Mid-September Link Assortment


September 17 is the next meeting of the People’s Republic of IF at MIT, for those in the Boston/Cambridge area. The website here also features notes from previous meetups.

The 20th annual European GAME-ON® Conference on Simulation and AI in Computer Games is September 18-20 in Breda, The Netherlands.

September 25, the London IF Meetup has a 7 PM talk on interactive and immersive theatre and LARP projects. This will be a densely-packed session with four speakers, talking about work by Fire Hazard Games, Coney and Venice as a Dolphin, and Crooked House.

IF Comp begins properly at the beginning of October, and is still accepting donations to the Colossal Fund as well as donations of prizes of other types.

October 5 is the next meeting of the SF Bay IF Meetup.

October 12, the London IF Meetup gets together to play IF Comp games, starting with contributions created by our own members. We play for much of the afternoon, with someone reading the text and someone else driving interaction, while the audience participates by voting for what we do next. We sometimes get through five games or more in the play time, meaning that participants have played enough to vote in the Comp if they wish.

Indiecade Festival will be in October in Santa Monica, CA.

Ectocomp will be running again this year, with submissions opening October 27, if you’d like to contribute a piece of spooky interactive fiction.

AdventureX runs November 2 and 3 at the British Library — I think it’s already sold out, however, so if you’re attending, you probably already know that.

November 7-8 is Code Mesh 2019 in London.  The conference focuses on promoting useful non-mainstream technologies to the software industry.


Sam Ashwell on how to write a good blurb for a comp game, which may be relevant to a number of people around now.

Chris Martens and Owais Iqbal on Villanelle, a research language for authoring autonomous characters in IF.

Mailbag: Pedagogical Uses of IF in the Classroom

Pardon, may I ask for some suggestions of resources (articles, short essays) about Interactive Fiction in classrooms? Thank you very much.

And then when I asked whether they were looking for IF taught as the subject or as a means to learning other things:

Surely I’m interested in IF used as a pedagogical tool, as broad as possible (in terms of grades, subjects, case history). An introductory (and inspiring!) blog post would be very useful. Thank you!

Interactive fiction has a long history of classroom use at most levels (a little bit of elementary-level use, but then more in middle school, high school, and university teaching). Several researchers have built syllabus materials that make extensive use of IF; have published about IF-related pedagogy; or have given talks and workshops about how to teach using interactive fiction. At NarraScope, for instance, there were some workshops on this topic as well as a panel on IF and education.

I haven’t done much hands-on work with this myself, but here are some links that may be useful in this area:

Continue reading “Mailbag: Pedagogical Uses of IF in the Classroom”

The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (H. Porter Abbott) – Chapters 10-14

The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative is a book I’ve been chewing on now for several months, since it raises a number of issues about how to describe and think about narration but doesn’t (except occasionally and briefly) attempt to apply those terms or concepts to interactive literature. So this series has become less anything resembling a review than a set of responses and observations; although I am still trying to summarize the contents just enough that someone who might not want to read the whole book could come away with a clear sense of its subject matter and purpose.

Continue reading “The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (H. Porter Abbott) – Chapters 10-14”

End of August Link Assortment


September 1 is the deadline if you want to submit an intent to enter IF Comp 2019. (That’s tomorrow!)

PAX West in Seattle features a panel September 2 about building an interactive fiction portfolio and becoming a paid IF author.

September 7 is the next meeting of the SF Bay area IF Meetup.

September 14 is Boston FIG, or festival of indie games, held at Harvard.

Also September 14, the Baltimore/DC IF meetup gets together to discuss Hanon Ondricek’s Cannery Vale.

The 20th annual European GAME-ON® Conference on Simulation and AI in Computer Games is September 18-20 in Breda, The Netherlands.

September 25 is the next meeting of the London IF Meetup, and we will be hearing about live-action interactive narrative experiences including immersive theatre and LARP from several amazing speakers.

Indiecade Festival will be in October in Santa Monica, CA.

New Releases

Greg Boettcher has released an illustrated parser game that debuted in IntroComp 2006. It is now, at last, available from his website, and for a limited time you can also make a charitable donation and receive some feelies as a reward.

Sam Barlow’s Telling Lies is now out, a new FMV/exploration story that is not a sequel but perhaps a conceptual heir to Her Story.

Community and Volunteer Things

Sofia Kitromili is looking to interview IF authors about their experiences creating games and using IF tools. You can contact her any time in the next several months if you would like to speak to her and contribute to her doctoral research.

The Colossal Fundraiser is now raising money for prizes for this year’s IF Comp, as well as to cover the IF Technology Foundation’s other needs and overhead for the year. IFTF supports the IF Archive and other community technology, preserves interactive fiction work and tools that might otherwise be abandoned, and leads accessibility and education initiatives to improve the IF community’s resources.

IntroComp 2019

IntroComp is a recurring competition featuring game ideas that the creators are considering fleshing out into full games. This year’s crop includes a wide variety of styles.

IntroComp is an annual IF competition that invites authors to contribute partial and unfinished works for feedback. IntroComp 2019 is currently in progress, and if you’d like to check out the work here, you too can judge the entries.

Below the fold, some words on a few of the entries that I had time to play — but you may want to try them out yourself without spoilers.

Voting closes August 31.

Continue reading “IntroComp 2019”

Erica (Flavourworks / Sony Interactive)

Erica is an interactive film for the PS4, controlled by a companion app for your smartphone. It bills itself as a thriller: Erica’s father is murdered in a ritualistic way almost at the beginning of the game, and then we pick her story up again when additional murders begin to occur.

The smartphone app lets you control Erica with gestures. Indeed, the first thing you do in the experience is flick a lighter open and start the flame, using swipes of your phone screen. At other moments you might turn a faucet, wipe steam from a mirror, hover over items in a room that you want to interact with, or lead you to shift your focus.

These interactions reminded me of the touch-screen gestures used in Pry, or in The Secret Language of Desire. But I generally found Pry‘s gestural interactivity extremely evocative and focused on communicating a particular feeling or relationship to the events of the story. Erica‘s are a bit more “we’ll have you manipulate this briefcase latch because there just happens to be a briefcase in the story right now.”

At their best, those affective actions are tied into activities where the protagonist might take some time over the activity — opening a box that probably has something awful in it, say — and so, despite the linearity of the structure, the interaction at these moments is contributing something to the viewer’s sense of pace and complicity, in the same way that the forward links in My Father’s Long Long Legs tend to build up apprehension.

Continue reading “Erica (Flavourworks / Sony Interactive)”