Narrative Urgency: Motivating Action in Interactive Digital Media

Bjørn Anker Gjøl, Niels Valentin Jørgensen, Luis Emilio Bruni

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


In this paper, we address specific problems related to the temporal development of narratives in games and interactive media in general. Game narratives can be inconsequential when they progress isolated from coherent temporal aspects, which in turn affects the possibility for pacing and experiencing a dramatic arc. The problem arises when the agency afforded to the players leads them to pursue non-narrative activities, which “put the story on hold”.
We introduce the concept of narrative urgency in interactive narratives as a means of discussing and avoiding this issue. While ‘agency’ is the potential to act in interactive narratives, ‘urgency’ would be the desire to do so in the narrative context. This may serve as a starting point for designers to explore how players can be motivated to take actions that enable optimal narrative coherency and enhance suspension of disbelief.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInteractive Storytelling : 12th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2019, Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT, USA, November 19–22, 2019, Proceedings
EditorsRogelio E. Cardona-Rivera, Anne Sullivan, R. Michael Young
Number of pages5
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-33893-0
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-33894-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event12th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling - Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT, United States
Duration: 19 Nov 201922 Nov 2019


Conference12th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling
LocationLittle Cottonwood Canyon, UT
CountryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesLecture Notes in Computer Science


  • Interactive digital narratives
  • Narrative-driven games
  • Storytelling
  • Narrative time
  • Time frames
  • Temporality
  • Urgency
  • Agency

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