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Build Me a World: World Building and Emergent/ Environmental Storytelling in the Creative Writing Classroom

AWP Conference, March 2, 2012, 4:30 PM

Trent Hergenrader

on 16 April 2012

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Transcript of Build Me a World: World Building and Emergent/ Environmental Storytelling in the Creative Writing Classroom

25 students each assigned:
- 10 items (250 items)
- 5 locations (125 places)
- 5 characters (125 people)
Class discussions about politics, economies, societies of this world
Site modeled after the Vault wiki
Build Me a World
World Building and Emergent/ Environmental Storytelling in the Creative Writing Classroom
Trent Hergenrader
Ph.D. Candidate
English-Creative Writing
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

AWP Conference
March 2, 2012

NEA's Reading on the Rise (?)
Among college-aged respondents, 51.7% (only half) reported having read a literary work
Popular genre fiction: mysteries, thrillers, romance, and science fiction
2008 Pew Study - Adults and Video Games
21% of adult regularly play video games daily
65% of college students spend equal time playing video games and studying (all subjects)
Cause for
and gloom?
Cultural decline vs. cultural shift
NEA study equates print literacy with culture
Discounts cultural value of other media
- Film
- Graphic novels
- Websites
- Social media

ENG 236:Intro Topics in Creative Writing
Gaming, World Building, and Narrative
UW-Milwaukee, Spring 2011
Using Role-playing to teach principles of fiction writing
1. Narrative across media
2. Wiki world building
3. Tabletop role-playing
Gaming, World Building, Narrative
Game Design & Gaming Theory
spatial storytelling
Emergence: a number of simple rules combining to form interesting variation
Progression: separate challenges presented serially
"[To] tell a story through the experience of traveling through a real, or imagined physical space. Unlike a linear movie, [the] audience will have choices along their journey. They will have to make decisions based on their relationship to the virtual world...as well as their everyday knowledge of the physical world. Most important of all, their experience is going to be a "spatial" one."
Environmental Storytelling
Going from this
type of story map...
to this type...
Cataloging Fictional Worlds
Student-Built World
Fallout 3 Map
Rivertown Map
Plotted onto Google Map
Benefits of Emergent &
Environmental Storytelling
enormous & detailed world
negotiated sense of reality
focus on smaller narrative units
emphasis on exploration/discovery
increased interest in peer writing
volume of collaborative writing
Quick Start Guide
1. Obtain wiki space (wikispaces.com)
2. Assign people, places, things
3. Place locations on Google map w/links
4. Choose at random for each student:
2 characters
1 location
1 item
5. Have students write 1K-word vignettes
6. Repeat step #4 as necessary
Character Creation in Role-Playing Games
Full transcript