Narratopia is a card game based on ancient traditions of conversational story sharing.

Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors sat around their camp fires, gazed up at the night sky, and told each other stories. Have you ever wished you could go back and visit that world? You can't (yet), but a game of Narratopia is the next best thing.

Get the game

Narratopia is an open source game. It is free to download and redistribute under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

Print and play version Boxed version All files

You can build a copy of Narratopia using your own printer, paper, and scissors.

You can buy a printed, boxed copy of Narratopia (at cost) at, a print-on-demand game manufacturer.

You can translate Narratopia into your own language (or subject area) by editing its source files and creating your own print-and-play (or print-on-demand) version. Look for instructions in the download.

If you need help, or you want me to post a link to your translated version of Narratopia, send me a note.

What makes Narratopia unique?

It's not just about telling stories

You've seen games where each player picks up a card and tells a story. That's not the way people really tell stories. When stories flow in everyday conversation, people exchange subtle signals in a complex dance of negotiation. (It's quite fascinating, really.) Narratopia is based on, and works with, these natural dynamics.

It's built on solid research

Narratopia's gameplay and components are based on decades of published research on conversational story sharing, from Labov and Waletzky's 1960s explorations of "verbal arts" to Norrick's 2010 treatise Conversational Narrative. (To learn more about how Narratopia works with conversational dynamics, click here.)

It's all about you

Most games with a storytelling dynamic focus on the creation and performance of fictional stories. That's fine, but sometimes you'd rather tell your own stories. It can be intensely satisfying to talk about things that have happened to you, not some made-up character.

It's people powered

The energy in a Narratopia game isn't in the game itself. It's in you, and it's in the rituals of conversational story sharing. Narratopia taps into those rituals to help you get started, but you provide the power. That's why every time you play Narratopia you play a new game.

It's as old as humanity

Long ago, people spent a lot of time together weaving dense, complex, fascinating webs of stories. They didn't just consume stories; they remembered, repeated, and connected them. Narratopia challenges us to entertain, instruct, and enlighten ourselves by creating our own webs of stories.

It's for everyone

Narratopia can be as simple as a fun game for family game night. But it can also be used for a number of "serious play" applications, which you can read about below.

Here's a look at what's in the game.

Connection cards help you link stories together.
Question cards give you interesting questions to ask and answer.
Story forms help you remember your stories.
Tokens help you show appreciation and give feedback.
Game forms help you keep an account of the game.
Save your stories in the box and read them again years from now.

Want to read the game's instructions? Click here.

It's more than just a game.

When people share stories for a reason, they put aside discussions of "what is" and "what is best," and they begin to explore "what it's like" to experience events from a variety of perspectives. This is a deeper, more fundamental way of communicating, and it can open up new avenues of imagination and discovery. Below are some of the ways you can use Narratopia to reach your goals.

Get to know each other

Narratopia makes a great ice-breaker at project kickoff meetings, community get-togethers, and other gatherings. Trading experiences can help you get a better idea of where everyone is coming from.

Tackle a problem

Sharing experiences around an important topic (especially one everyone thinks they know very well) can help people discover new ways to address difficult issues.

Find your voice

When you want to get a message across but aren't sure what you want to say, sharing experiences can help you clear away the clutter and get to the heart of what matters.

Pass on know-how

When an expert knows something well but can't explain it well, putting aside formal instruction and simply talking about experiences can help people pass on their knowledge in a more accessible way.

Practice composition

Writing teachers can use Narratopia to help their students practice composition. Because Narratopia works with everyday stories, the practice feels more natural than working from prepared prompts.

Learn a new language

Language teachers can use Narratopia to help their students express themselves in the language they are learning. Sharing stories is a meaningful, relevant, and engaging way to practice communicating in a new language.

Preserve history

You can use Narratopia to create an oral history for your family, community, or organization. Connecting one's own stories with those of other people brings out more varied (and lively) stories than responding to standardized interview questions.

Create change

You can use Narratopia as a story collection exercise for a participatory narrative inquiry (PNI) project. To learn more about how PNI can help your community or organization create positive change, visit