Stories as Systems: How emerging narrative tools are shaping the future of storytelling

A1 | Tue 22 Jan | 2:20 p.m.–3:05 p.m.

Presented by

  • Mark Rickerby

    Mark Rickerby is a designer, programmer and writer with an interest in the social and ethical foundations of technology and ideas that bring art and science together. Now based in Christchurch, he runs software architecture consultancy Tangram and works on projects and open source tools blending speculative fiction with computational creativity, game design and generative methods. Previously, he worked as a software engineer and product leader in Sydney.


Although storytelling across cultures has reused common structural elements for thousands of years, this extraordinary consistency has defied explanation. There is no unified theory of narrative that can fully explain the rich complexity and affect of the stories we love. To augment and extend our powers of generative storytelling using computers, such a theory—if it existed—would be extremely helpful! Whether our goal is to create experimental dramatic fiction or to develop game systems that dynamically respond and adapt to player input and simulation events, somehow we need to encode knowledge of narrative structures in a form that can be manipulated by our tools and algorithms. In this talk, we’ll take a whirlwind tour through different computational models for representing narrative structure and how they’ve been put into practice in emerging open source tools. Is it possible to create systems that balance the strict causal logic of plots and conflict models with the dreamlike free-association found in fairytales and modernist fiction? To answer this question, we’ll compare and contrast ideas from the cutting-edge of narrative AI research with the creative practices of contemporary novelists who approach story structure in surprising and innovative ways. Linux Australia: YouTube: