Play Me a Story: Videogames as Narrative

full name / name of organization: 
Lancaster University

Despite the exponential rise of videogames in contemporary culture (the gaming industry now being more lucrative than film) critical consideration of games as narrative texts remains in its infancy. Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Naomi Alderman recently argued that videogames could – indeed should – be the greatest storytelling medium of our age. However, narrative in videogames exists on the margins of literary acceptance, and although digital texts are increasingly attracting scholarly interest, this usually refers to the written word in a digital context, rather than an audio-visual narrative representation that the player interacts with.

Early videogames such as Tomb Raider used narrative as a means of ludic justification, to maintain player interest, and to provide a reward for ludic skill. However, recent years have seen a shift in the way narrative is used in videogames. Narrative can now eclipse the traditionally central ludic components – with the result being that videogames can prioritise narrative over more ludically structural rules and goals. Videogames such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and The Last of Us interconnect ludic play and narrative engagement to establish new gaming experiences that can bring about evolutions in narrative and in gaming.

This one day symposium, to be held on Friday 10 June 2016, will bring together scholars from various disciplines to provide a platform for the discussion of videogames as narratives, to ascertain the status of the medium as a storytelling device, and to consider the role that videogames play in the development of narrative in the 21st Century. Issues that papers might consider could include, but are not limited to:
•Narratology in videogames
•Narrative challenges in videogame creation
•Representing narrative in an audiovisual medium
•Interactivity and Identity in videogames
•Videogames and adaptation
•Remediation of other media in videogames (and vice versa)
•Death and dying in videogames
•Performativity in videogames
•Specific case studies of videogames as narrative media
•Narrative instead of gameplay, such as rise of the Let's Play
•Emergent narratives in gaming communities and/or experiences

Abstracts of approximately 300 words, complete with a brief, 50 word biography should be submitted to the organisers at by Friday 26th February 2016.