We study the use of the generative systems known as computational ecosystems to convey artistic and narrative aims. These are virtual worlds running on computers, composed of agents that trade units of energy and emulate cycles of life and behaviors adapted from biological life forms. In this article we propose a conceptual framework in order to understand these systems, which are involved in processes of authorship and interpretation that this investigation analyzes in order to identify critical instruments for artistic exploration. We formulate a model of narrative that we call system stories (after Mitchell Whitelaw), characterized by the dynamic network of material and conceptual processes that define these artefacts. They account for narrative constellations with multiple agencies from which meaning and messages emerge. Finally, we present three case studies to explore the potential of this model within an artistic and generative domain, arguing that this understanding expands and enriches the palette of the language of these systems.

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