A Propper Narrative

Brent Bailey

A Propper Narrative is a text-based computer game that maps traditional narrative structure to digital space. Using Vladimir Propp's 31 narrative functions as the basis for a "game map", it serves as both an educational tool about a classic form of literary analysis and an exploration of the ways that games and old-fashioned story models intersect and depart from one another in humorous and unexpected ways.

The game tells the story of an unnamed hero who has to travel through each of the 31 narrative functions described by Vladimir Propp as occurring in all folk literature, the way a traditional text adventure travels through "rooms." In each one, he faces different puzzles, villains, and monsters based on Propp's description of each function, laying bare the assembly-line nature of many of these stories and the difficulty of imposing Propp’s structure on new forms of narrative.

The game was made using Inform, a sentence-based programming language designed specifically for building text adventures.

About the Artist

Brent Bailey is an artist, researcher, and programmer currently in the process of finishing a master's degree at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications program. His work focuses on the ways computers model reality, through creative coding, games, and software. He occasionally teaches about code and generative text.