Mixed-initiative story co-creation with TaleMaker

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Most storytelling games bring people together to co-create stories. However, they often require considerable creative effort and skills from all players, possibly discouraging less resourceful participants and impairing stories' quality. Moreover, most stories created within these games are usually only kept in players' minds rather than on storage, despite being a valuable and original asset, with a large potential for the narrative research community. We address these challenges with a novel mixed-initiative approach aimed at supporting a group of players to incrementally co-create a story, one sentence at a time. Our method features a hand generator that offers a unique set of tokens (words) to each player in each turn. This generator carefully combines tokens relevant to the ongoing story, to each individual player, to the group as a whole and random. We implemented this method in TaleMaker, a multiplayer online game that stimulates playful co-creation of a story. TaleMaker gives players considerable creative freedom to compose their sentences, combining a gentle structural steering with the wisdom of the group to determine the best direction for the story. The collected output of TaleMaker consists of annotated stories, with slots (e.g. action, character, location) filled with words associated with a WordNet synset. From a preliminary evaluation, players reported that TaleMaker effectively stimulated story authoring, and perceived TaleMaker-created stories of considerable quality. In addition, a first analysis of the collected tokens confirms that players mostly collected story-related tokens, rather than those randomly offered.