Interactive Storytelling’s Time Has Come

When I began this long quest more than 20 years ago, the phrase “interactive storytelling” was not in use. Here’s a Google NGram showing the rise of the three most commonly used terms:

I note with pleasure that “interactive storytelling”, the term that I have always championed (because storytelling is a process and story is data, and you cannot interact with data), appears to have established itself as the primary term. I did Google searches for the three phrases and got the following results:

Interactive storytelling: 679,000 hits
Interactive story: 488,000 hits
Interactive narrative: 148,000 hits

This affords me the small pleasure of having won the terminology war. Huzzah…

There are many other indicators. The New York Times just published a big article about interactive storytelling. Sadly, it reflects all the standard misconceptions we see in the games industry. It considers only what I call the “thaumatropic story/game”. Nevertheless, the fact that people are starting to pay more attention to the concept is good. Here’s a graph showing the incidence of the term “story” versus “storytelling”:


As you can see, the difference between process and data is slowly sinking into their thinking.

The process has been much slower than I had anticipated; it would seem that people are dumber than I had thought. The important thing, though, is that they ARE learning.