GDC Online - Neal Stephenson on narrative, games, and elliptical trainers

All you Neal Stephenson fans out there will be (vicariously) excited that we had the chance to hear him speak briefly today, discussing the role of storytelling in video games, as well as couple of his latest projects. For those of you don't know Stephenson, he's an awesome (forgive the editorial license there) author of epic science fiction novels, best known for books like Snow Crash, Crypotnomicon, and Anathem. If you've yet to read any of his work, I highly recommend it.

In a Q&A session led mediated by Geoff Keighley of Game Trailers TV, Stephenson touched on topics such as the challenges faced by an author making the move to the interactive medium of videogames, his personal experiences with gaming (highlight of the talk: his story of learning to play Halo while working out on an eliptical trainer after being convinced by his wife that he needed more aerobic exercise), and how to create a videogame story that still gives players a sense of freedom. Of particular note what his discussion of the importance of world-building - the creation of a believable, fully-realized world to serve as the backdrop for a story - in both game design and literature. This is one of Stephenson's greatest strengths (and I think critics tend to agree with me here) as an author, and he was happy to see that many game designers have been moving in this direction, creating believable, immersive worlds in which gameplay unfolds.

We also heard about the project Stephenson is actively working on, a serial novel titled The Mongoliad written in collaboration with Greg Bear and several other authors. This is an exciting little project, a "community-driven, enhanced, serial novel that you read with your Web browser, smart phone, or tablet" that represent a fairly major departure from Stephenson's traditional work. Check it out at here. And be sure to look up his latest novel, Reamde, available now.

BONUS: Responding to an audience question, Stephenson listed some his favorite authors. If you're curious to read the authors that inspire Stephenson, check out modern day lesser-knowns like Matt Ruff, Etgar Keret, and Sean Stewart, or classics from Edward Gibbon, Winston Churchill, or Charles Dickens.

GDC Online - Neal Stephenson on narrative, games, and elliptical trainers by Jared Lorince, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

One Response to “GDC Online - Neal Stephenson on narrative, games, and elliptical trainers”

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