Stagconf 2011

Stagconf was a one-day conference about innovative storytelling in computer games that took place on September 27th 2011 in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.

Here are the recordings of the sessions, sponsored by Storybricks:

The Incredible Shrinking Game

Speaker: Lee Sheldon

From Acorns: Are Interactive Stories Built Or Grown?

Speaker: James Wallis

Getting Narrative From Story- Unfriendly Mechanics: Or, How To Turn Your Blood-Drenched, Bullet- Ridden Carnage Into @#$@#ing Shakespeare

Speaker: Richard Dansky

Interactive Storytelling For Amateurs

Speaker: Stéphane Bura.

Storybricks, the project Stéphane talks about, is on Kickstarter.

Tiny Huge Island: Why Keeping Your Stories Small Is Big News For Your Players

Speaker: Margaret Robertson

Obversations From Experience

Speaker: Hal Barwood

Panel discussion: The future of storytelling in games

Speakers: Hal Barwood, Margaret Robertson, Stéphane Bura, James Wallis

Panel discussion: The current state of storytelling in games

Speakers: Richard Dansky, Lee Sheldon and awesome special guest speaker Sabrina Calvo

The Speakers

We hand-picked our speakers. First of all because we know that they are a blast to listen to, with interesting perspectives and fascinating insights. But second because a common narrative throughout a conference's talks is another form of storytelling.

Lee Sheldon

We don't know anyone who has designed, written and/or produced stories in as many different forms, genres and media as Lee. He has worked on adventure games, MMOs, serious games and ARGs, as well as novels, plays and TV shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and Charlie's Angels. Oh, and he literally wrote the book on character development and storytelling for games.

Lee talked about how writing for games has changed over the years, and the new challenges in writing for social and casual games.

Read more about him

lee sheldon

Richard Dansky

Richard's work goes from being responsible for the writing of all Tom Clancy games at Ubisoft to writing novels to pen & paper role-playing games. We don't know how he does it. However, we do know that he gives kick-ass presentations on storytelling. In this case, about finding story in non-story-friendly mechanics.

Read more about him

richard dansky

Margaret Robertson

Few people have as broad an experience with games as Margaret Robertson, who has worked on a huge range of projects as a developer, consultant, and as the editor of Edge magazine. She is currently exploring the boundaries of storytelling in games, and she talked about what she has discovered.

Read more about her

margaret robertson

Stephane Bura

Stéphane Bura is one of the foremost game design thinkers in the world, and has the enviable skill of being able to absorb psychology, artificial intelligence, literature, computer science and several other topics and distill them into something we wished we'd thought of.

He talked about his current project, which uses a new approach to roleplaying and interactive storytelling.

Read more about him

stephane bura

James Wallis

James Wallis is a legend in the tabletop gaming world, having founded Hogshead Publishing and designed groundbreaking storytelling games Once Upon A Time and The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He talked about emergent storytelling.

Read more about him

james wallis

Hal Barwood

Not only did Hal work on genre-defining graphic adventures like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: before that he spent 20 years writing and directing movies in Hollywood. Hal knows storytelling inside and out, and he talked about the structures of different story forms and how they relate to games.

Read more about him

hal barwood

The Speakers

  • lee sheldon
  • richard dansky
  • margaret robertson
  • stephane bura
  • james wallis
  • hal barwood

Lee Sheldon

Lee Sheldon is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Games and Simulation Arts program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has written and designed over 20 commercial video games and MMOs.

In June Lee's book The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game was published by Cengage Learning. His book Character Development and Storytelling for Games is required reading at many game developers and in game design programs at some of the world's most distinguished universities. A new edition will be published in 2012.

Lee is a contributor to several books on video games including Well-Played 2.0, Writing for Video Game Genres from the IGDA, Game Design: An Interactive Experience and Second Person. He is cited in many publications; and is a regular lecturer and consultant on game design and writing in the US and abroad.

Before his career in video games Lee wrote and produced over 200 popular television shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Charlie's Angels, and Cagney and Lacey. As head writer of the daytime serial Edge of Night he received a nomination for best writing from the Writers Guild of America.

Lee has been twice nominated for Edgar awards by the Mystery Writers of America. His first mystery novel, Impossible Bliss, was re-issued in 2004.

Lee began his academic career in 2006 at Indiana University where he taught game design and screenwriting.

At IU Lee first instituted the practice of designing classes as multiplayer games; worked on the serious games Quest Atlantis and Virtual Congress; and wrote and designed the alternate reality games The Skeleton Chase and Skeleton Chase 2: The Psychic funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and Skeleton Chase 3: Warp Speed funded by Coca-Cola.

He continues as creative director of the narrative-driven MMO Londontown; and is head of the team working to build the Emergent Reality Lab at Rensselaer.

He was design consultant and lead writer on the upcoming casual MMO, Star Trek: Infinite Space; and is currently writing a new Facebook social game for Zynga.

Richard Dansky

Named one of the Top 20 Game Writers by Gamasutra in 2009. Richard Dansky is the Central Clancy Writer for Ubisoft/Red Storm.

