Mid-September Link Assortment

From “Design/Play/Disrupt” at the Victoria & Albert

Entries for IF Comp are due the end of this month.

From Now – February 24, 2019, the Victoria and Albert Museum is featuring an exhibit on contemporary video games. I saw this on a preview night, and it is terrific — so much so that I feel like I need to go back because I didn’t take it all in on the first visit.

Some of it is a picture of the process and considerations of design, with notes and concept art from games all along the indie/AAA spectrum. Some is a reflection on the social context of games and the voices of the people who make and play games: a room full of video clips and thoughtful statements from folks I’ve often linked on this very blog. The third section is about esports — about the size and the spectacle. Where the design section feels intimate and draws you in to look closely at small and intricate objects, the esports room has you to sit down below a huge curved screen playing footage of a match in South Korea, in a position that commands awe. But then the exhibit gives you your agency back again: the final section is a Babycastles-affiliated room with an arcade box where you can play QWOP (among many other things).

It is the first exhibit about video games I’ve seen at a major institution that felt like it was about the video games I know, not purely as a nerdy curiosity or as a commercial phenomenon (though there’s plenty of commercial work there), but for their culture, their design, their power to attract and connect people.

Along with many many other people at different times, I had a small advisory role in giving input on this exhibit, but at the time I was blown away by the thought and care going into the design, and the final result is better than I could have imagined. If you’re in London and can spare the exhibit fee, do check it out.

September 19 is the next Boston IF Meetup.

September 22 is the next Baltimore/DC Are IF Meetup, discussing Kevin Gold’s Choice of Magics.

October 6 is the next SF Bay IF Meetup.

October 6 is the Oxford and London gathering to play games from IF comp.

Also October 6-7, Roguelike Celebration is coming up in San Francisco — this is obviously a bit different from IF material, but there’s some interesting procedural storytelling work that comes up in this space. This year their speakers include Tarn Adams, Pippin Barr, and Max Kreminski, all people who have turned up on this blog/in IF circles before.

October 19-28 is the submission window for the fifth annual PROCJAM, seeking entries for generative software.

October 20 is the Oxford and London workshop in the Ren’Py tool for building visual novels.

October 22 is the deadline for Saugus.net’s 21st Annual Ghost Story Contest.  They accept both traditional prose entries and IF.  Official rules can be found here.

November 10-11, AdventureX will return, this time at the British Library. AdventureX is a conference focused on narrative rich games, whether those are mobile or desktop, text-based or graphical; it’s grown significantly in size and professionalism over the last couple of years. (Incidentally, they’ve published their exhibitor list and it’s pretty sweet.) At the time of writing, weekend passes and Saturday passes are sold out, but there are still a few places for Sunday.

December 2 is the deadline for entering the Russian Language IF competition KRIL.


playing smart.jpg

New Releases

Julian Togelius is releasing his new book Playing Smart, which explores the evolving relationship between games and AI.  The book comes out on November 6 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

inkjam is over, and there are some 60 different entries using the tool, all on the theme “It’s Not What You Think”.

Bonus non-interactive book recommendation: Stay with Me by Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo. I bought this for a plane flight and found it compulsively readable: it’s a story of a marriage in difficulties, and the surrounding family and cultural expectations that affect it.

Articles and Podcasts

Articulation Points by Mark Bernstein.

Cooper Stevenson has put together the first issue of a new IF magazine called Discoverer’s Digest.

I was interviewed.


The Colossal Fund is raising money for IF Comp prizes this year, and also to support the regular work of the IFTF — including archive support, Twine development, and accessibility improvements for interactive fiction games and tools.


Mythaxis is seeking IF to include in its upcoming February 2019 issue; however, it does not pay.


Pixelberry (the studio behind Choices) is hiring, including for a senior writer with interactive fiction experience and published titles.

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