See the schedule in grid form.

All times are shown in US Eastern time.

June 6-20 – NarraScope game jam

The game jam is organized around the NarraScope workshops, but everybody is welcome to join. See here for game jam info.

Saturday (June 8) – early online workshops

Advance registration required.

  • 8:009:20 (US Eastern)
    • Representing Reality in TwineIan Greener
      This session is about getting students (or teachers) to make an interactive game which can be used to learn about a subject (by making a simple simulation of the choices made within it), or to teach that subject (by getting students to play a game in class and reflect on their experiences). It will be based on the structure of a game made by Ian and used in teaching about health policy.
  • 9:3010:20 (US Eastern)
    • Perilous and Obscure Interactive Fiction for the ClassroomBrendan Desilets
      A freewheeling discussion of games that might work in the classroom for one purpose or another. Both tested and untested stories are welcome. So are authors who’d like to promote their own work. The more-or-less tried-and-true entries will include “Her Majesty’s Trolley Problem,” Suspect, Mask of the Rose, and “The Xylophoniad.” And there’ll be relatively untested titles, too, such as such as His Majesty’s Ship “Impetuous” (original version and Jimmy Maher’s update), “The Space Under the Window,” “Silverwolf,” Pendragon, Patchwork Girl, “The Fire Tower,” “The Forever Labyrinth,” “Muggle Studies,” and Loom.
  • 10:3011:20 (US Eastern)
    • An Introduction to GDevelopDamon Wakes
      A brief introduction to a beginner-friendly game engine. GDevelop is not an interactive fiction tool specifically, and because of that it opens up possibilities beyond what’s typically possible in Twine or Bitsy. However, it’s similarly easy to get to grips with. This workshop will cover the absolute basics of how to create a functioning work of interactive fiction in GDevelop, and explore some of the new options that this opens up.
  • 12:0014:00 (US Eastern)
    • Building Tiny Narrative Worlds: Binksi WorkshopRuber Eaglenest, PRINCESS INTERNET CAFé
      Bitsy and other bitsy-likes have historically been tools to create small vignettes and short stories. In this two-hour workshop, you will learn how to use Binksi: a fork of Bipsi (a Bitsy clone) that uses Ink (Inkle Studios’ scripting system) to power its dialogue system. After this workshop, you will be able to create tiny worlds that feel alive and are responsive to the player’s actions.
  • 13:3014:50 (US Eastern)
    • Crafting Interactive Stories with ChoiceScriptJoey Jones
      ChoiceScript is an easy to learn language for making choice-based games. It really shines in making longer experiences, with different player traits and relationships being tracked and influencing the plot. In this workshop, we’ll learn how to make a game in ChoiceScript, as well as covering a number of ways of structuring interactive stories so you can have plenty of choices without combinatorial explosion.
  • 15:0016:50 (US Eastern)

Friday (June 21) – online workshops

Advance registration required, except where noted.

