C. S. Pinhanez, J. W. Davis, S. S. Intille, M. Johnson,
A. Wilson, A. F. Bobick, and B. Blumberg, "Physically Interactive
Story Environments," IBM Systems Journal, vol. 39, pp.
Most interactive stories, such as hypertext
narratives and interactive movies, achieve an interactive feel by allowing the user to
choose between multiple story paths. This paper argues that in the case of real
environments where the users physically interact with a narrative structure, we can
substitute the choice mechanisms by creating situations that encourage and permit the user
to actively engage his body in movement, provided that the story characters are highly
reactive to the users activity in small, local windows of the story. In particular,
we found that compelling interactive narrative story systems can be perceived as highly
responsive, engaging, and interactive even when the overall story has a single-path
structure, in what we call a "less choice, more responsiveness" approach to the
design of story-based interactive environments. We have also observed that unencumbering,
rich sensor technology can facilitate local immersion as the story progresses users
can act as they typically would without worrying about manipulating a computer interface.
To support these arguments, the paper describes the physical structure, the interactive
story, the technology, and the user experience of four projects developed at the MIT Media
Laboratory: "The KidsRoom" (1996), "It / I" (1997),
"Personal Aerobics Trainer" (1998), and "Swamped"
Physical interactive environments, interactive stories, virtual reality, immersion,