Almost since their inception, video games have used narrative. Sometimes the narrative element has been implicit, other times open, but games have exploited narrative techniques, employed narrative suspense, and relied on narrative characters with ever greater sophistication.
There is, however, debate over the role narrative plays in video games. Is gameplay fundamentally distinct from narrative? Do we always subtlely try to narrativize our game experience? Does game narrative rely on the techniques of filmic and literary narrative? Does its creation of story worlds make its narrative form distinctive and original? How do the narratives employed in video games reflect and shape our sense of gender, race, sexuality, and national identity?
These and other questions are addressed at the International Conference on Games and Narrative, a hybrid conference hosted by the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo every two years. The conference provides an opportunity to examine the intersection between video games and narrative through a variety of online formats: live lectures, speaker panels, video essays, workshops, and live-streaming gameplay with commentary and discussion.