  • 13:0014:50 (US Eastern)
    • Creating a More Dynamic Narrative World: an Inform Workshop for Post-BeginnersJudith Pintar
      In this workshop, participants will gain practice in the use of “special events” to provide context-specific narrative experience for reader-players, making descriptions more sensitive to actions previously taken, or to other contextual features like weather or time of day. They will also learn how to create an intelligent hint system that knows what players have already done and need to be nudged to do to move the narrative along with subtle finesse.
  • 15:0015:50 (US Eastern)
    • Teachers Talking Turkey about Teaching IFChris Klimas, Katryna Starks
      In this panel discussion, members of IFTF Education Committee will share their classroom experiences, and lead a conversation about how teaching IF (at different educational levels and in different venues) has changed. Topics may include the sanctioned and unsanctioned use of AI tools in authoring IF, the challenge of multi-authored IF (ie. group projects), and other topics suggested by participants.
  • 16:0017:00 (US Eastern)
    • Game Jam Debrief
      In this session, game jam participants will get together to talk about their experience, and to share their favorite moments/writing in their games. (Advance registration is not required for this session.)
  • 16:0017:30 (US Eastern)
    • Learn the Basics of Writing Branching Narratives with Yarn SpinnerParis Buttfield-Addison
      This workshop will teach attendees how to use the free, open-source interactive narrative and game development tool, Yarn Spinner. In 90 minutes, you’ll learn how to write stories in Yarn that branch, use variables, jumps, commands, and more, as well as the future of Yarn Spinner, including saliency for storylets, and automated choose-your-own-adventure book creation. We will conclude by briefly touching on using Yarn Spinner with a game engine, like Unity or Godot. Yarn Spinner is the free and wildly popular tool that was used to build everything from Dredge, to A Short Hike, to Lost in Random, to Night in the Woods (which is what we built it for originally).
  • 16:0018:00 (US Eastern)
    • Relikpunk OdditiesRainer Wren Dalton, Laya Liebeseller, E. L. Meszaros, Mairi Nolan
      This workshop will explore the making of the ARG presented and played at Narrascope as a collective, community process. It addresses what it means to work in the liminal between digital and analog, fixed and ephemeral, theory and community, and consensus realities and alternate histories. The ARG itself seeks to investigate the ways in which ephemera exist as a part of both consensus reality and the imagined.

Friday (June 21) – in-person

Saturday-Sunday (June 22-23) – demo room – in-person

The demo room will be open 11:30 AM to 5:15 PM Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:15 PM Sunday. (Adjacent to the lunch area.)

Saturday-Sunday (June 22-23) – Relikpunks ARG – online

From roughly 1982 to 1989, Relikpunk Oddities, a community-created, underground, zine-based TTRPG, flourished in the queer community. By 1999, it had become a folktale. While attending NarraScope a small collective of researchers and players are requesting your assistance in finding proof of this game’s existence. This call to action will challenge you to navigate the ephemera left behind by the community – used character sheets, zines, and game-pieces as well as an ever-growing web archive of community stories. If you, yourself, played Relikpunk Oddities we’d love to hear and archive your stories as we attempt to recover this erased classic.

Saturday (June 22)

  • 9:009:45 (US Eastern)
  • 9:4510:00 (US Eastern)
  • 10:0011:00 (US Eastern)
    • Keynote: Spatial Tales and Highland SongsNat Clayton
      Why is a career level designer keynoting a narrative design conference, anyway? Fresh off the heels of helping Inkle Studios release its musical Scottish hike ’em up A Highland Song, I want to talk about how I worked with the indie wordsmiths to build a game whose story is told as much in its hills as with its prose, and how architecture and spatial design can help us weave mood and meaning into our digital worlds.
  • 11:0011:30 (US Eastern)
  • 11:3012:30 (US Eastern)
    • Interactive Fiction as Embodied Storytelling: Why We Need to Think about Immersive Player TypesJudith Pintar
      “Interactive fiction” is conventionally described as text games. “Immersive storytelling” includes visually rich digital, often virtual environments, or live, physical experiences like LARPS or interactive theater. But we should consider reading IF as having the full range of immersive player experiences. What does that mean, and what type of IF player are you?
    • What the Glulx? The Inform Tech StackZed Lopez
      (Room A – remote presentation)
      The Inform tech stack is surprisingly hard for a newcomer to apprehend. [It’s hairy for us old folks too! –Ed.] What happens when you click “Go” in the Inform IDE? We will provide a high level view of compilation, virtual machines, Blorb, and other mysteries.
    • Interactive Fiction in the LibraryBrendan Desilets, Colin Post
      (Room B)
      Libraries are more than repositories for books and other media; they have a mission to develop literacy skills, provide access to information technology, and foster community around literature. We will consider the role that public and academic libraries can take on to promote playing and creating interactive fiction.
  • 12:3013:30 (US Eastern)
  • 13:3014:00 (US Eastern)
    • It’s All in the Cards: Tarot, Pattern Language and Player AgencyJoseph Sutton
      Tarot and oracle cards are more than simply a means to foretell one’s future. They also serve as tools to determine and manifest one’s own desires – an interactive “writerly text” in which the reader’s choices and experiences open and close different narrative possibilities. This talk will apply Christopher Alexander’s concept of pattern languages to oracle cards, with reference to literature inspired by tarot, such as Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies.
    • Make the Player Do the WritingZiba Scott
      (Room A)
      I’ve spent the last ten years making games where players are invited to write significant amounts of text as they play. I’ll share some of our answers to questions we encountered along the way, like: How do you keep players inspired and on-topic? What can you do about trolls? Does anybody want to read other players’ writing? We’ll discuss Elegy for a Dead World, Kind Words, Kind Words 2 and some smaller experiments.
    • Using IF Tools for Introductory Astrophysics TutorialsMichael Stage
      (Room B)
      Having taught introductory astronomy and physics using a variety of technology in a variety of sized classes, I find it difficult to provide students meaningful opportunities to explore systems that change states. The tools of interactive fiction, however, are designed to do exactly this. I have created several simple prototype tutorials using Twine for introductory astronomy, and will talk about the challenges, results, and response from the students.
  • 14:0014:15 (US Eastern)
  • 14:1514:45 (US Eastern)
    • Telling Stories Through Translation: The Trials and Tribulations of Using Language Translation as a Game MechanicJet Vellinga
      Chronicles of the Sea had one very specific design seed: to create a narrative game using language translation as its main mechanic. In this game, the story of the collapse of a civilization is uncovered through solving language puzzles written in a conlang (constructed language). I’ll dive into the process of designing a conlang and the design challenges that arose when using language translation in an archaeological context.
    • Random Testing for Narrative GamesAutumn Chen
      (Room A – remote presentation)
      Testing is a difficult but necessary process of game development. Narrative games in particular are often comprised of a complex assemblage of story scenes with nonlinear traversal orders and complex chains of dependency, making it difficult for an individual tester to see more than a small fraction of the possible paths. I’ll discuss how random testing can be used to help designers understand the extended story space. I will also discuss how random testing may fail to replicate human player behavior, and what may be done to address that issue.
    • AI is Obsolete: Generative Glitch Narrativesnilson carroll
      (Room B)
      This presentation stems from my extensive work with glitches-as-art-practice, particularly in the field of ROM corruption. Using a variety of software and hardware techniques, I introduce glitches into, for instance, Dragon Quest III, disrupting every element of the game – the music, the gameplay systems, the visuals, and the dialogue. Through this process, new and explicitly queer narratives emerge from the neo-liberal fantasy adventure typical of many mainstream games.
  • 14:4515:15 (US Eastern)
  • 15:1515:30 (US Eastern)
    • Architectural Storytelling: Worldbuilding through TimeKatryna Starks
      Architecture has many functions in video games: establishing the world, evoking moods, providing paths, or concealing characters. But one role is not often mentioned: conveying the passage of time. We’ll explores the architecture present in various games and contrasts it with real-world depictions of lived cities, taking viewers through time and history of place via the buildings that exist in it.
    • Strong Characterization in Short GamesTabitha O’Connell
      (Room A)
      How do you write memorable, compelling characters in short (under 30 minutes) games? How do you write pre-established protagonists (as opposed to player-insert, blank slate PCs) while still giving the player agency?
    • My Experience as a First Time Visual Novel WriterValencia Coleman
      (Room B – remote presentation)
      As someone from a different game discipline, branching out to another field can be difficult. If you have the right amount of preparation, then it is possible to be a game writer for small projects. We will explain the steps to prepare for your first small-time writer position for small projects, such as game jams – or how to support new writers entering the discipline.
  • 15:3015:45 (US Eastern)
    • Refracting Freytag’s Pyramid: Aleatory Elements and Interactive Fiction to Teach Narrative DesignTrent Hergenrader
      Whereas a typical interactive fiction might present a player-character with a few options, an IF with tabletop role-playing game mechanics mixes in new possibilities such as success, critical success, or failure. I will discuss my project of building popular tabletop role-playing games and their rule sets into Twine in order to better teach the concept of narrative design to undergraduate creative writing students.
    • The End of the Day: Turning a Solo RPG into an IRL Public Art InstallationApril Soetarman
      (Room A)
      The End of the Day is an award-winning public audio installation that can only be played at sunset. It consists of a series of engraved brass plaques mounted on benches facing westward over the water. I’ll discuss the evolution of the game beginning in the summer of 2020, from an initial Twine game to live online Zoom performance to the final park bench iteration.
    • How Belgian Reality TV Made Me a Better Game DesignerSophie Mallinson
      (Room B – remote presentation)
      We will introduce viewers to the thrilling world of Belgian and Dutch psychological reality games, while uncovering the goldmine of game design lessons hidden within them. From Y2K favourite The Mole to groundbreaking newcomers like international hit series The Traitors and “GeoGuessr IRL” BestemmingX, this niche TV genre has much to teach game developers about multiplayer design, asymmetrical play, metagaming, live operations, and – of course – emergent narrative.
  • 15:4516:00 (US Eastern)
    • Rocks and Why They MatterHexe Fey
      (Theater – remote presentation)
      Why do rocks matter? Why, in fact, do rocks matter? Rocks – inspiration, spiritual guide(????), desk decoration, or microchip: why the heck do they matter?
    • Inviting the Player to Practice Positive Self-TalkNicholas O’Brien
      (Room A)
      I’m making a minigame anthology game (think Bishi Bashi/Wario Ware) called “Bundle of Joy” about becoming a parent during the pandemic. The game’s themes revolve around stress, self-doubt, relationships, and reminding yourself that you’re doing your best. I’ll show examples of in-game choices and playtester responses as a way practicing positive self-talk and collaborative catharsis.
    • Everything is Storytelling – But is it Coherent?Gary Chadwick
      (Room B – remote presentation)
      What is missing from the game? How do we use familiar mechanics in unfamiliar ways? How do we parallel the functioning of real-world systems? Using my own game com__et as an example, we’ll talk about using all aspects of a game to communicate the story in a way that also reinforces the themes.
  • 16:0016:30 (US Eastern)
  • 16:3017:30 (US Eastern)
    • The Art of Ludic Adaptation: How to Make Games Out of Books, Movies, or Almost AnythingTim Bryant
      Have you ever wanted to design your own game, but didn’t know where to start? One good source of material may be the books and movies you’re already reading and watching. Scholars have long debated the pros and cons of adapting stories from literature to film; the subject of converting works of literature and cinema into games has received less critical attention.
    • Building Captivating Character Psychology using the EnneagramDavid Kuelz
      (Room A)
      Aristotle said the best endings are “surprising, yet inevitable” – difficult to predict on the surface, but rooted in logic so powerful that the revelation immediately “clicks” into place. That same statement applies to revelations of character. A complex personality is an extension of a complex motive. But how do you go about constructing a motive?
    • The Time Travel Agency’s DATTOPIASJocelyn Ibarra
      (Room B – remote presentation)
      “These days there’s this dystopia and that dystopia, which one are we going to get?” The Time Travel Agency proposes neither; instead it offers DATTOPIAS – uncommon, alternative narratives that fall in the spectrum that is the Future. Through DATTOPIAS we will explore networked narratives, netprov games, e-lit, and speculative design. This will be a very interactive session where we make some Dattopias together and then take a peek into their tooling (platforms), narrative design (worldbuilding, scenario design), and output (narrative games). 100% guarantee that you’ll invent a future or we give you your time back!

