Bringing Together Interactive Digital Storytelling with Tangible Interaction: Challenges and Opportunities

Description of the Workshop

The emergence of tangible interaction and physical interfaces as a new interaction paradigm provides rich interactive spaces that are close to our senses and our way to understand the real world. We expect that including tangible or physical affordances in interactive storytelling settings will be commonplace in the future, bringing potential opportunities to improve storytelling tools, as well as the quality of the related user experiences by going more physical. However, using tangible objects for storytelling can be demanding and bring additional research challenges, as  such digital/physical tools expand the boundaries of the system beyond the digital space where computations typically take place. For example, while interactive storytelling systems in virtual environments are based on elaborated narrative models that build on artificial  intelligence, therefore facilitating the development of more complex story plots, tangible and embodied storytelling systems rely less on computational story modeling, and instead focus primarily on free story creation and play.

We envision that ideally, a system should combine the affordances of both modalities, this is, provide physical interaction and a good story. An example is the TOK interface, which combines physical elements with story creation. Here, the story world was designed using behaviour trees (BTs) and modelled to bring a certain degree of surprise in the unfolding of the narrative. However, the development of such systems is challenging, and there are many open questions, such as:

In order to explore these issues, our community needs to reflect on the implications of embedding tangible elements in storytelling systems and discuss how to combine tangible interfaces with narrative models and computational intelligence. With this goal in mind, this workshop to be held at ICIDS2017 aims at getting deeper insights in the field by bringing together experienced researchers and practitioners from the tangible and embodied interaction fields, and digital interactive storytelling communities, to share  experiences and foster discussion on these topics. Further, the expected outcome is that this workshop contributes to start possible research collaborations, which lead to new computational storytelling models specifically focusing on tangible and embodied interaction, and design guidelines and/or strategies. Joint publications reporting the cluster discussions will be sought and encouraged.

Call for participation

Participants are encouraged to share their experiences and vision on bringing digital interactive storytelling and tangible storytelling together by submitting a short informal position paper (1-3 pages in the Springer LNCS format).

Topics of special interest that would positively feed the development of the workshop are, for example:

Prospective participants interested in presenting a contribution are expected to fill in a participation form and submit an abstract and a position paper.


The submission process will be managed through the workshop’s website. You can register yourself and leave your contact details to receive any further instructions and update by filling in the pre-registration form. 

Accepted papers will be made available internally to all the participants before the workshop in order to prepare the joint sessions effectively. Possibilities for a prospective publication as an outcome of the workshop contributions will be announced in the workshop.In particular, we plan to call for extended papers to be published in a special issue or a post-proceedings publication.

Format and Schedule

The contributions will be presented during the workshop, in the form of a short talk, an interactive demo, or a video showcasing some prototype. The participants can choose the format that best suits their contribution/material, although the last two types are encouraged. The aim of having the presentations is two-fold: help to identify primary challenges, opportunities, constraints and limitations; and serve as input for a discussion and design session in which participants will collaborate in small groups or clusters. We expect to gather a maximum of 15 participants, which would lead to 3-4 design clusters groups. In the design session, the clusters are expected to pick a challenge and specific constraints (e.g. domain, target users, technology limitations...), identify limitations and opportunities, and work together to propose a design of a storytelling prototype that would allow to start exploring or addressing current limitations. Finally, the clusters will share their results and a joint discussion will be carried out in order to define design guidelines/strategies and decide on specific actions to consolidate future collaborations.

The workshop will (tentatively) be scheduled as follows: be aware of the starting time update at 14.00

14.00 - 15.30 13.30-15.00 Introduction, Talks/Demos

15.30-15.45 Break

15.45-16.40 Cluster work

16.40-17.30 Sharing, Joint Discussion and Conclusion


The organizers have together a mixed background on diverse areas such as interactive storytelling, virtual actors/characters, virtual agents, tangible and embodied interaction, human computer-interaction, artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. Join us to discuss different perspectives and make the workshop a successful event. We are looking forward to your participation!

Alejandro Catalá (a.catala at, Human Media Interaction, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Mariët Theune (m.theune  at, Human Media Interaction, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Cristina Sylla (sylla at, Center for Child Studies/engageLab, University of Minho, Portugal

Pedro Ribeiro (Pedro.Ribeiro at, Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Germany

You can address your questions and your interest in participating to Alejandro Catala by email.