Posts Tagged ‘story telling’

About The Story of Your Life

Friday, January 18th, 2008

The term “story” originates from the word “historein” or “histor” meaning “to inquire” and “wise man, judge”. It is also related to the term “seeing”. A story was meant to give insight.

To create a insightfull story a special framework was used that was based on a cyclic-model. Creating a story was an art and story-tellers (bards) were highly professional people travelling around the country. Storytellers triggered the imagination of their audience.

There is another way of Storytelling. It is based on the Conduit Metaphor. In this case a story is something that is exchanged between people. It is a recall of a situation or chain of situations out of memory.

Stories of this kind can be used to give insight when we use the theories of Roger Schank. Roger Schank researched human memory.

He realized thet people learn when their expectation is violated. At that moment they are very open to the advice of an (older?) expert that made the same mistake and found another solution. Stories of experienced people can be used to teach not experienced people.

When people tell a story out of their memory they use a framework. They select and chain the situations in a certain way. When you analyze life-stories this framework becomes very visible.

The framework behind the stories can be related to the theory of Michael Bahktin. Bahktin showed that there are five basic story-frameworks (tragedy, romance, myth,..). When you use the tragic framework you act like a victim. In the mythical framework people play the roles of   kings, heros, magicians, fayries or other mythical beings. Jung calls these mythical beings archetypes

Goffman showed that people play a role in a play. Most of the people don’t know they are playd by the play. They are pawns. Behind every play there is a new play (a meta-play). Somewhere somebody or something is guiding or directing us in our lifes. Some people call this directing principle karma. It is very helpfull to know your karma. If you resolve this puzzle you are free to play the play to want to play. You have left the Matrix.

What can you do?

When you want to use story-telling as a tool to educate please understand that some people are telling the same story again and again. They are pawns and not experts. Experts are hard to find.

When you want to plan interviews the 80/20-rule is applicable. 80% of the stories you collect are about failures and not about solutions or new inventions. 

When you want to apply storytelling remember that all the stories that have to be told are already available. They are available in myths and literature. Use one of the many old stories and bring them to our time. 

Personal stories are a variant of old stories. The most interesting persons to look for are the Mythics or the Heroes. Joseph Campbell has collected and analyzed the meta-myths.

If you are looking at your own life-story try to find the play or myth you are playing. Try to find out if you are pawn in a play and determine who is your director.

Find out who or what is calling you to go on a Quest. Don’t resist the calling. In the Quest you will learn a lot about your self. In the end you will find the Grale or another tool humankind is waiting for.

Please remember that Heroes are never awarded. Others will take over your invention and claim succes. Don’t bother about that. They are still played by the game of competition. Once in their life (perhaps 1 minute before they die) the will know their own calling.

Leave the play and create your own play. Live a unique life-story and inspire others to do the same. Use the toolmaker methaphor.Explore and create new tools. Share your inventions with others.

How to become Very Rich by Implementing Story Based Games (Part 4, Story Based Games)

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

A few years ago I met the most important game-designer in the world. He is the inventor of many board-games but also of very successful television-games. His games were sold all over the world. At that time he was just hired by one of the most important entertainment-firms in the word to become their Chief Creative Officer (CCO).

We started to talk and I found out that I could do what he could do. I was generating new game-concepts with ease. When I generated these concepts his comments were very clear.

This is not possible because of the state of the IT-technology“.

What I found out first surprised me but later I found the reason. The entertainment-industry was way behind the banking industry. This is normal. Every segment in the Industry goes trough a cycle of maturity and has no idea what is happening in another segment.

I wan’t say they are re-inventing the wheel because the Entertainment-Industry has been very innovative in the area of the User-Interface (The front-end). Banks were unable to do that because their front-end was a branche-office.

Because I understood what the CCO wanted to do I was able to make a connection between two independent areas.

The other thing that surprised me was his focus on the TV. I explained him how easy it was to use a PC as a TV. I also explained him that a combination of many User-interfaces (PC, TV, and GSM) could create completely new concepts. Concepts are named Formats in the Entertainment Industry.

After some time he asked me to arrange a demo. I went to TNO. I have been working as an advisor for TNO for many years. TNO is a huge government-paid research organization. They experiment with every thing you can imagine. They were abl to demo all the upcoming innovations and he was very surprised.

I wrote a document about “what was possible” in his language. I used Cordys as an infrastructure and defined many new technical concepts like the Worldwide Media Hub, a Format Engine, a Monitor (Generating Feedback) and a model of the Emotions that could be used to stimulate Impulsive Buying Behavior (based on Frijda). I also defined a Scenario-generator based on the collected Stories. This generator could generate a completely new type of Soap.

