Albert Goes Narrative Contracting


  • Ken Newman
  • Robert Grigg


role-playing games, fun, online communication


RPG’s (Role Playing Games) and improvisational theatre have some obvious similarities. Both require the participants to work together in real-time to construct dynamic narrative elements. Seeing communication in terms of ongoing narrative contracts is a well-accepted principle of improvisational theatre (Johnstone 1981). The recipient of an offered narrative element can accept the offer, block it, or make a counter-offer. This paper describes a methodology for studying subjects engaging in a controlled online role-playing ‘encounter’. The encounter is titled ‘Albert in Africa’ and the study draws on the previously described Fun Unification Model (Newman 2004). In this study, subjects’ individual responses were correlated with the number of acceptances, blocks and counter-offers they make during their encounter. Comparisons are then made with observations of the massively multiplayer game World of WarCraft. From this emerges a methodology for analyzing the complex interactions of RPG encounters.





@Conference{digra11, title ="Albert Goes Narrative Contracting", year = "2002", author = "Newman, Ken and Grigg, Robert", publisher = "DiGRA", address = "Tampere", howpublished = "\url{}", booktitle = "Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings"}