With over a decade in the industry, he has credits including Splinter Cell: Conviction, Rainbow Six: Black Arrow, and titles in the Ghost Recon, Far Cry, Might and Magic, and Blazing Angels series.

A member of the advisory board for the Game Narrative Summit at GDC Online and an executive of the IGDA Game Writers SIG, Richard is a strong advocate for the art and craft of writing in games.

In addition to his game writing, Richard has published five novels, most recently Firefly Rain, and contributed to over a hundred tabletop RPG books.

He lives in North Carolina with his mathematically improbable collections of books and single malt scotches. His website can be found here.


Margaret Robertson

Margaret Robertson is development director for Hide&Seek, a game design studio which uses public spaces and digital platforms to make interesting games for interesting people. Her previous role as an independent consultant enabled her to work on a huge range of projects, from AAA console titles, through download and mobile/ handheld games, to indie and art-house projects. She's worked with brands, broadcasters, and film studios to develop their game strategies, and was part of the team that built the BAFTA-award winning game slate which recently earned Channel 4 the Develop Publishing Hero award.

Previously editor of Edge magazine, and part of the team behind the GameCity festival, she is currently a contributing editor for Wired in the UK, and speaks worldwide on game design theory.


Stephane Bura

Stéphane’s career is a result of how intertwined his three passions are: interactive storytelling, artificial intelligence and game design.

He has been a tabletop role-playing game writer for more than 25 years, exploring how worldbuilding and rule design could be tied to create new kinds of storytelling experiences.

Stéphane received advanced degrees in Artificial Intelligence from Paris VI University, where he researched the emergent properties in complex multi-agent worlds. This led him to enter the videogame industry in 1997, at Kalisto Entertainment, first working on AI tools and then as Lead Designer, striving to push the game design envelope using AI and storytelling techniques.

He since has been the Creative Director of 10tacle Belgium, a game design consultant, a level design / worldbuilding teacher, and is now the Lead Designer at Namaste Entertainment. There, he works on an online project with the goal of recreating the tabletop role-playing experience using advanced AI technology. This is obviously his dream job.

Stéphane is also a game design theorist and tries to better understand and formalize the game design process, so as to find new domains in the game design space to explore. His articles on this subject can be found on his website.


James Wallis

James Wallis is the director of UK-based social-gaming start-up Hypergame, a company devoted to 'making social games that are actually social and actually games'.

Previously he was one of the founders of Six to Start, and ran the tabletop-games company Hogshead Publishing for eight years. His storytelling card-game Once Upon a Time (Atlas Games) is a Games 100 title that has sold 250,000 copies, not counting a pirated Chinese edition; and his game of competitive lying The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen has been translated into six languages and was republished by MIT Press.

He is a visiting lecturer in games design at London South Bank University. With his games consultancy Spaaace he has worked for clients like Sony, Hasbro, the BBC and Channel 4, and recently designed a Facebook game for a German pharmaceutical company.

He has also written thirteen books including two novelisations of Sonic the Hedgehog for Virgin Publishing, and has been a magazine editor, TV presenter, Sunday Times journalist, publisher, movie publicist, and ran a specialist games-event management company. In the mid-1980s he set the Guinness World Record for endurance-play of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons at 84 hours, as part of the charity event Dragonaid. He lives in London with his wife and 1D4 -1 children.


Hal Barwood

Hal is a freelance writer and designer providing creative services to game developers through his personal service company, Finite Arts. Previously he was a senior developer at LucasArts, where he wrote, designed, and directed a number of titles, including Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Yoda Stories, and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. For more info, please visit Before Hal began building games he spent twenty years in Hollywood as a writer, producer and director. Among his movie credits are Sugarland Express, Dragonslayer, and Warning Sign.

The Organizers

All of us have a deep passion for storytelling and we all love games. When we first set out to organize the STAG conference, we all agreed that we wanted to create the best experience possible. So we handpicked everything, from the speakers to the location to the catering. Because we want you to meet the speakers, mingle with other attendees, learn, be inspired, and have fun while doing so.

Jurie Horneman

Jurie has been fascinated by storytelling in games ever since he played his first computer game in the 80s. After 20 years in the games industry that fascination is still going strong, which is why he is helping to organize Stagconf. He has worked for companies such as Rockstar Games and is now co-founder and creative director of Mi'pu'mi Games.


Jurie Horneman

Andy Schmoll

Andy likes games. So much so that, at one point in her life, she decided that becoming a game designer was the only way to be fully happy. She believes that games can tell all kinds of stories and evoke all sorts of feelings. When she thinks of designing games, she also thinks of the stories she’d like to tell.


Andrea Schmoll

Harald Eckmueller

In the last two decades, Harald created everything from story-driven boardgames, to Live Action RPGs, to text-adventures on the Amiga. Although few of his ambitions got published, he developed an obsession with innovative storytelling. Currently working in the creative industry, he is trying to prove that good storytelling is essential to every form of communication.


Harald Eckmüller

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