Photo of Sarah Thorne

Sarah Thorne

Degrees:Ph.D. Cultural Mediations (Carleton University), M.A. Theory and Criticism (University of Western Ontario), M.A. English (Carleton University), B.A. (St. Thomas University)

My research explores how new narrative media transform how stories are told. Through increasingly complex decision systems, augmented, locative, and AI agents, game developers are imagining new ways to create meaningful player experiences that go beyond traditional branching storylines. My dissertation examined a broad selection of games from AAA to independent titles, such as Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide, Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, and Irrational Games’ BioShock series to explore storytelling trends in games.

Research interests: Game Studies, Critical Theory, Psychoanalysis, Transmediation, New Narrative Media, Feminist Theory.

The Shape of Games to Come: Critical Digital Storytelling in the Era of Communicative Capitalism, Carleton University, 2018.

Peer-Reviewed Publications
Perverse and Interpassive Gaming: Enjoyment and Play in Gamespaces.” Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 2018.

The House of the Future: Mediating Open Enclosures.” CSDH/SDCN 2013 Conference Proceedings. Special Issue of Digital Studies 4, 2014.

Book Chapters
“Branching Out: Narrative Decision Systems After BioShock” in Beyond the Sea: Navigating Bioshock, edited by Jessica Aldred and Felan Parker, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018.

COMS 4412: Game Studies (Fall and Winter 2016-Present)
COMS 4410: Mobile Media (Fall 2018)
COMS 4800E: Piracy (Winter 2019)
WGST 4804: Digital Lives in Global Spaces (Winter 2016)

Upcoming and Recent Conferences
“Hey Siri, Tell Me a Story: AI, Procedural Generation, and Digital Narratives.” Electronic Literature Organization (ELO). Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal QC. August 2018.

“Gaming the System: Affect, Agency, and Communicative Capitalism.” Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA). Swinburne University, Melbourne VI, Australia. July 2017.

“Circles of Struggle: Exploring the Limits of Games as Critical Media Theory through Question’s The Magic Circle.” Congress 2017: Canadian Game Studies Association. Ryerson University, Toronto ON. June 2017.

“Imagining the Infinite: Narrative Decision Systems after BioShock.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference. Atlanta GA. March 2016.

“‘Playable’ Games: Toward a Theory of Games as Critical Media Theory.” CGC Play/Rewind. Carleton University, Ottawa ON. March 2016.

“Disrupting Drive: The Beginner’s Guide to Critical Media Theory.” Cultural Transfers: Digital Narratives. Department Talk. Carleton University, Ottawa ON. November 2016.

“Geek U: Following Your Passions in Higher Education.” Panel at the Ottawa Geek Market. Ottawa ON. October 2015.

“Transmediating Horror: Interactivity and Agency in Telltale’s The Walking Dead.” Congress 2015: Canadian Communication Association. University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON. June 2015.

“Beyond the Specular Image of the Avatar: Reintroducing the Symbolic to Game Studies.” Congress 2015: Canadian Game Studies Association. University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON. June 2015.

“’The Bird or the Cage?’: The ‘False Shepherd’ of BioShock (In)finite’s Branching Narrative.” Society for Utopian Studies. Montréal QC. October 2014.

“Narrating Play: Enjoyment and Play in Gamespaces.” Congress 2014: Canadian Game Studies Association. Brock University, St. Catharines ON. May 2014.

“Golden Days, Silver Nights: Designing an Abducted Reality Game.” GRAND 2014. Ottawa, ON. May 2014.

“Narrating Play: Gamers as Authors.” Interface 2014: Transmediating Culture. Carleton University, Ottawa ON. May 2014.

“Interpassive Gaming: Enjoyment and Play in Gamespaces.” Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society Annual Conference. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. October 2013.

“Appending Reality: Fantasizing About Play in Locative Games.” Apps and Affect. University of Western Ontario, London ON. October 2013.

“The House of the Future: Mediating Open Enclosures.” Congress 2013: Canadian Society for Digital Humanities. University of Victoria, Victoria BC. June 2013.

“Running in the Dark: Sound and Navigation in Amnesia: the Dark Descent.” Interface 2013: Creative and Critical Approaches in the Digital Humanities. Carleton University, Ottawa ON. May 2013.

“Paper or Pixel: Transmediating Geoff Ryman’s 253.” Interacting with Immersive Worlds Conference. Brock University, St. Catharines ON. 13 June 2011.

“A (Re)Turn to the Uncanny Home.” Enter the Fray: Theory and Criticism in the Network-Centric World. University of Western Ontario, London, ON. 7 April 2011.