The CCO became very interested and wanted to start a business outside his own Company. The company he was working for was not interested. He was allowed to do this (The so called Right of First Refusal). We made a complete business-plan and started to look for people that wanted to finance our business. The amount of profit we could generate was tremendous.

To my surprise nobody was interested. Our plan was too advanced. People in the Investment Business had no idea about the combination of Banking Technology and Entertainment Technology. Their idea about the World was based on the concept of the Website.They were also very hesitant because they lost a lot of money in the E-Commerce Hype.

Now almost 3 years later big worldwide media companies are finally interested and it looks like we are going into business. So if you want to make a lot of money this is your chance to jump on the bandwagon.

This is the last blog about Story Based Games.

Want to read the others?

How to build Story Based Games

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

When you want to Play a Game with Many people you need a special infrastructure that is highly scalable. When we build the Game we used Mosaic and Cordys. This a document I wrote about Cordys.

Cordys is highly related to Mosaic. An important part of Cordys was based on the Mosaic Infrastructure. Cordys bought Mosaic from Interpay. Interpay is owned by the Dutch Banks. Interpay uses Mosaic to process an enormous amount of payments. Mosaic is able to process these payments without any problem. It never fails (non-stop) and it scales linear. This means that the limits of the amount of transactions it can process are unlimited.

Mosaic uses a cluster of PC’s. When you want to increase the amount of transactions you just add a PC. When a PC fails another PC takes over without any problem. Cordys and Mosaic are based on a software design pattern, the Software Bus or the Publish/Subscribe-Architecture. Design Patterns are a spinn-off of the Book “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander.

Software and hardware are connected by a Dialogue. When a software/hardware-component is available it tells the System it is available. When another software/hardware-component wants to connect to a component it just asks the system to connect and the Bus makes the connection Just-in-time.

Multi User Games fail because the performance of the game is going down when many many (Millions) users use the game at the same time. The System we build was able to support an unlimited amount of users without any degradation in performance.

To build a game you need more than the solid foundation of a Technical Infrastructure.

 The first thing to do is to interview many people using a very special technique. When an Interview is finished you have to analyze the Life-Story. A Life-Story contains many Situations.

 Every situation is coded (Place, Actors, Event, Action, Life Line, Person …) and stored in a Database. The Situation is connected to a text or (better) to a small Video that describes or shows the Situation. It is Fun when Users are able to upload a Funny Video about a Situation. The software we used supported this. It was even possible to connect many video’s to one situation. You could award a price for the best video. To do this you need a Voting System. This was also available.

A “normal” interview contains about 40-50 situations. When you have interviewed many people the amount of connections rises exponentially. The next step is to give users the opportunity to add their own Life-Story. This will speed up the amount of connections.

When you want to move from one Situation to another Situation You have to make a Choice. The Choice tells a lot about the way you Evaluate and the way you evaluate tells something about you. Every choice you make adds data to your Dynamic Profile  and your Dynamic Profile tells a lot about your personality. It gives the System a possibility to find comparable users  and their Life-lines.

When you are a Failure (A Social) it can easily find a person that was successful and connect you to this person (Chat, Email, ..) or show you a successful Life-Line.

It is also possible to generate completely new (non-existent) Life-Lines (Scenario’s). You can also move back in a Life-Line and find a situation that you recognize or you can jump from one life-line to another (What happened at School or in the Office).

When we had finished the technical infrastructure we used the interviews of all the prior projects, analyzed them, put them in the database and started to Play. We became very exited.

What we found out is that we could define a higher level A Game by giving the users an Assigment (Find out How to get in trouble when you are at School or At Work). We could also easily recreate many well-know games by moving through the scenario-framework with a special protocol. We could even generate scenario’s for a new movie.

About Life Stories

Monday, October 1st, 2007

When you want to build a Story-Based-Game the best way to interview is to ask people about their Life-story. Let us first have a look at the The Foley Center.  The Foley Center of Northwestern University is specialized in Life Stories.

Dan P. McAdams of the Foley Center uses Agency and Communion as the major “modalities in the existence of living forms“. These two modalities may be viewed as two thematic clusterings in life narratives, each articulating important life goals, strivings, needs, and desires”.  When I read the articles of McAdams it was not difficult to see that he was using Interpersonal Theory .

