A Humanistic Approach to Designing and Assessing Interactive-narrative Based Social Interventions



Software, UX & Game Design


  • interactive-narrative, humanistic HCI, audience reception theory, agency, emancipatory design, postcolonialism, UX


Decolonising digital media design education requires an investigation of possible techniques that can be taught to designers as a way of approaching interactive design with an emancipatory agenda. Traditionally, interactive-media studies have been taught from a positivist or psychological stance focusing predominantly on theories of human activity and cognition. In this paper I argue that the humanities offer an additional social and ethnographic lens with which to focus on the socio-historic, political and economic context of interactive media artefacts. At a fundamental level, interactive media offers a specific type of engagement, one that combines many effective aspects of communication such as computational technology, storytelling and theatre, with the mundane world of people’s everyday lived experience, and therefore demands a unique method of interrogation.

Broadly this paper merges the fields of psychology and social theory to build a robust scaffolding upon which interactive-narrative based interventions can be built upon. Interactive-narrative is a useful medium for addressing a more humanistic account of digital technology as it allows the audience an engagement with in ways that offer a high level of agency and activity. Critically, though designing interactive-narrative requires considerations that extend beyond ‘usability’ and ‘utility’ and seek to account for a more rounded interpretation of human experience. To this concern, this paper firstly presents two case studies of existing interactive-narratives that promote social change. Next a range of theories and practices from psychology and sociology related to human activity, embodied cognition and media studies are described and key concerns originating in the theory are articulated resulting in a creation of a set of conceptual tools that embody these concerns. These tools formulate a unique rubric of navigability, identification, co-creation, immersion and transformation, which are then used to reflect upon the case studies.





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