English 187A - Winter, 2022

Topics in Literature & Media

Topic: Narrative Game Studio

Class Information

Instructor: Boluk, Stephanie
CRN: 23474
Time: TR 3:10-6:00
Location: REMOTE


This small studio class will explore the concepts, techniques, and effects of writing in narrative games through a series of playful engagements featuring story-driven software by anna anthropy, Brianna Lei, Grace Bruxner, Emily Short, Brendon Chung, Lucas Pope, Christine Love, Leigh Alexander, and Meg Jayanth to name a few. Focusing on text-based game engines like Bitsy, Twine, Inform, and RenPy, students will play story-based games and write game-like stories. The first five weeks will follow a ?Game-a-Week? model in which students will receive introductions to a range of game engines and then produce work using each piece of software. The final weeks of the quarter will be dedicated to a longer-form work in an engine of their choice while continuing to closely play, discuss, and analyze a range of games in order to build literacy in narrative games. This course requires no previous knowledge of game design, but it moves at a brisk pace so come prepared to play games, write about games, make games, and provide generous feedback to fellow colleagues using a range of playtesting approaches. Have fun, try out weird things, and experiment to see what you can do!


*To develop literacy and familiarity with narrative games through close play and analysis of works made by small teams and independent designers.

*To design narrative games using a variety of introductory game engines

*To playtest and offer constructive feedback on the games made in class

*To iterate on a larger project designed for both public exhibition and online publication


1. Game-a-Week (30%) - Lowest grade out of 4 will be dropped:
Game 1: Tiny Choice - Narration (10%)
Game 2: Ren?Py - Dialogue (10%)
Game 3: Twine - Choice (10%)
Game 4: Bitsy or Inform - Environment (10%)

2. Close Playing Journaling (20%)

3. Final Project (40%):
Final Game Pitch (10%)
Final Game Alpha Build (10%)
Final Game Beta Build (10%)
Final Game Publication (10%)

4. Participation: Includes In Class Discussion, Feedback sessions, In Class Close Playing/Game Analysis (10%)
This category involves being present (in multiple senses of the term), asking questions, listening, a