What is Interactive Storytelling?

What is Interactive Storytelling?

Disambiguation: no more confusion about what interactive storytelling is!

  • Disambiguation: no more confusion about what interactive storytelling is!

Interactive Storytelling represents a fusion of traditional storytelling and the interactivity to which the technology around us has accustomed us in recent decades. Instead of passively following a linear storyline, interactive storytelling allows us to become an active part of the story, influencing events and characters’ fates through our choices. This type of storytelling can be applied and researched in various media and formats, from video games to virtual reality experiences, from mobile applications to interactive streaming platforms.

When your every decision opens new narrative routes, you are the author of a unique and personalized experience. This is the power of Interactive Storytelling: transforming the reader or viewer into a participant, resulting in unprecedented emotional engagement.

In this article, we will explore the world of Interactive Storytelling in its possible interpretations. Consider this a disambiguation page!


Originating primarily in the context of nonlinear fiction, which allows the reader to take different paths within the story, interactive literature introduces multiple endings from the beginning to amplify the dramatic impact of the moral decisions present. Indeed, readers can direct plot development through specific choices embedded in the text, determining which narrative direction to follow.

An example of Interactive Literature

Gianni Rodari’s Tante Storie per giocare is one example. Originating for the radio program of the same name in 1969-1970 and later published in the “Corriere dei Piccoli,” this collection of stories characterised the author’s production by its innovativeness. Each story has three endings, which readers can freely choose to have the unfolding concluded. Through this structure, the author had identified the possibility for the reader to read, reflect and find an ending to their taste.


The idea of language as a combinatorial mechanism capable of generating an infinity of words and texts is not new. As early as the late 18th century, German linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) argued that a language “makes infinite use of finite means”. Language itself, then, can be seen as a combinatorial play of the phonemes that make it up. In literature, the concept of combinatoriality is intimately linked to the structure of the work: not surprisingly, in every form of artistic expression (literature, visual arts, cinema, theatre, music, etc.), the structure of a work, that is, the way its various parts are organised, is fundamental to its expressive effectiveness.

Some examples of Combinatory Literature

The I Ching or Book of Changes is a very ancient classic of Chinese culture (dating from the 10th century B.C.) and among the earliest surviving examples of combinatorial literature. It is a kind of oracle to which questions can be addressed. Divination is done by tossing three coins or by dividing yarrow stems which correspond to the arrangement of symbols within it, 64 hexagrams. The response regarding the resulting lines is to be interpreted according to the question asked, to provide a clear and consistent answer.

We can also mention Raymond Queneau and his Cent mille milliards de poèmes: an interactive book of combinatorial poetry published in 1961. Queneau’s work, physically constructed by Robert Massin, offers the reader a tool for mechanically composing poems according to the sonnet form: two quatrains followed by two triplets, fourteen lines in total. The book consists of ten sheets, each divided into fourteen horizontal bands, printed on both sides. By turning the horizontal bands like pages, the readers can choose one out of ten versions of the poem offered by Queneau. All ten versions have the same metrical scansion and rhymes; each sonnet is regular in its form. We thus have 10^14 (100 000 000 000) potential poems.


This is the literature developed, analysed, theorised and practised by the OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle – Workshop of Potential Literature), founded in 1960 by François Le Lionnais and Raymond Queneau within the College of Pataphysics in Paris. The OuLiPo is a group of researchers committed to creating literary inventions based on formal mathematical rules, such as lipograms, in which certain letters are forbidden in the text. The term “potential” reflects its elusive and still-emerging nature, which manifests through new linguistic procedures.


This is a work of fiction that instead of being read linearly from beginning to end, offers the reader the opportunity to actively participate in the story by deciding among several possible alternatives through numbered paragraphs or pages. Different readers (or the same person on a reread) may make different choices, and this will affect the unfolding and ending of the plot. In some gamebooks, there is also the random element, with plot nodes that can be resolved by a roll of dice, or by the use of additional objects.

An example of GameBook

The first example of this novelty appeared in 1930 with Consider the Consequences, written by authors Doris Webster and Mary Alden Hopkins, who explored the forked-loop structure in which the responsibility for choices fell to the reader. Playbooks generally are written in the second person, with the reader assuming the role of a character, in a mechanism similar to that of role-playing games.

Our SEPHIROT® hyperdramaturgy writing system fits right in with contemporary research in the field of interactive storytelling applied to live performance… And not only! Discover all the declinations of our system: team building simulations, edutainment for museums and cultural institutions, and interactive performances!

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

Alessandro Anglani

Alessandro anglani CEO CHRONES. About us

Born with videogames, raised with acting and matured with computer science, he has found his raison d’être in game design. He has worked for more than 10 years as a programmer, web designer, social media manager, producer, researcher, professional performer, author, director. For the near future, he dreams of SEPHIROT® cyberspace à la Ready Player One: living narratives with other people, sharing emotions and memories that then remain etched in everyone’s mind.

Carla Andolina

Carla Andolina CHRONES. COO About us
25 May 2024

From Lord of the Rings to Evangelion and Ace Attorney, she’s learned that the right team makes all the difference! Creating magical experiences and lasting networks is her mission: bringing together talents from unexpected fields to make 1+1 equal 3! From acting she moved to contemporary dance and social media management: there is no right way to say things, only the most useful! For more than 3 years she’s been SEPHIROT®’s trooper and now she organizes CHRONES.’s forefront expeditions! Allons-y!

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What is Interactive Storytelling?

Disambiguation: no more confusion about what interactive storytelling is!

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CHRONES. SRL innovative start-up. Via Mons. Santeramo, 23, 76121 Barletta. P.IVA/C.F. 08822590728 REA BA 652634. Share capital: € 10.000,00 | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy