Library Partners with Gamercamp on Video Game Writing Workshops
On Saturday, October 27, the library is hosting two video game writing workshops at North York Central Library, Room 1.
The first workshop, from 1 to 2:30 pm, gives participants an overview on writing for video games. Participants in the second workshop, from 3 to 4:30 pm, will learn about video game journalism and the skills of writing about or critiquing video games.
The workshops are free to attend. Anyone 15 years or older are welcome to register.
These workshops are presented in partnership with Gamercamp, a festival that spotlights video game culture and the people behind the games. This year’s festival takes place November 3 and 4.
In anticipation of these workshops, I asked Gamercamp Festival Director Jaime Woo to share his thoughts on how video games and libraries complement each other, how video game storytelling has evolved over the years, and which literary work he would love to adapt into a video game.Why did Gamercamp approach the library for this partnership?
I think anyone who likes games is a fan of ideas in general and can find
inspiration no matter the medium. The library is one of my favourite places to
visit, because once you step through the doors, there's an endless supply of
ideas at your fingertips with the books, films, and music. So partnering with
the library made perfect sense to me.
Do video games complement reading and literacy?
Yes, absolutely! Some improve reading and literacy in a direct sense, such as the word puzzle game SpellTower, which is sort of like Boggle but made more complex. Other games use language as one tool to communicate to players, with text players must read and comprehend to be successful.
I think people would be surprised
how much reading is involved in popular games like Skyrim or even Mario Party.
Some of the choices that have to be made in these games are quite involved and
require readers to firmly grasp how language works.
How has video game storytelling changed over the years and where do you see it headed?
Video game storytelling was very much rooted in mythology and lore, especially modernized versions like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. As the medium has evolved, the stories have become more diverse, encompassing broader subjects.
Papo & Yo, for example, is about a son dealing with his abusive and alcoholic father by creating a magical realist world, and shades of Gabriel Garcia Marquez are quite evident.
I think as more people learn to
create games and see it as a form of self-expression, we will see more personal
stories, rather than always trying to save the world.
More and more libraries are introducing gaming programs. Some libraries even have gaming collections. What’s your take on this movement?
I think this makes perfect sense. Games are an interactive art form that can house very interesting ideas. Some games may be juvenile, but so are some books, or films, or music.
I applaud libraries with gaming
collections, because they are actively thinking about the meaning of libraries
in a contemporary setting. When the Museum of Modern Art or the New York Times
are actively showing games and giving them a space along other media, why not
If you could pick a book to be made into a video game, which book would it be and how would you develop the game play and story?
One of my favourite authors is Alice Munro. I would love to see her short story "The Bear Came Over The Mountain" (the inspiration for Sarah Polley's film "Away From Her") made into a video game. It's not an obvious choice but I like the ideas of memory, loneliness, and forgiveness and think they could be explored in a fascinating manner through a game.
I would have the player control both Grant and Fiona, not just in the present, but through slices of their lives in the past. We can see Grant and Fiona as they began and throughout their marriage (and all of its strains) and the choice to move away after Grant strays and begs for forgiveness all the way up to when Fiona is brought to the nursing home and finds a new lover.
I would allow the player to make all the choices in this couple's live and some of it will affect their present, some will not. Some choices the player will make would actually happen, but some would just be re-imagined memories.
The game would tell variations of the same stories but inevitably end up the same: a statement on our different recollections of our past identities will colour our present, and that even when we have the same present, what we get from it entirely depends on our perspective.
In writing this, I love the idea so much, I may just have to make it!
Photos Courtesy: Gamercamp