GDC | Game Narrative Summit

Game Narrative Summit (M-T)

Learn about interactive narrative in all forms, including AAA blockbusters, indie games, mobile, and social projects in the Game Narrative Summit, Monday and Tuesday, March 19-20, 2018. Hear an all-star lineup of speakers covering advanced theory and practical case studies for writers, designers, producers, and others with a passionate interest in the ongoing evolution of interactive storytelling.

View all Game Narrative Summit sessions


Featured Sessions


All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, or GDC Summits Pass required to attend summit sessions (M-T).

Productive Dissension: How a Diverse Writers' Room Created 'Life is Strange: Before the Storm'
Zak Garriss (Deck Nine Games)
This lecture will share how Zak Garriss, lead writer for 'Life Is Strange: Before the Storm', adapted a TV writers' room for the production of a 1500+ page interactive script. The talk covers the strengths and challenges of writers working together: greater diversity of representation and perspective, more eyes criticizing the work, faster iteration and production, higher quality of story, but all potentially at the risk of coherency of voice and vision becoming compromised. Focusing on how to leverage these strengths and overcome these challenges from both production and creative angles, this talk explores one model for the future of narrative design in games.
Character Development in Non-Linear Spaces: 'Uncharted: The Lost Legacy'
Josh Scherr (Naughty Dog Inc.)
When Naughty Dog set out to make a huge, open-ended area for 'Uncharted: The Lost Legacy', they had to adapt their usual "wide-linear" narrative techniques to allow for more player choice, while still keeping the development of Chloe and Nadine's relationship consistent and natural. In this talk, co-writer Josh Scherr will provide an overview of Naughty Dog's story development techniques, followed by a detailed look at the writing process for this unique area, including: cutscenes and gameplay dialogue, the choices and compromises they made to make it work, and the mistakes they hope to avoid in the future.
Writing and Narrative Design: A Relationship
Eric Stirpe (Telltale Games)
Molly Maloney (Telltale Games)
Narrative design may be a rapidly growing field in the game industry, but how does it differ from writing? The marriage between the two disciplines can be like chocolate and peanut butter, but it's not always easy. What happens when a writer thinks a player interaction ruins an emotional moment? What happens when a designer thinks a line of dialogue is too subtle to drive the player toward their goal? Who "wins" the dispute? Does it involve a cage match? Join Telltale writer Eric Stirpe and Narrative Designer Molly Maloney as they discuss where writing ends, design begins, and the delicate balance between the two that results in great storytelling.
Designing Great Interactive Narratives on Mobile
Cass Phillipps (Pocket Gems)
Marisa Bell (Big Fish Games)
Jon Ingold (inkle)
Rachel Weber (GamesRadar+)
The interactive narrative genre has exploded on mobile, with the market size increasing by 10x in the last three years alone. In many ways, it's still a very young genre that's constantly changing and evolving new formats. This panel of mobile story experts from Inkle, Big Fish Games, and 'Episode' (Pocket Gems) will discuss and debate how to create great narratives for mobile users, navigating shorter attention spans, on-the-go consumption, and smaller interactive screens.
Crafting RPG Worlds in Real Environments with AR
Zilvinas Ledas (Tag of Joy)
Sarunas Ledas (Tag of Joy)
The release of 'Pokemon GO' showed that location-based augmented reality games can be successful and played by millions. By accepting new technical possibilities, story-writers and game developers are able to craft new exciting worlds. However, storytelling and game design practices for such games are not widely known yet. Observations and experiences gained during the design and development of location-based AR game 'Monster Buster: World Invasion' will be shared in this talk. Storytelling and game design issues, solutions and new possibilities will also be discussed.

Game Narrative Summit Advisors


Tom Abernathy
ArenaNet
Tom Abernathy is the Studio Narrative Director at ArenaNet. His major game credits include 'Guild Wars 2, 'The Division', 'League of Legends', 'Crimson Alliance', 'Halo: Reach', 'The Saboteur', and 'Destroy All Humans!' 1 & 2. An 18-year industry veteran of Jumo (Director of Narrative), Riot Games (Lead Narrative Writer), Microsoft Studios, and the late, great Pandemic Studios, in 2009 Tom was named as one of "The Gamasutra 20: Top Game Writers." He was also the primary writer on this year's multi-award-winning 'Man in the High Castle' project 'Resistance Radio,' and his most recent film credit, 'Bad Country,' was released in 2014 by Sony Pictures. Follow him on Twitter @tomabernathy.
Lev Chapelsky
Blindlight
Lev Chapelsky is a founding partner and GM for Blindlight, a Hollywood-based company that works exclusively for the video game industry, providing game producers with consultative advice on working with outsource talent, as well as soup to nuts production of outsourced projects. Blindlight's core disciplines include story development, script writing, celebrity acquisition and voiceover production.  Since its founding in 2000, Blindlight has earned over 300 game credits and a client list that includes 19 of the top 20 game publishers. Blindlight continues to work as part of extended development teams on original game properties, including the 'Splinter Cell', 'Far Cry', 'Elder Scrolls', 'Dishonored', 'Fallout', 'Tomb Raider', 'Guild Wars' and 'Destiny' franchises, and on dozens of film and TV licensed properties. Lev holds a B.F.A. degree from Notre Dame, an M.B.A. from UCLA and a degree in International Business Management from The Stockholm School of Economics.
Richard Dansky
Ubisoft/Red Storm
As Central Clancy writer, Richard has been with Red Storm/Ubisoft for over a decade. He has worked on games in series such as 'Splinter Cell', 'Ghost Recon', 'Rainbow Six', 'Far Cry' and 'Might and Magic', with his most recent title being 'Tom Clancy's The Division'. A former executive of the IGDA Writers' Special Interest Group, Richard is the author of seven novels and one short fiction collection. He has also contributed to numerous books on games and game design, including the award-winning, "Hobby Games: The 100 Best." Previously, Richard worked on more than a hundred role-playing game books for White Wolf Game Studios. His published work includes short fiction as well as literary criticism, book and music reviews, humor and a brief stint as the world's greatest authority on Denebian Slime Devils. He lives in North Carolina.
Susan O'Connor
Susan O'Connor Writing Studio
Susan O'Connor is a writer. She works with studios to create worlds and adventures for video games. Titles in her portfolio have sold over ten million copies and generated more than half a billion dollars in sales. Gamasutra has named her as one of the top writers working in the video game industry today. She has been a featured speaker at SXSW, TEDx and the Austin Film Festival. A native of Austin, O'Connor now lives in San Francisco and splits her time between game projects, TV assignments, and surfing. She is represented by United Talent Agency.

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