Talk at Jornada Nacional de Literatura


View of the technical check, with Alabaster on screen

The Jornada Nacional de Literatura is a big festival/conference with a lot of different aspects: aside from the workshops, there’s a children’s program with multiple activities going on at any given time during the day, and kids are bussed in from the schools; there are academic conferences and summits for local Brazilian writers; there are displays by local artists, sculptors, and photographers; a big area devoted to shops by different publishers; and a sequence of afternoon and evening panels aimed at adults, including scholars, writers, and members of the general public. It’s a hugely energetic and fascinating environment.

In addition to the workshop on interactive fiction, I was asked to participate in a panel on art and media convergence. At the beginning of this panel they played a video on interactive fiction created by Nick Montfort, which discussed the history of the medium and some recent directions in it. For my own talk, I aimed for something that would be accessible to a broad audience and would address some of the themes that had already come up during the other panels and talks — especially the generational shift towards interactive learning discussed by Wim Veen the first night, and discussions (and doubts) about the aesthetic potential of art created via computer or in collaboration.

So I talked about interactive storytelling in general: my argument that it’s a medium still very much in development, that it will one day be a high art form, but that to do this it will need to mature in its own directions rather than taking existing literature or game forms as a strict template. To illustrate the possibilities, I briefly discussed Photopia and Fate, making the case that each provided a meaningful and human experience that would be impossible in the same form without the interactive element. I also mentioned (though briefly, because pressed for time) some other projects in interactive storytelling that suggest a wide-spread interest in the possibilities from academics, gamers, and writers: Façade, Fatale, We Tell Stories.

It was, necessarily, a very general overview of why interactive storytelling is interesting, with an emphasis on contributions from IF specifically, but it seemed to go over well, and I got some very positive feedback afterward.

I don’t know exactly how many people attended: the tent in which it occurred can seat 5000, but was certainly not full. Still, a considerably bigger audience than I’ve spoken to before.

One thought on “Talk at Jornada Nacional de Literatura

  1. I’m really enjoying this series of posts, I look forward to everything you can manage to write about. Brazil seems a lot like the U.S. in its multiplicity of cultures and art practices, I wonder what a comparison of interactive media from the two countries would look like.

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