Toiya Kristen Finley

Game Designer, Narrative Designer, Game Writer, and Editor

Nashville native Toiya Kristen Finley is a writer, editor, game designer, and narrative designer/game writer. She holds a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University. With nearly 70 published works, she has 20 years of experience writing in a range of genres, tones, styles, and voices. In 2011, she co-founded the Game Writing Tutorial at GDC Online with Tobias Heussner and served as an instructor in 2011 and 2012. In video games, she has worked as a game designer, narrative designer, game writer, and editor (or some combination of the four) on several unreleased and in-production indie, social, and mobile games for children and general audiences. She co-authored The Game Narrative Toolbox (Focal Press, 2015), a book on narrative design.

Finley is a member of the IGDA Game Writing Special Interest Group’s Executive Board and the Vice President of nonprofit Nashville Game Developers. Most recently, she edited and contributed to Narrative Tactics for Mobile and Social Games: Pocket-Sized Storytelling (CRC Press, 2018). Her current work includes writing and editing for various interactive fiction projects and narrative design and game design for Digital Myths, and she leads the Narrative Tutorial at East Coast Game Conference.


* Pre-Conference Summit, (requires separate registration)

Leaders: Toiya Kristen Finley, Heather Albano, Eddy Webb

Ever been excited to apply for a game writing/narrative design job, but you had absolutely no idea what portfolio samples to send? Have you taken a writing test, only to never receive feedback, so you don’t know how to improve or be ready for the next test?

This year’s Game Narrative Tutorial is all about two things that frustrate even veteran writers: portfolios and writing tests! We’ll look at how to demystify job descriptions, what types of samples you should include in a portfolio, and what employers/clients are looking for in tests and portfolios.

Panelists: Toiya Kristen Finley

Are you new to games and want to write all the things? Ask us a question!

Are you a crusty, old veteran rethinking your career path? Ask us a question!

Ever wonder about *that thing*, but nobody ever talks about it? You can ask us that, too!

The ECGC “Come One, Come All” Narrative Hootenanny is an AUA (“Ask Us Anything”) about writing and narrative design for games and being a storyteller in the industry. This panel of narrative designers and game writers has experience in AAA and indies, they’ve been independent contractors and employed at studios, and they’ve worked on nightmare and amazing projects, and everything in between. For this panel, you bring the content. We’ll provide the answers!

Presenters: Toiya Kristen Finley, Rachel Presser, Alexandra Lucas, Michelle Clough

When we talk about networking, going to conferences, getting secret invites to parties, and joining groups online are some of the things we usually cover. But another major aspect of networking that we hardly ever discuss is speaking at conferences like ECGC.

Giving a lecture, taking part on a panel, leading a workshop—that’s all networking! Presenting at conferences is a great way to introduce yourself to large audiences, reveal your expertise to the industry, and convince people that you’re somebody to get to know and work with.

If you’ve ever thought about submitting talks to conferences, but you’re not sure if you’re ready, this panel is for you. We’ll cover

  • how you determine which conferences to pitch to,
  • how you know when you’re ready to pitch,
  • what to pitch,
  • how to pitch, and
  • how to brand yourself through your talks.