Computer games are among the newest vehicles for telling stories and creating virtual worlds. This is the focus of an exhibition at Standford CA which looks at computer games and the narrative that propels them. It will be on view in three galleries through March 28, 2004 and is scheduled to coincide with two related exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco that open in late January 2004.

‘Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences: Storytelling and Computer Games’ lays out the history and cultural importance of interactive simulations, computer games, and video games, proposing that they represent the emerging narrative form and communication medium of the early 21st century. Physical artifacts, a timeline, and video clips will demonstrate how text, graphics, and interactivity have established a narrative framework in computer games. The exhibition will feature the projection of a networked, “massively multiplayer” virtual world, and interactive game stations will immerse visitors in the storytelling aspects of games, while challenging them to contemplate the history and the future of virtual gaming.

The event is sponsored by the Lynn Krywick Gibbons Gallery Exhibition Fund and the Cantor Arts Center members and derives from ‘How They Got Game Project’ at the Stanford Humanities Laboratory, a project establishing a path-finding narrative for the historical and critical appreciation of computer and video games. The guest speakers will be Dr. Henry Lowood, and Casey Alt, respectively Curator for History of Science and Technology Collections, Stanford University Libraries, and graduate student in the Program for History and Philosophy of Science.

A free conference on Friday, February 6, entitled ‘Story Engines: A Public Program on Storytelling and Computer Games,’ presents speakers from the industry and academia, addressing aspects of the role of narrative in computer games. The conference will take place 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium. Space is limited, with open seating and no reservations. Call 650-725-6788 for details.

The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford University campus off Palm Drive, at Museum Way. Call 650-723-4177 or visit the web site