no one has an unfair advantage; in a single player game, it means that the player has a reasonable shot at winning, and the better he's mastered the game, the better chance he has of winning.

Gameplay - an often used term with very little real meaning. It represents the combined aspects attributed to games, e.g. level of interaction, presence of goals, etc.

Game-Story: the story rich new gaming formats that a proliferating in digital formats.

Hypertext Narrative – often unheroic and solutionless, this is a labrynth form derived from poststructuralist literary theory, and is known for being full of wordplay and indeterminate events.

Illusory Space -

Immersion - a passive subjection to the authority of the world-designer; a prolonged engagement with and empathy towards a created environment caused by an abundance of information.

Interactive Entertainment - Games. Any form of “interactive entertainment” that isn’t a game must be non-interactive; or not entertainment; or pointless.

Interactivity - the perceived ability of the user to modify the environment of the world-designer.

Liminal (liminality, liminal space) - From the Latin word līmen, which means threshold. The word was first applied in anthropology by theorist Victor Turner to define a place of existence that is neither here nor there; a space between places. Rites of passage are often cited as being liminal, or transitional. During that ritual or ceremony, the subject is neither child, or adult, there something in between. Virtual environments are now described as being liminal, or at least having liminal qualities.

Micronarratives - Similar to what Sergei Eisenstein called "attractions," memorable moments or elements that intensify a story's emotional impact.

Navigation – a form of agency not dependent on game structure, but characteristic of exploring digital environments.

Orienteering – a sport where players follow a series of geographical clues across a large and complex terrain.

Participatory Narrative

Procedural Rhetoric - The practice of using processes persuasively.

Puzzle - 1) present the player with a logic structure to be solved, sometimes with the assistance of clues. Puzzles are static, in contrast to "games," which are not static, but change with the player's actions. 2) a contest between the reader/player and the author/game designer.

Rhizome – a tuber root system in which any point may be connected to any other point.

Simulation - a production of a different sequence of events every time the system is used.

Spatial Story - A story that gives greater importance to spatial exploration than to plot development. The goals and conflicts are broadly defined, and the story is driven by the character's movement through the imaginary world.

Spectacle -

Telepresence - A virtual reality is defined as a real or simulated environment in which the perceiver experiences telepresence" (Steuer 76). Telepresence relates to presence as virtual reality relates to reality (from Ryan page 120)

Violence-hub Stories – combines a clear sense of story structure with a multiplicity of meaningful plots.

Virtual Reality - an expansion of physical and sensory powers through a digital interface transcending the boundaries of human perception. The "virtual reality effect" is the denial of the role of signs (bits, pixels, and binary codes) in the production of what the user experiencesasunmediated presence. “projective construction,” which projects aspects of the reader’s life and identity onto the text

Ractive: an contraction of interactive.

Ractors - professional interactive actors who operate avatar characters over a vast medianet, through sensors implanted in their faces and bodies.

LARP (Live Action Role Playing) - games that offer coherent stories, where players are visible to one another, and relay on explicit mechanisms of participation to sustain the illusion of a fictional world (Murray, pg 116), in essence, guiding individual players without rigidly prescribing their actions. The game masters give the player(s) character profiles, background and game goals prior to play, to suggest to the players how to act and proceed.

A-ha! Moment - a feeling of epiphany when experiencing a narrative.

Democratize - introduction of a democratic system to the narrative process, such as the inclusion of user-added content in MUDs and MOOs or the concept of Multiple authorship.

Intertextuality - Referencing between two text of narrative.

MUDs (Multi-User Domain / Dungeon) - multi-user real time virtual world described entirely in text. A digital space that offers its users goal oriented tasks, a social space, and sometimes the ability to generate and share content. The basis for later interactive forms of interactive games such as MOOs, MMOs, MMORPGs, and MUCKs.

FMV is short for Full Motion Video. When video games harnessed the massive storage potential of CD-ROMs,video clips of actors appeared to interrupt the interactive play of a game with filmed bits of narrative. In one famous early example of FMV Star Wars veteran Mark Hamill performed on-screen in Wing Commander l l l(r994). These types of play interruptions are generally refered to as cut scenes; today rendered computer graphics have largely supplanted FMV in cut scenes.

MMORPC is short for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing game, typi f ied by Ul t ima Onl ine, EverQuesat nd Asheron'sC al l .T he f i rst wave of these games emerged between r997 and r999, anchoring hundreds ofthousands of role-playersto their computers for hours a week, f ight ingt o ki l l monsters,w in loot and build relationships with other gamers.

Contest Story: The most common type of interactive story / game. The user finds themselves in the role of a hero, and must triumph against their environment (Pac-man) another player (Mortal Kombat) or the game designer (Zork!) There is usually an inverse relationship with the complexity of narrative vs. the complexity of character agency in these games.

Constructivism: A cognitive schema that places value in the knowledge & discovery gained from experiences in the world. In the context of interactive media, constructivism is the driving force of immersive virtual environments that allow users to generate and share in game content.

LARP: Live-Action-Role-Playing. A 'real-world' fantastical interactive mediated experience. Players, guided by a Game Master, imagine themselves in a fantasy environment which they experience through the GM's spoken narrative, and move through with their own bodies.

Game Master: A designated overseer / storyteller in a LARP. The GM is responsible for augmenting other player's experiences through descriptions and narrative events. Janet H. Murray emphasizes that a
good GM can give players a great degree of agency while simultaneously maintaining a coherent narrative.

Procedural Authorship: A 'hands-off' approach to narrative. The author creates the rules of the story, and the conditions for player interaction, but allows the player to create their own experience with it.

The Interactor: The User or participant in an interactive media piece. This is a convenient term because it emphasizes the agency of the participant, instead of referring to them as "audience" or even more restrictively as a 'viewer'.