The Garden of Forking Paths: Exploring the Interactive Story (ARTS-UG 1642)

In Jorge Luis Borges’s 1941 short story, The Garden of Forking Paths, a character named Ts’ Ui Pen seeks to build a labyrinth in which all men will lose their way. Borges reveals that labyrinth to be a sprawling book in which all moments in time are followed by every possible subsequent moment. Multiple futures and timelines exist as one in this garden of forking paths. Fast forward to today, where we find that Ts’ Ui Pen’s seemingly incomprehensible vision has come to fruition via video games and interactive fiction. Both often eschew linearity and instead offer users the opportunity to drive the story and shape their own narrative experience. In this course, we will first explore the trajectory of interactive fiction, from its early overtures in works by Borges and Italo Calvino, forward through Agusto Boal’s Forum Theatre, early computer text adventures, Choose Your Own Adventure books, non-linear film, and into the various digital interactive fictions of today, such as hypertext literature, adventure games, and visual novels. From there, students will embark on their own adventure through interactive creative writing. The journey will begin with students taking apart and diagraming existing interactive works, and using digital tools to craft and share their own short interactive scenes and dialogs. We will confront the challenges and limitations of writing interactive story and establish some key critical theories governing non-linearity. The course will culminate in students designing and writing a complete short work of interactive fiction in a medium of their choice.

Arts Workshops (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)

ARTS-UG 1642-000 (12470)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Tue
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Evening)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Bishop, Barton