Sunday (June 23)

  • 9:0010:00 (US Eastern)
  • 10:0011:00 (US Eastern)
    • The Art of the Shitty First DraftRick Stemm
      (Theater – remote presentation)
      “Faster! Worse!” This is something I often tell my game and narrative designers early on in the process. Preciousness of your work, siloing, and deep-diving are antagonists of rapid iteration and collaboration. The faster you can get something out there to talk about, the faster you can get all roles aligned and turn yourself in the right direction.
    • Big Story, Tiny Engine: Hacking Bitsy to Tell Rich, Puzzle-Driven StoriesNat Mesnard, Elana Bell Bogdan
      (Room A)
      We will explore the possibilities (and limitations) of Bitsy development in this postmortem of Banned Together. What insights did we gain on collaborative narrative design within a queer game making ethos? How did we connect themes of trans love, college activism, and library justice with game design inspired by Myst, Outer Wilds, and the “metroidbrainia” genre? When is a tiny game engine perfect for telling an ambitious story?
    • Choose Your Own Ed-venture: Multi-User Dungeons and Computer Science EducationDouglas Luman
      (Room B)
      An overview of “term-world”, an effort to apply the multi-user dungeon (MUD) to teach a narrative form of computer science. We’ll discuss early computing, specifically games like Adventure, the PLATO system, Zork, and other projects; then look at “term-world”, computer science tooling, and the Python programming language.
  • 11:0011:15 (US Eastern)
  • 11:1511:45 (US Eastern)
    • Utsuge and Nakige in the Dating Sim Genre: Why is There So Much Death in my Dating Games?Mar Ferreri
      (Theater – remote presentation)
      Utsuge and nakige are two subgenres of visual novels that focus solely on making the player feel sad (the former focuses on being depressing as a whole, while the latter focuses on making players cry). Surprisingly, these subgenres tend to show themselves often inside dating sim/romance games, with many of the well-known dating sims in the West (Doki Doki Literature Club, Hatoful Boyfriend, etc.) being examples of this trend. The question I want to explore, to put it simply, is why?
    • First Person Talkers: Simulating ConversationGeoffrey Golden
      (Room A)
      Can we talk? In discussion of “talking simulators” – defined here as games centered on 1-on-1 conversations between player and characters from a first person perspective – I will break down mechanics (text input, dialogue options, timed response) and artistic techniques (relatable characters, subtext, character eye contact) used to gamify conversations and forge emotional bonds between character and player.
    • Game Arts Education: Bridging Narratology and LudologyShaun Foster
      (Room B)
      Dive into two the intersections between critical fields in game studies; narratology and ludology. Narratology focuses on the structure and content of stories, examining how narratives are crafted and how they impact the audience. Ludology, on the other hand, studies games, action, events, and gameplay, emphasizing the mechanics, rules, and player interactions that define the gaming experience. By blending these two disciplines, we argue for a more holistic approach to game design.
  • 11:4512:00 (US Eastern)
  • 12:0012:30 (US Eastern)
    • Genre As A Lens: A Holistic Genre-Driven Approach to Game Narrative AnalysisHélène Lupa
      Game genres are frequently bifurcated between mechanical genres (“third-person shooter”) and narrative or aesthetic genres (“science fiction”). The undeniable interplay between these two factors goes unaddressed. By using genre as a tool to talk about how certain aesthetic, narrative, and mechanical tropes make players feel, we learn more about how narrative games function and how to enrich our own craft.
    • Between the Story and the World: Better Interactive WorldbuildingBen Schneider
      (Room A)
      World-building for interactive storytelling is a different beast than its linear counterpart. In traditional, linear narrative, all setting comes to us mediated through the story (okay, and sometimes through a lovely map in the end-papers). Interactive narrative, on the other hand, lets us get right up in-between. This difference makes some things harder, some things more powerful, and it definitely makes good world-building a lot more important.
    • Teaching IF: or How to Talk Into a Classroom with a Bunch of Red Balloons and Walk Out With a StoryDeena Larsen
      (Room B)
      How do you convey the multiplicities of possibilities within an interactive fiction or an electronic literature/hypertext/new media piece? How do you get students to write multi-linearly? On the first day of a Digital Storytelling course, I walked into the classroom talking to a bunch of red balloons, whom I named WinSton U. Victory. WinSton stole the limelight and became quite the character, which the class had to write about.
  • 12:3013:30 (US Eastern)
  • 13:3014:00 (US Eastern)
    • Building Empathy Through Interactive Fiction in the Video Game Peaceland: Choose Your MemoryM. Kristana Textor, Josh Stead-Dorval, Marcia Byron Hartwell