Because I was able to map Interpersonal Theory to The Theory of Will McWhinney . I was able to to open up a huge potential to litterally Play with Life Stories. Will has also mapped his World Views to Games Levels.

When you consider a Life Story as a Narrative a mapping to the Theory of Bakhtin about Chronotopes is also very helpful.

When you use the concept of the Chronotope you will see that a life-story takes Place in a named Time/Place-continuum (A House, The Office,). So not only ask When an Event took place but also Where it took place. A place is are very important factor in a life story. Many people remember the atmosphere of a Place. The House I was born felt Warm and Cosey. In my office I felt Alone.

When we had a look at the thoughts of Bahktin about Context we realized that we were really trying to describe a Situation and that other Actors in the Situation also plaid an important Role (Father, Mother, Manager, …..). So not only ask Where and When but also Who was playing an important Role.

Many people are unable to make a distinction between the Self (I AM) and the Role they are playing in a Situation. This is an important cause of conflicts. When you are a Manager you have to play the Manager and not be the Manager.

A life story is a Sequence of Situations that are always started by a CRITICAL Event. There a many ways to classify Events but a simple classification is a high point, a low point or a turning point.

In his book Paths of Change Will explains that there a many “Strategies” to change a life and of course a Life Story. Every connection of a World View to another World View can be considered a Change, a Conflict, a Game or a Dialogue.

An Event is related to the the World View Sensory. Sensory People view the world as a Causal Chain. When an Event takes place the Emotions come into play. Emotions are related to the Social World View.

According to Nico Frijda:

  • An emotion is usually caused by a person consciously or unconsciously evaluating an event as relevant to a concern that is important; the emotion is felt as positive when a concern is advanced and negative when a concern is impeded.
  •  The core of an emotion is readiness to act and the prompting of plans; an emotion gives priority for one or a few kinds of actions to which it gives a sense of urgency – so it can interrupt, or compete with, alternative mental processes or actions. Different types of readiness create different outline relationships with others
  • An emotion is usually experienced as a distinctive type of mental state, sometimes accompanied or followed by bodily changes, expressions, actions“.

Emotions Evaluate a Situation. When they Evaluate a Situation they use a Concern to Priotize. When they are able to priotize with ease or when the Event is Dangerous the Action is Unconscious. When a dangerous event takes place the Reptile Brain starts to work and the only re-actions that are possible are Fight, Flight and Freeze.

When a Major Event happens the priotization becomes Conscious. The Actor has to make a Decision. This decision is crucial for the next step (a new Situation).

When you have a look at (or feel, or listen to, ) Life Stories the Process of Decision Making is the most important factor. Socials always feel what the Others are doing or start to take care. Unities start to manage and want to restore Order. Sensories take care of Themselves (Ego) and Mythics want to restore harmony. What we see here is the Self-refererence of the Model of Will McWhinney. Inside the Emotions the World Views are again at play.

If we know how people Evaluate we are able to learn a lot about their Personality.

When we look at the Chronotopes of Bahktin we also know their Favorite Life Narrative. A Sensory uses the Chronotope of Destiny. His or her life is a sequence of events that are just happening.

A Social uses the Biography, the praise of a public figure who has accomplished something in life. When he has not accomplished anything his life is worthless. He is a total failure.

A Mythic is always searching for something (The Grale). His story is described by the Chronotope of Adventure. Deep inside the Mythic wants to find Rest and Harmony. When he finally finds Rest he feels the urge to move on. Therefore the Life of a Mythic is full of Turning Points.

When we know the Favorite Life Narrative we also know “How to Help“. A Social needs to be re-valuated. He needs a tap on the shoulder. He needs to be praised.

A Sensory has to stop to Wait and See. He needs to do something and learn from his mistakes. Somebody has to tell him that others have made the same mistake and he is able to prevent mistakes by looking (!!) at other life stories of comparable people. The most important persons could be his father or mother. They also have made mistakes and when they just tell their children frankly what they did many children would simply learn from the parents.

I hope you understand why the theory of Roger Schank is so important. His theory is able to help the Unity/Sensory-combination (Experts or Craftsman) and this combination covers about 80% of the people in Western Civilization.

Roger has now created an impressive Virtual School for Children all over the World. He is teaching children to learn a CRAFT again. He is not teaching THEORY but he is giving children the opportunity to ACT in REAL LIFE SITUATIONS. He is teaching them to become a Nurse or an Engineer. Craftmanship is HIGLHY needed in the underveloped countries.

