Eliciting Behavior From Interactive Narratives: Isolating the Role of Agency in Connecting With and Modeling Characters

Citation data:

Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, ISSN: 1550-6878, Vol: 59, Issue: 1, Page: 76-93

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https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/ccom_papers/148; https://works.bepress.com/ryan-rogers/7
Francesca R. Dillman Carpentier; Ryan P. Rogers; Lisa Barnard
Informa UK Limited
Social Sciences; interactive storytelling; online narratives; user-character connection; Communication; Communication Technology and New Media
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article description
A key component differentiating interactive storytelling from non-interactive media is agency, or control over character choices. A series of experiments show that providing agency over a character increased the user-character connection, which then increased engagement in a character-consistent charitable act. Findings were observed in technologically simple online narratives that controlled for navigation/controller differences, graphics, sounds, lengthy play, and avatar customization. Effects emerged even though users did not practice these acts by making their character behave charitably. Findings were robust across happy and unfortunate endings and across first-, second-, and third-person narrative perspectives. Findings suggest promise for developing inexpensive “storygames” to encourage supportive behaviors.