M.S. Defense: Zachary Tomaszewski, “Skald: An Affordance-based User Interface for Interactive Fiction”

Skald: An Affordance-based User Interface for Interactive Fiction
Zachary Tomaszewski
Friday, February 27, 2015,
POST 302, 9:30am

Abstract: Interactive fiction (IF) is a long-lived text-based computer game genre. A small community of game authors are still producing independent IF games, and IF can be used for a number of serious applications, including education and AI research. This work explores the defining features of IF as a form, as well as its shortcomings in terms of user interface (UI) affordances. It then provides Skald, an alternative menu-driven UI for IF. An empirical evaluation shows that Skald offers a number of advantages over the traditional IF interface. It eliminates user input errors, is rated as easier to use, and encourages players to explore the virtual game world to a greater degree. However, the study also reveals that Skald does not significantly increase users’ feelings of world-level user agency and that a sizable minority of players still prefer the traditional UI overall.

Scott Robertson (ICS, Chair)
Kim Binsted (ICS)
John Zuern (English)