The Virtual School is FOR FREE. It is financed by people who want to take care of the poor children in the World. The Virtual High School is using Games and it able to train Children to move to the level of the University within a very short time (max 8 years). Roger has made connections to Famous Universities in the US. They are also giving away their educational content (again Games developed by Roger Schank!) for free.

Funny enough I was unable to find anybody in the Netherlands who just wanted to try out his Virtual School. Every School and University in The Netherlands is re-inventing the Wheel. This is a Rule. The Dutch Government is spending billions to create something that is already available. This is also a Rule. If you want to know more send me an EMAIL.

About Story-Based-Games

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

About ten years ago I was asked to write a book. It was the first time somebody asked me to do this. The person who asked me to write a book was the former director of a foundation called SMO, Wim de Ridder. SMO is a Dutch think tank paid by many big companies in the Netherlands.

Together with Wim de Ridder, Erik Vreedenburgh and Gerard Rijntjes a team was formed. We wanted to explore a concept called Open Form.

Open Form uses the principles of evolution. We organized the book as a process. We started to interview many scientists and artists about evolution and created an interaction between them. People in isolated field of science got together and created new combinations. The book was a picture of a certain state of the process but the process went on after the “book” was published.

Konstapel. J. Vreedenburgh E, Rijntjes G.J.P. De onvermijdelijke culturele revolutie. Den Haag, SMO, 1998.

Open Form became the method SMO wanted to use and the first project was a big one. Big companies in the “Stimulant” Industry like Heineken wanted to start a dialog with the Dutch Government about the prevention of addiction. They gave us a budget to explore an innovative approach. The new approach was based on the theory of Roger Schank. Roger was a friend of mine and he was asked to become an advisor. He adressed the so called Les Indes Meeting in the Hague and the participants were so impressed that they gave us a budget.

What we wanted to build was a game and the inputs of the game were “real life stories”. The story of the project is told in this book “Virtueel Genieten. Diekstra, Drs. J. Konstapel, J.G. van der Leij, Prof.Dr. J.B. Rijsman, Drs. M.A. Visse, K.B. Vos, Drs. N. van Geelen”.

The game was a success. It was such a success that many government paid institutions started to block the implementation of the game. They were producing brochures and employed many researchers. The blocking of the implementation was successful. Strangely enough the researchers never paid any attention at the theory of Roger Schank. Sadly enough they have not done this until now. Researchers always want to re-invent the wheel.

Later a new tool was developed to support people that were un-employed and mentally ill (Virtual Work). The story of the project can be found in this book INTERNETSTURING IN DE ZELFREDZAME SAMENLEVING, Prof.dr. J.B. Rijsman, Drs. N. van Geelen, Drs. T.J. Golder.

We still used the theory of Roger Schank but combined his theory with the theory of Will McWhinney. The same thing that happened with our former project happened again. The government agency that was paying for the tool was unable to use it. Until now they are unable to help people to find suitable work. The main reason is that they are blocking every innovative action of a person who wants to start all over again. There are many rules that prevent this.

The next project was called Time Out. The target of this project was to build the most advanced story-telling-engine ever made. All the experience we had gathered in the former project would be used and the budget was spectacular. Unfortunately the project was never started. SMO decided to do it their own way. This is the game they created:

This is the book they wrote about the project. MAZZLE, Nieuw perspectief op gezondheidsvoorlichting, Jeroen Duijvestijn.

Have a look at our project plan (Dutch).

It this project we also used the theory of Emotions of Nico Frijda  and Interpersonal Theory.

Many people are now developing story-based websites but developing an effective story based game is something (I think) almost nobody has accomplished.

I will give you a two hints why all of them will fail.

The first thing is the collection of stories. Many people are telling stories but after a some time you realize that 80% of the people are telling the same story all over again. They are the victims. When you want to motivate people to “change their lives” stories about how people are not changing their lives are not helpful. This is also the problem with many self-help-cites. Victims always find places where they find other victims. The victims are entrained by the stories of the other victims. Nothing changes.

So when you want to find people that were successful you have to look elsewhere. This was the real problem with the project Virtual Work. The Dutch Government Agency that is taking care of the unemployed UWV , was unable to provide us with people with a success story. We used our own network to find them and they were rare.

The second problem is the Interview itself. You need a special gift to get the right story out of people. This gift is called empathy. You also need to know all the stories that are already told to know when the real important facts are “coming”.

Have A Look at this PowerPoint Presentation.


My article in the book “De onvermijdelijke culturele revolutie” (in Dutch)

The book about the project “Virtueel Genieten” (in Dutch)

About Addiction

About Entrainment

About Crowds