International Conference on Games and Narrative

International Conference on Games and Narrative (ICGaN)

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 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 in 2021. The conference provided 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. The entire conference was available online, in formats designed for maximum accessibility.

ICGaN will return in 2023! More information and a CFP will soon follow.


2022 Conference Update

March 17, 2022

Dear all,

The Organizing Committee of the International Conference on Games and Narrative has decided, reluctantly, to postpone the conference scheduled for July 2022 until 2023. Several considerations led us to this decision.  There have been some unanticipated organizational difficulties; we have discovered that July is a favourite holiday time for potential plenary speakers, and more importantly we are aware that colleagues in Eastern Europe – who played a prominent role in last year’s conference – have many other things to think about at this time. While we could have put on a conference this year, given our submissions, it seems more prudent to wait.  

We were thrilled by the response to last year’s conference, and we want to make sure to build on that momentum.  So there will be another full-blown conference in May or June of 2023, for which all submissions made to the 2022 conference will be automatically considered. We have decided that, in the meantime, we will press ahead with plans that were floated at the end of the first conference for a series of more modest events on games and narrative: single-day seminars devoted to a particular game. The first of these will take place in July 2022, on one of the days originally scheduled for ICGaN 2. Further information regarding these events will be forthcoming. 

We are disappointed with this result and will very much miss seeing all of you this summer. But we will meet again soon and look forward to continuing the project initiated at ICGaN.

With best wishes, 

Organizing Committee, International Conference on Games and Narrative 

Games Institute, University of Waterloo 

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