I am a technician in the interactive media industry. I received a MSc degree in 2006, and a PhD degree in Human Media Interaction in 2010. I am currently working for Ranj Serious Games in Rotterdam.


Curriculum Vitae and Portfolio

My CV (in dutch) can be downloaded here: PDF
Last update:July, 2011

My portfolio can be found here: portfolio .

Ranj Serious Games

I currently work as a senior programmer at Ranj Serious Games. Ranj develops games, not mainly for entertainment purposes, but as a vehicle for a more "serious" goal. Some games are developed to teach something to players, others serve as an instrument of marketing, recruitment & selection or as a means to convey complex information structures that can only be understood by exploration.

Ranj Serious Games homepage

PhD research - writing interactive stories

What makes a computer such a unique medium for storytelling is its ability to compute, offering forms of interaction that go deeper than simple branches and choice points, as with the classic choose-your-own-adventure books. For instance, stories can take the reader in as a participating character, able to influence its course. Interactive stories like that are notably difficult to write, because there are two concerns that seem to be in conflict with each other:
  • The writer wants to offer a certain story to the audience;
  • The audience, being a participating character, has a fundamental influence on what this story is.
My research aimed to add experience to the attempts being undertaken to approach this conflict. I used improvisational theater as a model for interactive storytelling design. To this end, I aimed to develop computer agents that can play the role of story characters, together producing an emerging narrative that is not scripted in advance. I focused on three issues:
  • User participation. Improvisational theatre is aimed at an audience, which is often largely non-participative. If a user is enabled to participate in an improvised story, will this be fun? Will they have to be skilled improvisers too? I conducted an experiment to investigate such questions of agency. This experiment was done within a text chat environment, with the help of real improv actors (rather than virtual ones).
  • Character modelling. Improv actors do something that goes beyond the current practice of building virtual believable story characters: they do not only portray a character and interact with other characters, but also actively help the story forward by gradually framing the story world they inhabit as they go. They decide, in the middle of a performance rather than in advance, that they wear a wedding ring, or that they actually deeply hate their brother-in-law. I developed a computational model that helps virtual characters do the same: they can pretend that certain facts have already always been the case.
  • Content authoring. Building a virtual story world plus characters raises the question what behaviours to put in, what emotional responses to encode, which props and locations to author. From an authoring perspective there is the paradox that writing virtual characters means considering how they will perform in an emerging narrative, so is it then still emergent? I investigated the process of meaning making that is authoring, and how it is different for an emergent narrative design. Authoring shifts from writing events to writing rules that produce these events. I introduced an iterative authoring cycle which I tested out by developing two small story domains.

The Virtual Storyteller

My work took place within the framework of the Virtual Storyteller project , aimed at the automated generation of stories, to which I contributed in my MSc. graduation research.
  • PDF  PhD thesis (more info here)
    "Whose Story Is It Anyway? How Improv Informs Agency and Authorship of Emergent Narrative"

  • PDF  MSc. thesis
    "The Plot Thickens: Bringing Structure and Meaning Into Automated Story Generation".

Publications

To appear

  • Thijs Alofs, MariŽt Theune and Ivo Swartjes. A tabletop interactive storytelling system: designing for social interaction. Accepted for publication in the International Journal of Arts and Technology.

  • MariŽt Theune, Thijs Alofs, Jeroen Linssen and Ivo Swartjes (2013). Having one's cake and eating it too: Coherence of children's emergent narratives. To appear in the Proceedings of the 2013 Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative, Hamburg, Germany, 4Ė6 August 2013.

2012

  • Timen Joppe Muller, Annerieke Heuvelink, Karel van den Bosch, Ivo Swartjes (2012). Glengarry Glen Ross: Using BDI for Sales Game Dialogues. Proceedings of the Eighth Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference (AIIDE '12), 10-12 October 2012, Stanford, Palo Alto, CA, USA. PDF DOI

2011

  • Thijs Alofs, MariŽt Theune and Ivo Swartjes (2011). A Tabletop Board Game Interface for Multi-User Interaction with a Storytelling System. To appear in the Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment (INTETAIN 2011), 25-27 May 2011, Genova, Italy. PDF

2009

  • Ivo Swartjes and MariŽt Theune (2009). Iterative Authoring using Story Generation Feedback: Debugging or Co-creation? Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2009), 9-11 December 2009, Guimar„es, Portugal. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 5915, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pages 62-73. © Springer PDF DOI

