Keywords: oral poetics, oral improvisation, primary oral cultures, minimal games
TL;DR: A computer system is designed to do minimal oral improvisation based on Ong’s theory of poetics in primary oral cultures.
Abstract: We describe our system for playing a minimal improvisational game in a group. In Chain Reaction, players collectively build a chain of word pairs or solid compounds. The game emphasizes memory and rapid improvisation, while absurdity and humor increases during play. Our approach is unique in that we have grounded our work in the principles of oral culture according to Walter Ong, an early scholar of orature. We show how a simple computer model can be designed to embody many aspects of oral poetics, suggesting design directions for other work in oral improvisation and poetics. The opportunities for our system’s further development include creating culturally specific automated players; situating play in different temporal, physical, and social contexts; and constructing a more elaborate improvisor.