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GDC Online 2012 debuts first sessions for Game Narrative Summit

With GDC Online 2012 quickly taking shape, show organizers have revealed the initial lineup for the event's Game Narrative Summit, which features a talk on writing for casual players, a look at crafting in-game romances, and a discussion on mystery and occult game design.

Now in its seventh year, the Game Narrative Summit -- formerly the Game Writers Conference -- will once again showcase leading industry professionals on the many facets of interactive storytelling, with sessions ranging from roundtable discussions, workshops, case studies, and more.

GDC Online itself will take place Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center at Austin, Texas.

The initial sessions and lectures featured in the two-day Game Narrative Summit include the following:

- If you're writing for a traditional console game, chances are your stories are aimed squarely at a young male audience, but as Big Fish Games' Lisa Brunette will explain, storytelling techniques have to change quite wildly if you move over into the social or casual realm.

In her talk, "Immersive Storytelling for a Misunderstood Audience," Brunette will discuss how Big Fish writes games for the over-35 female audience with games like Cooking Dash and Mystery Case Files (pictured). Along the way, she'll detail how social audiences differ from the traditional console crowd, noting what developers need to do to write stories for each demographic.

- Elsewhere, Schell Games designer Heidi McDonald will outline a new model for writing successful romances in single player RPGs, which draws influence from games, writing, psychology, and more.

The session, dubbed "Writing the Romance-able NPC: ICING the Content Cake," will showcase how this "ICING" model leverages scholarly works to make virtual romances more believable, interesting, and complex.

- Finally, video game academic and story analyst Jeff Howard will present "Occult Game Design: An Initiation into Secrets and Mysteries," which will examine titles such as The Binding of Isaac and The Legend of Grimrock, and explain how mystery plays a key role in hooking a player's attention.

According to Howard, "mystery enables puzzles that are pervasive and organic rather than localized and artificial," and during his talk he will provide some advice on crafting in-game mysteries that "heighten player engagement, enrich player communities, and keep satisfied players wanting more."

These sessions join a number of other talks from GDC Online's main conference, including a look at EA's multiplatform strategy, Riot Games on growing League of Legends, and more. For more information on any of the sessions announced thus far, check out the main conference or Summit pages on the show's official website.

Keep an eye out for even more exciting keynotes and sessions, as GDC Online organizers have plenty more in store before the event opens its doors this October. Those interested in attending GDC Online can secure their pass now, as online registration is now open.

For more information of GDC Online, visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.

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