TOTEM TELLER is currently in development and is a glitchy surreal narrative game

A game writer's guide to Melbourne International Games Week 2022

We asked four narrative designers for their recommendations at this Games Week

September 30, 2022 2:30 PM

If you’re a storyteller Melbourne International Games Week is one of the best opportunities to learn from the best, with inspiring events from some of the brightest minds in narrative design, technical writing, journalism and more.

We asked four narrative designers Alexander Swords, Melissa Koven, Anthony Sweet and Ella Lowgren what their picks at MIGW 22 if you want to elevate your craft.

Alexander Swords is a narrative designer working on TOTEM TELLER and author of the Forest Paths method.

  • Narrative Design – Writing for Games workshop (SOLD OUT) - I wish there was room for everyone at the workshop, but I’m afraid it’s fully booked. We’re still encouraging people to email the Australian Writers’ Guild at who are providing this event to be put on the waitlist though as we’ve already had some cancellations.
  • MIGW At The Table - Tabletop role playing games are one of the best ways to experience and learn how to craft interactive story. It’s immediate, fun and there’s usually a guidebook that does half the work for you. The folks at the Australian Roleplay Community will have a bunch of games running via Discord and streaming sessions on Twitch on the 2nd October. There’s also the tabletop area at PAX on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Games For Change Asia Pacific Festival -  I’ve already seen a lot of excitement for some international narrative talks at the Games For Change Asia Pacific Festival. It’s a growing part of the industry with a lot of opportunity for writers to wield their super powers to change the world for the better. There’s also no other opportunities in Australia to find out how interactive stories are being told by other cultures in the region. It’s also in person and free to attend online (looking at you, regional writers).
  • Science Gallery Swarm Exhibit - I’d also challenge writers to go off program and head to the Science Gallery. SWARM is the current exhibit - all about human behaviour, so the good stuff for writers to feed on. From kinetic sculptures to an art game featuring music by Bjork I dare writers to go to that space,  “read” what stories are being told by the artworks, and ask themselves what stories they could tell in this space with no words and no dialogue - a key skill for games writing.

Ella Lowgren  is a narrative designer at Mighty Kingdom who worked on the Australian Game Developer Award nominated YOU WILL (NOT) REMAIN

WYLDE FLOWERS by Studio Drydock

Melissa Koven is narrative discipline lead at Mighty Kingdom who has a passion for combining data with narrative design

  • Storytelling Beyond Words - There are some strong narrative and creative experts conducting this session focused on under-utilised aspects of narrative, including Marigold Bartlett (WAYWARD STRAND), Simon Boxer (RING OF PAIN), Wren Brier (UNPACKING) and Leanne Taylor-Giles (BROKEN ROADS)
  • Queer Games: A Hopeful Future - I've worked with Jess Zammit closely and seen her past panels. She has a real passion and expertise in helping others tell more authentic stories. She is participating in this panel centred on how to explore queer narratives and themes.
  • Game Writing Challenge! - This one is probably outside of some people’s comfort zone but a great option for those who want to get involved in some chaotic narrative prompt activities and see how game writers tick. (Ella - this one sounds super fun, its making a game during a panel)
  • Using storytelling tools for your grant application - This one seems worth noting. Too often the focus of a game writer or narrative designer is nailing down the actual story, but when it comes to pitch decks or grant applications, there isn't enough consideration on how to "sell" that story - why it is unique or fits an audience.
  • Pen Is Mightier Than The Joystick: Writing For & About Games – Ella Lowgren is a huge talent - an excellent narrative designer (witnessed firsthand as a colleague) and also through her contributions to the industry (Gianni – this panel is stacked with excellent people so I’d recommend checking this one out as well)

Anthony Sweet is a narrative designer working on the recently announced SOLIUM INFERNUM and has created new stories in the worlds of Battlestar Galactica and Warhammer 40,000.

What are you checking out this week? Let us know on socials @sifterHQ or head to our discord to join the fun.

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Solium Infernum

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League of Geeks
Release Date:

Wylde Flowers

Studio Drydock
Studio Drydock
Release Date:
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