Job offer

Visualizing Story Structures in Persistent Game Worlds

Date: October 2nd, 2019
Domain: Human-Computer Interaction
Topic: Narrative Substrates
Group: ExSitu, INRIA Saclay, Université Paris-Saclay
Location: Bâtiment 650 (Ada Lovelace)
Supervisor: Wendy E. Mackay, Research Director (DR0), Inria

We are interested in applying the principles of Instrumental Interaction, especially the concept of substrates, to the design of interactive video games.


Players in modern Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) progress through ambitiously designed narratives, but have no real influence on the game, since only their characters’ data persist. Although earlier games supported player influence by persisting their changes in the world, they lacked meaningful ways of representing narratives that emerged from players’ actions. We argue that introducing strategies for capturing player activities and representing them in the world will make players feel more influential and remembered, communicating to others that actions have meaningful impact, and supply designers with material to produce more meaningful content.


The goal of this research internship is to explore how we can provide game designers with an interface that visualizes the narrative structures that emerge from players’ actions. We will build upon an existing game, WeRide, a live MMORPG environment that continuously generates and stores data in an SQL database. After observing players and working with game designers and storywriters, the student will specify appropriate visualization techniques, and then use existing data to build an interface that enables discovery and manipulation of player narratives.

Specific Activities

During the internship, the student will be expected to:
• explore existing approaches for visualization and sense-making of narrative structure;
• observe players and work with game designers and storywriters to learn how to make stories into playable elements;
• design and implement a tool, either as a standalone web application or directly into the game using Unreal Engine; and
• design and implement an experiment to evaluate the tools.
The internship will last from four to six months.

Expected Results

We anticipate that this work will lead to a publication in a top-tier research conference, such as ACM/CHI. We will also open a Ph.D. position on this topic.

Required Skills

We are looking for motivated students who are enthusiastic about MMORPGs and are interested in research in Human-Computer Interaction. Solid programming skills are required, especially web programming. Experience in Unreal Engine’s Blueprints or C++ programming is a plus. A background or interest in interactive narratives and storytelling is especially appreciated.


To apply, contact Viktor Gustafsson at