  • Ivo Swartjes and MariŽt Theune (2009). Late Commitment: Virtual Story Characters that can Frame their World. Technical Report TR-CTIT-09-18, Centre for Telematics and Information Technology, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands. DOI

  • Ivo Swartjes and MariŽt Theune (2009). An Experiment in Improvised Interactive Drama. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment (INTETAIN 2009), 22-24 June 2009, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering 9, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pages 234-239. © Springer PDF DOI

2008

  • Ivo Swartjes and MariŽt Theune (2008). The Virtual Storyteller: Story Generation by Simulation. Proceedings of the 20th Belgian-Netherlands Conference on Artificial Intelligence (BNAIC 2008), 30-31 October 2008, University of Twente, the Netherlands. PDF

  • Ivo Swartjes, Edze Kruizinga and MariŽt Theune (2008). Let's Pretend I Had a Sword: Late Commitment in Emergent Narrative. Proceedings of the First Joint International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2008), 26-29 November 2008, Erfurt, Germany. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 5334, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pages 264-267. © Springer PDF DOI

  • Sandy Louchart, Ivo Swartjes, Michael Kriegel and Ruth Aylett (2008). Purposeful Authoring for Emergent Narrative. Proceedings of the First Joint International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2008), 26-29 November 2008, Erfurt, Germany. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 5334, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pages 273-284. © Springer PDF DOI

  • Ivo Swartjes, Edze Kruizinga, MariŽt Theune and Dirk Heylen (2008). Emergent Narrative and Late Commitment. Proceedings of the Eight International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA 2008), 1-3 September 2008, Tokyo, Japan. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 5208, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pages 543-544. © Springer PDF DOI

2007

  • Ivo Swartjes and Joost Vromen (2007). Emergent Story Generation: Lessons from Improvisational Theater. Proceedings of the AAAI Fall Symposium on Intelligent Narrative Technologies, 9-11 November 2007, Arlington VA, USA. PDF

  • Ivo Swartjes (2007). Using Narrative Cases to Author Interactive Story Content. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Entertainment Computing (ICEC 2007), 15-17 September 2007, Shanghai, China. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4740, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pages 205-210. © Springer PDF DOI

  • Ivo Swartjes, Joost Vromen and Niels Bloom (2007). Narrative Inspiration: Using Case Based Problem Solving to Support Emergent Story Generation. In proceedings of the International Joint Workshop on Computational Creativity, 17-19 June 2007 Goldsmiths, University of London. PDF

2006

  • Ivo Swartjes and MariŽt Theune (2006). A Fabula Model for Emergent Narrative. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE 2006), 4-6 December 2006, Darmstadt, Germany. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4326, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, pages 49-60. © Springer PDF DOI

Conferences & Courses

Dec 9 - 11, 2009International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS) in Guimar„es, Portugal
Oct 5 - 6, 2009Advanced SIKS course on AI for Games
Sep 14 - 16, 2009Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) conference in Amsterdam
Jun 22 - 24, 2009Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment (INTETAIN) conference in Amsterdam
Jan 26 - 30, 2009HTI Spring School in Almen
Nov 26 - 29, 2008International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS) in Erfurt, Germany
Oct 30 - 31, 2008Belgian-Netherlands Artificial Intelligence Conference (BNAIC) in Boekelo
May 19 - 22, 2008SIKS course on Interactive Systems & Combinatory Methods in Best
Dec 10 - 11, 2007SIKS course on Agent Technology in Vught
Nov 9 - 11, 2007AAAI Fall Symposium on Narrative Intelligent Technologies in Arlington, VA, USA
Sep 15 - 17, 2007International Conference on Entertainment Computing (ICEC) in Shanghai, China
Jun 17 - 19, 2007International Joint Workshop on Computational Creativity (IJWCC) in London, UK
May 21 - 25, 2007SIKS course on Learning and Reasoning and Information Retrieval in Vught
Dec 2 - 6, 2006Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE) conference in Darmstadt, Germany
Nov 20 - 22, 2006SIKS course on Research Methods and Methodologies in Lunteren. See the pictures here.
May 31 - June 2, 2006SIKS course on Knowledge Modeling in Vught
July 17 - 21, 2006EASSS summer school in Annecy, France. See the pictures here