      What is empathy if not seeing the world through someone else’s eyes? Peaceland: Choose Your Memory is a video game set in a fictionalized country recovering from a conflict that took place decades ago. These narrative memories are drawn from testimonials and documentation of real events based on research, teaching, and observations collected during a 2022-23 Fulbright Scholar grant in Kosovo. We will share how to incorporate sensitive information with interactive narrative arcs while working with multiple collaborators.
    • Stories to Get Us Through the Night: An Experiment in Using Branching Narratives for TheatreIsabelle Smith, Erin Gray
      (Room A)
      Stories to Get Us Through the Night is an interactive play about a group of storytellers at the end of the world. Audience members are given candles, and there are two points in the story where the audience is asked to illuminate or extinguish them, resulting in four distinct possible endings. I will explore the skills I used as a writer and a game designer to craft the script, and also the strategies I’ve learned as a theater maker that allowed me to create an immersive, live, and communal experience.
    • Let’s Keep Talking About Collecting Narrative Games in LibrariesColin Post
      (Room B)
      While libraries have long collected games released on physical media (CD-ROMs, cartridges), the vast majority of narrative games today are released through digital platforms. Librarians have frameworks in place for collecting other kinds of digital-only media like ebooks and streaming video, but there are currently no real solutions for libraries interested in collecting digital games. I will report on the findings from recent research done to better understand the needs and expectations of both librarians and indie game developers interested in building digital game collections in libraries.
  • 14:0014:15 (US Eastern)
  • 14:1514:45 (US Eastern)
    • Teaching About Mental Illness through PlayTim Rattray
      (Theater – remote presentation)
      Games including Omori, Celeste, What Remains of Edith Finch, Depression Quest, and beyond have used interactivity to express the experience of living with mental illness. I will make the case for why allowing people to play and make choices from the perspective of characters living with mental illness is a critical path forward for mental health awareness.
    • Germinating Playwriting from The Quiet YearWill Lowry
      (Room A)
      One of the biggest challenges for students in an introductory playwriting assignment is the barrier of simply getting started. However, storytelling through narrative play does not seem as daunting to many. In my Geek Theatre first year seminar, one assignment works around the fear of the blank page by using Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year as a launchpad for creating original theatrical work. I’ll share the model for running The Quiet Year in class, the process of getting from playthrough to play, and reflections on the strengths and drawbacks of the format.
    • It’s Still Too Complicated: Developing a Storytelling Game System for Low-Resource ClassroomsScott Nicholson
      (Room B)
      One of the great challenges in game design is to make something simpler. Over the last few years, I’ve developed EscapeIf, an open-source system designed to help teachers in low resource classrooms run a branching narrative game using only a chalkboard, found objects, and a script. I will talk through the iterations of EscapeIF and what I’ve learned as a designer in working with teachers in low-resource environments, facing the assumptions that we make when designing games, and what to do when “It’s Still Too Complicated!”
  • 14:4515:15 (US Eastern)
  • 15:1516:15 (US Eastern)
    • Hope in the TranscendentalAlexander Swords
      (Theater – remote presentation)
      The Transcendental Form offers an alternative way of approaching structure for interactive narrative experiences. It’s less intricate and demanding than the hero’s journey and bypasses the foundation of conflict found with most depictions of the three-act structure. It started with the transcendental style in film and has been developed over the past four years to help us create Totem Teller, a narrative experience based on transformation, aesthetics and compassion.
    • The IFTF Grants ProgramVincent Bondy
      (Room A)
    • A Game Design Analysis of Improv TheaterMatthew Vimislik
      (Room B)
      Improv is a form of theater where actors on stage improvise narrative scenes and scenarios on the spot, and has grown into a discipline that’s trained generations of comedic writers and actors. Its influence can be seen from “Critical Role” to “Homestuck” to “Cards Against Humanity”. By analyzing improv through a Game Design lens, we’ll go over the dynamic shift in improvised theater from commedia dell’arte to modern theater sports, and what has made this latest iteration successful over the past fifty years.
  • 16:1516:30 (US Eastern)
  • 16:3017:30 (US Eastern)