Some of the notable discussions are:

“The Computer as Storyteller: Procedural Narrative”

Games such as Sim City and Black & White use computers to create dynamic, behavior-based story environments. These techniques supplant the outmoded notion of “non-linear” narrative, with its constrained interactivity, in favor of a highly involving system that invites player collaboration and co-creation. This session looks at ways in which the right interchange of code, character and context can be used to create a malleable narrative environment that allows for a diverse array of player influence and involvement in an ongoing narrative construct.

“New Genres”

The word “game” has been broadened to encompass a wide array of interactive entertainment genres that may not fall into the traditional notion of what we think of as a game. New concepts when introduced, if successful and ultimately imitated, tend to define new genres. This session looks at new approaches to interactive entertainment. Explore the work of artists and researchers who are attempting break out of traditional genres and create new directions and definitions for what an interactive game experience can be.

“Narrative Environments: Worlds that Tell Stories”

The early masterpiece Myst helped define the unique craft of visual storytelling through a navigable story space. Since then, Virtual Reality has emerged as a highly engaging narrative medium. Designers of narrative environments will discuss the art of developing dimensional and spatial expressions that suggest story and narrative, as well as how players and virtual characters encounter and unearth the narrative embedded in these environments.

“Self-Authorship: Role-Playing Games and Avatar-Based Worlds”

Role playing and avatar-based worlds are among the fastest growing genres of interactive entertainment. Self-authorship creates new challenges and opportunities as players become creators or co-creators of their own characters and stories in this new form of interactive theater. These movements have also given rise to emergent economies and social structures. Online community members use their self-created avatar worlds to generate new social and economic systems, while denizens of role-playing games are selling characters and goods online for real money. This session looks at both structured and unstructured environments where players create their own characters, roles, worlds and stories.

You can find the entire program here.

Some key speakers include.

Raph Koster, Sony Online Entertainment, Ultima Online, Star Wars RPG

Sean Beaty, Maxis, The Sims

Hal Barwood, LucasArts, Indiana Jones

Warren Spector, Ion Storm, Deus Ex

Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka, Bioware, Baldur’s Gate I/II, MDK2

Matthew Ford, Microsoft, Asheron’s Call

Geoffrey Zatkin, Verant, EverQuest

I’m really interested in what exactly will be said and what the viewpoints are of these individuals on the many subjects. Since I live in Los Angeles myself, I might just make the trek to the discussion, if for nothing else, than to scream out “Piffle!” during Raph’s speech and make a speedy getaway into an awaiting cab which will drive me to Tijuana, Mexico where I will I live in hiding and play MMOG’s under an alias until I wither away and die a lonely old man knowing that I had gotten Raph Koster, that evil, evil man.

Luckily, they had the sense not to invite some people (or at least not let them speak), cause, ya know, listening to grown men ogle and make a fool of themselves is far less entertaining than quality discussions about gaming and its future.