TEACHING AND SPEAKING
I speak publicly on a variety of topics, including writing and worldbuilding, storytelling in games, diversity and representation, career development, and cultivating positive player and professional communities.
Worldbuilding Out of Bounds (short version)
AdventureX 2019, London
Have you ever had an idea you wanted to explore but been unsure if the story was yours to tell? Does the dictum to “write what you know” apply when you’re creating fictional, even fantastical worlds? How can you create work that respectfully depicts or reflects diverse cultures and identities when you’re a small team or a solo creator, with a singular background and perspective?
This is a condensed, half-hour version of the talk originally given at NarraScope earlier in the year.
Worldbuilding Out of Bounds (long version)
NarraScope 2019, Boston
The Politics of Worldbuilding
AdventureX 2017, London
All art is political, whether or not you intend to “make a statement.” If you don’t create with a clearly articulated perspective in mind, your work is likely to reinforce a host of tropes and implicit assumptions you hadn’t even considered.
NYC3: The State of Gaming in New York City
Playcrafting NYC, June 2019
I joined a panel of local developers to talk about NYC’s unique game development industry and community, breaking in, and more.
IGDA NYC Roundtable: Unions and the Game Industry
I organized and moderated a multi-disciplinary discussion and info session on the topic of unionization for game developers, hosted at the Writers Guild of America, East.
Adventure Games Podcast
In an interview on Bonus Narrascope Episode 5, Francisco Gonzalez and I talk briefly about dialogue editing, narrative design, player expectations, and other aspects of developing Lamplight City and the upcoming Rosewater.
Back Seat Designers
In Season V, Episode 11: “Bechdel Designers” we chatted about some of my favorite worldbuilding topics, including representation in games and how to write more diverse stories.
Square Waves FM
In Episode 43 we talked journals, audiologs, environmental storytelling, story pacing in open worlds, and other aspects of storytelling in narrative games.
I’m available for guest appearances, speaking engagements, and class visits either remotely or in person within the NYC area generally, and other locations depending on timing and travel reimbursement.
Would you like to have me speak on your show, at your event, or in your classroom? Let’s discuss!
I’m an adjunct professor of game design at Parsons School of Design, and I teach occasional classes on game development, writing, and worldbuilding there and elsewhere.
A sample description of my one-day class Writing Immersive Worlds is below. Sign up for the Paperback Studio Quarterly newsletter for notification of upcoming classes and dates.
I’m also available for virtual private sessions, speaking engagements, class visits, and guest critiques.
Writing Immersive Worlds
Worldbuilding is an essential step in developing immersive, compelling stories and games. Even if your game doesn't have characters or a plot, it probably has a world of some kind. How do you create a cohesive, engaging world that feels like a place your players will want to spend time in? And how do you make it fresh and original without rehashing familiar tropes?
In this class, we’ll discuss basic worldbuilding strategies that work for any creative fiction project, as well as some considerations particular to narratively driven and even non-narrative games.
Students will participate in worldbuilding exercises and create their own concepts in the course of the class. Leave your maps and notes for that unfinished epic at home—we'll be starting from scratch and creating something new, so bring a blank page and an open mind.
How much worldbuilding do you need, anyway?
Creating fictional worlds from whole cloth
Worldbuilding for real-world settings
Hitting the books: why research matters and how to do it effectively
Culturally aware approaches to worldbuilding: using tropes intelligently and avoiding stereotypes
Can’t make it to one of my classes? Looking for a personal touch?
Inquire about booking a virtual private session with you or your group to present my class material or cover topics tailored to your individual needs.
Interested in meeting up in person? Check out the calendar for a list of upcoming events I’ll be organizing, exhibiting at, or attending.
Jess Haskins is a game designer, writer, and editor living in Brooklyn. She holds an MFA in Design & Technology from Parsons School of Design, where she also teaches game design. After working at various NYC studios on titles including Hiveswap, Guns of Icarus Online, and Creavures, she founded Paperback Studio to offer creative services for games and other works. Recent projects include detective adventure Lamplight City, language-learning RPG Spywatch Lex, and the forthcoming Western adventure Rosewater. Jess is chair of the IGDA NYC chapter and organizer of NYC Indie Games, a social group for game devs. Her work centers on worldbuilding, forging communities, and exploring new forms of storytelling in games.