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




Beyond the Console: Gender and Narrative Games

Conference Programme:

Friday, 8 February 2019

Hochauser Auditorium, V&A Museum

1.45 pm – Registration and Welcome

2 pm – Porpentine, a keynote game, introduced and chaired by Emily Short

After the keynote, there is an opportunity to visit the Videogame Exhibition, Friday late opening at the V&A

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Elephant Studios, London South Bank University

 9.30 am – Registration, Coffee and Welcome

 10 am  – Panel Presentations: The story postGamergate

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

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

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

11.30 am   Coffee Break

 11.45 am Panel Presentations: Reading the Player Experience

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

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.’

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

1 – 2 pm Lunch

 Interactive Demos: Play Pieces

 Vivien Mason –  Generating stories from symbols: an interactive player-generated narrative

Fanshen Theatre – Looking for Love: a mobile app interactive theatre piece

A showcase of key narrative games, curated by AJ Meakin

2 pm – Panel Presentations: Gender and gamemakers

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’.

3pm – Coffee break

 3.15 pm Panel Presentations: The body in game narrative

Ralph Dorey (Northumbria University) – ‘There is no reason for you to live: assimilation, disintegration and affect in queer horror games”

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

4.15 pm – Keynote Speech – Hannah Wood (Storyjuice)

 5 pm –  Interactive Panel Discussion

 5.45  pm – Drinks reception

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