Champlain Offers Interactive Narrative Minor


After years in the making, Champlain students can officially minor in interactive narrative. If you play video games, chances are that you’ve enjoyed one with a compelling narrative—even if you think you don’t care about “story games.” Whether you’re playing Dark Souls or Mario Kart, the choices you make as a player allow you to further experience the game’s world and story, creating more immersion.  

According to Assistant Professor of Game Design Kel Bachus, students started asking for the specialization after taking a narrative class in previous years. Bachus had been in talks with program directors about the subject for a while. Then, last fall, students reached out with a general proposal. 

“We felt there was enough content and certainly more than enough interest,” says Bachus. Amanda Crispel, the Assistant Dean for Game Development, then designed the 15-credit minor, although some courses still need to be hammered out. 

Bachus stresses that while the minor is useful for any student in the game cohort, all students can benefit from it. Interactivity can easily enhance fields such as marketing, education, filmmaking, and more. One example is the existence of narrative elements in flight or medical simulations. The player might need to make an emergency landing, or to perform surgery in order to save a dying child. Even games like Candy Crush have a story—the player’s personal story. In games like Journey, a narrative can be communicated through environment alone. 

As part of the minor, students are required to take two classes on interactive narrative. The first class is designed to be accessible and provide an overview of the topic, while the second dives deeper. Each class, students participate in “talk story,” an exercise where they take turns verbally telling a story while others in the group interact with the world. Essentially, it’s Dungeons and Dragons without all the mechanics and systems. 

In today’s society, the boundaries between games and other forms of media are breaking down, leading to more immersive experiences. As Bachus says, “Interactive narrative covers everything from games, to curating an exhibit, to leading someone through a news piece.”

If you’re interested, speak to your advisor about the interactive narrative minor.

Edit made on October 10, 2019, @ 5:37pm to correct Kel Bachus’ job title.