Toward the Design of Interactive Storytelling Games That Teach Computational Thinking
Miller, Eric Shadrach
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Interactive storytelling games are an emerging genre that requires greater research, especially when they are made to teach subjects like computational thinking. The most promising avenue for development using neural networks will require an understanding of designing procedures at a level that few writers or game designers could train for. The most likely software architecture for new interactive storytelling games are neural networks and these are not explainable in the same manner that traditional sequential logic-based programs. This leads to challenges in design for educational games and makes informal learning the first likely area for creating them. This dissertation proposes that to deal with these challenges game design research needs to incorporate new methodologies that utilize science fiction for speculative design. This dissertation starts with a survey of relevant scholars and voices in the fields of interactive storytelling, game studies, play studies, computational thinking, and science fiction criticism. To ground the discussion, the next chapter proposes an operational definition of interactive storytelling games as well as making the argument that these experiences are games. In the next chapter, the dissertation makes the case that emerging interactive storytelling games are uniquely positioned now to teach computational thinking and that using them for this purpose could help refine the creation of the games themselves. In Chapter 4 the dissertation explores core features of interactive storytelling games concerning their affordances to teach computational thinking. Chapter 5 analyzes examples of interactive storytelling games that teach computational thinking and tests the capabilities of sequential logic-based architectures versus pattern-based architectures, i.e., neural network-based architectures, in this case, to adapt to this purpose. Finally, Chapter 6 makes the case for game designers and game design researchers to begin formally including science-fiction based methodologies to design for player experiences that could span more than a decade, have a great deal of player experience variety due to their openended nature, and that may have enlarged influence on the identity formation of the player. The time to make interactive storytelling games that teach computational thinking is now and unlike many other genres, research using science fiction based methodologies is key for the success and viability of these games and the lessons they seek to impart.