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Independent Games Summit: Unpacking a Narrative Through 1,000 Household Items

Wren Brier  (Creative Director, Witch Beam)

Tim Dawson  (Technical Director, Witch Beam)

Location: Room 2010, West Hall

Date: Monday, March 21

Time: 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: No

Unpacking tells a compelling story of one woman's journey through life through a simple mechanic: taking items out of boxes and finding a place for them to go. With no visible characters, no voice-over and barely any text, this unassuming puzzle game has managed to move many to tears. Through the process of handling every item, players discover a story of passions, heartbreak, friendships, career challenges and more.

In this talk, Unpacking creators Wren and Tim will cover how the story developed with the mechanics, the level that nearly didn't exist, how we made everyone hate a guy for having too much wall decoration, and the narrative techniques and tricks we used to tell a story with a little over 1000 different household items.


Attendees will gain insight into how every element of a game can be used for storytelling, how game mechanics can chart a course for the story itself, and how placing trust in the player can lead to deeper and more empathetic storytelling.

Intended Audience

Narrative designers and game designers looking for more ways to tell a story, and writers interested in less conventional narrative structures. A willingness to think outside the box is highly recommended!