International Conference on Games and Narrative

International Conference on Games and Narrative Homepage

Hosted by the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo, June 11-16, 2021.


Almost since their inception, videogames 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 videogames.  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 storyworlds make its narrative form distinctive and original?  How do the narratives employed in videogames reflect and shape our sense of gender, race, sexuality, and national identity?

These and other question were addressed at the inaugural International Conference on Games and Narrative, a fully virtual conference to be hosted by the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo.  The conference provided an 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, in formats designed for maximum accessibility.

The conference was a forum for analysis and discussion, but also a place to meet others with an interest in games and narrative, to learn about how game creators think about narrative design, and to enjoy, in the company of peers, the narrative pleasures and perils of the games themselves.  We covered gaming from the mainstream to the avant-garde, from the commercial to the political, and talk about the various ways in which our narrative experience and our daily lives intersect.

Keynote speakers will include Astrid Ensslin, Clara Fernández-Vara, Elizabeth La Pensée, Kishonna Gray, Jan-Noël Thon, and Souvik Mukherjee.

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