Interactive storytelling

The creator and author of two critically-acclaimed and best-selling video games, Bioshock and Bioshock: Infinite, will visit Wheaton College to talk about the art of interactive storytelling on Wednesday, September 21.

Writer and game developer Ken Levine will talk about the art of creating realistic and involving stories for video games, where the “reader” or player exerts control over the narrative.

Interactive Storytelling: A Conversation with Ken Levine will begin at 7 p.m. in Hindle Auditorium, Science Center. Assistant Professor of Filmmaking Patrick Johnson will serve as the moderator for the event, which is free and open to the public. (Levine’s visit is made possible by the Caroline C. Edwards ’70 Master Class in the Visual and Musical Arts Endowed Fund within the Evelyn Danzig Haas ’39 Visiting Artists Program.)

The conversation will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the art and craft of the emerging field of interactive storytelling.

“As a filmmaker, one always hopes your audience is fully engaged and immersed in the story you’re telling,” Johnson said. “Interactive storytelling is an intriguing approach, as it provides agency to the audience to determine the narrative direction of story. In the current digital landscape, there are many different forms of interactive storytelling.

“Video games is a medium in which interactive storytelling is a fundamental part of the experience,” said Johnson. “As the future of film and television is in constant flux, it is critical for Wheaton students to have some understanding of the basics of interactive storytelling in the context of videogames.”

Critics rate Bioshock (2007) as being among the most finely crafted combinations of story and game, featuring compelling storytelling as well as memorable imagery and sound. The game, which plays on multiple gaming platforms, has won numerous awards, and it was included in a 2011 Smithsonian exhibition about the emerging video game medium. The 2013 follow-up, Bioshock: Infinite (2013), has also been highly praised.

An alumnus of Vassar College, Levine initially pursued a career in film, writing several screenplays, before entering the videogame business as a game designer with a Cambridge, MA-based firm. Today, he is the creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games, in Westwood, MA.

— Alexandra Dardati ’18