American Literature and Culture Section (Department of English Studies, University of Wrocław) and New Media and Popular Literature Section (Department of Polish Studies, University of Wrocław) invite paper abstracts for “Generation BioWare,” a conference focused exclusively on the Canadian developer and their games.
Founded in 1995, BioWare have been responsible for some of the most acclaimed titles in the history of the industry. The studio’s games are famous for multi-layered narratives and complex characters, both of which originated in titles set in the well-established worlds: Faerûn from the Dungeon and Dragons pen-and-paper RPG system and the Star Wars universe. Since their release, Baldur’s Gate (1998), Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000), and Knights of the Old Republic (2003) have enjoyed critical and commercial success and the two franchises have enabled the studio to create its own proprietary worlds in Jade Empire (2005), Mass Effect (2007), and Dragon Age: Origins (2009) as well as to further refine story-telling structures, character writing, karmic mechanics, and worldbuilding techniques.
The positive reception of BioWare titles has been accompanied by the development of a dedicated fanbase, whose general video game literacy was centrally shaped by BioWare’s design decisions and techniques. As a result, BioWare games have come to be regarded as templates for many western RPGs: the recent Kickstarter success of Divinity Original Sin (2014), Pillars of Eternity (2015), and Tyranny (2016) can be partly ascribed to the impact the Baldur’s Gate series had on these titles.
Consequently, BioWare’s impact on the medium as well as the industry can be perceived as nothing short of critical. To address this influence, we would like to create a platform for academic exchange and invite submissions from scholars and researchers across disciplines, including game studies, literary studies, linguistics, fan studies, media studies, sociology, and cultural studies.
Suggested areas of research include but are not limited to: • narratology and character research, • literary and ludological dimensions, • sociology of BioWare games and their fan communities, • BioWare games and classic RPGs, • worldbuilding techniques, • narrative techniques, • gameplay design, • poetics of BioWare games, • ethical and moral issues in BioWare games, • localization and adaptation, • paratextuality and transmediality, • video game market and the evolution of BioWare as a studio, • Interplay, BlackIsle, Troika, and Obsidian as competitors and creators of alternative worldbuilding and narrative techniques, • narrative and character design methods, • visuality and sound in BioWare games.