International Conference on Games and Narrative

Friday, October 29, 2021
by Games Institute

The GI’s Games and Narrative Reading group (whose goal is to investigate traditional texts on narrative theory alongside emerging theories in multimedia and games to theorize on what narrative in video games truly means) created the basis for the ICGaN. Guided by Drs. Ken Hirschkop and Neil Randall, the conference series goal is to challenge the complexities around narrative theories and functionality in games.

And so, from June 12th to 16th the GI held its inaugural International Conference on Games and Narrative. This 5-day conference welcomed participants and speakers from 47 universities, 28 of which were from outside of North America, as far as Australia and Southeast Asia. Presentations included scholars at the forefront of games studies; with Drs. Elizabeth LaPensée, Souvik Mukherjee, Clara Fernández-Vara, Jan-Noel Thön, Astrid Ensslin, and Dr. Kishonna Gray as keynote speakers—some of whom are considering living, founding figures of the discipline itself.

Conference topics included: narrative structure in videogames, narrative co-creation in games, narratives and social difference, gameplay and narrative, game worlds, and technology and presence. Participants had the opportunity to examine the intersection between videogames and narrative through a variety of online formats: live lectures, speaker panels, video essays, workshops, and live streaming gameplay with commentary and discussion. The entire conference was available online, hosted on the GI’s Discord and on GatherTown, in formats designed for maximum accessibility.

As GI Executive Director, Neil Randall put it:

“Huge thanks to Prof. Ken Hirschkop for spearheading the inaugural International Conference on Games and Narrative, which wound up its 5-day run last Wednesday...To say this was successful is an understatement, with speakers from 47 different universities, 28 of which were outside North America and as far away from here as China and Australia, and with six keynote speakers and several other presenters at the forefront of the Game Studies discipline.

My deep gratitude to GI PhD students Lindsay Meaning, Alex Fleck, Justin Carpenter, and Nicholas Hobin, who did hours of work setting this up, chairing and moderating sessions and keeping everything going, and to the GI staff – Grace van Dam, Pam Schmidt, Marisa Benjamin, and Jenn Rickert (okay, Jenn’s both PhD student and part-time staff) – for making sure nothing went off the rails. Superb stuff, and we hope to do the second one next year – ideally a hybrid version with some of it in the GI space”

GI members that helped act as chairs beyond the Conference Organizing Committee:

GI members that presented at the conference:

For more information, please visit ICGaN webpages to learn more about what the conference covered, and keep up to date on future conference news.