International Conference on Games and Narrative Returns for Second Series

Thursday, June 1, 2023

International Conference on Games and Narrative 2023 Logo

On May 15-19, the GI held its second biennial conference on games and narrative. This year, the conference invited presentations on the theme of “Isolation and Return: The Making of Narrative Worlds.” It was a fully hybrid conference that was made possible with the use of Dr. Neil Randall’s Storyboard Lab, which involved several Cisco screens to create an immersive experience. Around 40 participants joined the conference online while another 30 participated in person.

Five keynote speakers presented on a wide range of topics including how single player open-world games construct loneliness to how colonial narratives are built and replicated in games. Joining the conference as keynotes were:

  • Dr. Mia Consalvo (Concordia University, Montreal) – “An Unintended Moral Dilemma Meets Gamer Mode in Victoria 3: Or Can You Colonize in Videogames in a Non Problematic Way? (No)”
  • Dr. Mark J.P. Wolf (Concordia University, Wisconsin) – “Isolation, Contemplation, and the Lonely Worlds of Single-Player Open-World Video Games”
  • Dr. Jakub Szamałek (Rebel Wolves, frm. CD Projekt Red) – “Why is Video Game Writing Bad?”
  • Dr. Kishonna Gray (University of Kentucky) – “Narrating Race: Intersectional Practices in Design and Digital Gaming”
  • Dr. Jesper Juul (The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts) – “A Short History of the Meaning of Video Games”

Over the course of the five-day conference, panellists presented on topics that touched on the structure of game narratives, queerness and race in character design, serious games for health and learning, to name a few. The conference welcomed attendees and speakers from 30 universities, 10 of which were outside of North America.

Included in the conference were workshops on game design tools like RPG Maker led by Dakota Pinheiro and Twine led by Drs. Elina Roinioti and Renard Gluzman, a streaming relay of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and several academic game streams focused on critical commentary and gameplay of games like Disco Elysium with Aleksander Franiczek, Stray with Nicholas Hobin, Civilization 6 with Dr. Ken Hirschkop, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild with Pamela Maria Schmidt and Toben Racicot.

Finally, the conference organizing committee and the GI would like to thank the many volunteers (many of them being GI members!) that helped make this conference possible behind the scenes with planning and day-of tech support.