Designing Diegetic Elements in Tangible and Bodily Interactive Narratives – Saumya Gupta

Abstract: Digital mediums (desktops, mobile phones) have been widely used to deliver interactive narratives, but they often create a boundary between the reader and the story, as they demand readers (users) to focus on the screen and interface. In response, the tangible, embedded, and embodied interaction field (TEI) encourages instead, the use of tangible objects and bodily interactions as mechanisms to interact with the story, as they can facilitate multi-sensory, emotional, and lived experiences. Diegetic elements, which are things that exist both in the reader’s reality and the fictional world, can be used to include tangible interactions in the interactive narrative. This talk is about two of my interactive narrative pieces that explore the concept of diegesis further. The first piece, Shiva’s Rangoli (SR) is a tangible interactive storytelling installation where the reader takes the protagonist’s role, and impacts his affective state through a diegetic tangible interface that is based on Rangolis. The tangible interface also helps the reader sculpt the diegetic ambience (lights, ambient sound, music, background video) of the space they are in, reflecting the protagonist’s emotional state. The second piece, Gummy’s Way Out (GWO) is a food-based interactive narrative where the reader eats a gummy bear and then helps him find his way out through their body by consuming various diegetic food items and taking different bodily actions. In this system, the reader’s body is placed in a diegetic role. These works show the power of diegetic elements in helping readers feel, impact, and enact in the story.

Bio: Saumya is a designer, maker, and researcher in human-computer interaction. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Informatics department at the University of California, Irvine. Saumya studies how interactions with technology can be embedded in physical objects and the environment around us rather than being limited to screen-based interfaces. Currently, she is working on interactive narratives that leverage tangible and bodily interactions. Her work has been published in TEI, CHI, and DIS. Prior to her Ph.D., Saumya completed her bachelor’s degree in computer science from BITS Pilani Goa. She has interned at Facebook and Esri as a user experience researcher. In her free time, she likes making art, swimming, and watching or reading anything that tells a good story.

Date: 14 August 2021 Time: 8:30 p.m IST

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