Programme announced for Beyond the Console: Gender and Narrative Games

Beyond the Console: Gender and Narrative Games

8 / 9 February 2019, at the V&A and London South Bank University, UK

The safer spaces policy here.

The Centre for Research in Digital Storymaking at London South Bank University is organising a two-day conference to showcase and explore narrative games through the experiential and critical lens of gender. From tabletop live roleplay to mobile apps with user story creation platforms, from interactive performance to interactive fiction, narrative games create vibrant participatory communities. Since their modern incipience, narrative games are also contestedly gendered. Little Wars, a live roleplay strategy game book by H.G. Wells (1913) is subtitled: ‘for boys and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books’. Yet in the networked age, narrative games have also opened up a diversity of stories. Open source authoring tool communities empower personal game authorship (Twine, since 2008); classic game genres, such as live table top games, are reconfigured as journeys of becoming (Monster Hearts, 2012); commercial mobile apps place ‘Hollywood-calibre stories’ of melodrama at the centre of their social media games (Episodes, 2014); live action role play games (LARP) reflect and incorporate gender neutrality in their immersive game design (College of Wizardy, 2018); while interactive performances invite audience members to play at being a different gender (Disaster Party, 2017).

Keynote Speakers


Porpentine                                                             Emily Short                                 Hannah Wood



Conference Programme:

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Elephant Studios, London South Bank University

9.30 am   Registration, Coffee and Welcome [Elephant Studios Concourse]

10 am   Panel Presentations: The story postGamergate [Studio Space]

Chair: Karlien van den Beukel (London South Bank University)

Paolo Ruffino (University of Lincoln): ‘Parasites to Gaming: learning from GamerGate’

Ana Catarina Lopes (IPCA, Portugal): ‘For Lack of a Better Game: an overview of the age of games jams and personal games’

Gaspard Pelurson (Leeds Beckett University) – ‘Queering Between the Lines: Queer Game Capital in Final Fantasy XIII’

11.20 am   Coffee Break [Elephant Concourse]

11.40 – 1 pm Parallel Panels

Panel A: The body in game narrative [Studio Space]

Chair: Andy Lemon (London South Bank, University)

James Rendell (Winchester University)  ‘Man, Husband, Teacher, Criminal, Father-Figure, Hero, Victim: Representations of Black Masculinity in TellTale’s The Walking Dead and Players’ Intersectional Responses

Agata Waszkiewicz (Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Poland).  ‘Inked, Angry, and Dangerous: The Rhetorics of a Tattooed and Gendered Body.’

Abbie Hartman (Macquarie University, Australia) “The US Military Does Not Condone the Killing of Unarmed Combatants. But This Isn’t Real, So Why Should You Care?” Spec Ops, Call of Duty, and the Developers Who Make Us Care About War.

Panel B: Reading the Player Experience [Newsroom]

Chair: Destina Connor (Tea-Powered Games)

Ralph Dorey (Northumbria University) – ‘There is no reason for you to live: instability, horror and desire in No World Dreamers Sticky Zeitgeist: Episode 2: Aperitif

Alastair Horne (British Library) – ‘80 Days, and a thousand and one stories: reworking the canon through interactive fiction’

Lydia Palmese (Birkbeck University) – ‘Straight Faces and Queer Spaces: A Case Study of Queer Gaming in Dragon Age Inquisition’

1 pm Interactive Demo: Looking for Love [Studio Space]

fanSHEN will share a demo of the first part of their new piece Looking for Love, a personalized digital story, co-written with AI, which is currently in development.

1.30  pm – 2.30 pm Lunch [Elephant Concourse]

Showcase: narrative games, curated by AJ Meakin [MacLab]

2.30 pm Interactive Demo: Generation Stories from Symbols[Studio Space]

 Vivien Mason will share a demo for generating stories from symbols: an interactive player-generated narrative.

3 pm – Panel Presentation: Gender and gamemakers [Studio Space]

Chair: Florenzia Minuzzi (Tea-Powered Games)

Hillegonda Rietveld and Andy Lemon (London South Bank University). ‘The Streetfighter Lady: Invisibility and Gender Role-Play in Game Music Composition’

Kiona Hagen Niehaus (Goldsmiths University) ‘Gendered Limitations in 3D Human Character Creation Tools’

Ed Sibley and Frankie Wakefield (Fusebox Games) – ‘Love Island, the story’.

4.20 pmCoffee break [Elephant Concourse]

4.40 pm – Keynote SpeechHannah Wood (Storyjuice) [Studio Space]

5.40  pm – [Drinks reception] Elephant Concourse

The conference’s Safer Spaces policy follows that of the Oxford and London Interactive Fiction Meetup. The policy can be read here.

The organisers would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for their support and contributions:

Sarah Cole

AJ Meakin

Jim Munroe

Michael Othen

Jo Summers

Emily Short

and David Galopim and Pedro Alves for the artwork

Fusebox Games

Teapowered Games

HandEye Society

Oxford and London Interactive Fiction Meetup

The V&A Museum

The School of ACI, London South Bank University

Conference Organiser: Dr Karlien van den Beukel, Arts and Creative Industries, London South Bank University