Contact and FAQ

Emily Short-11.jpgYou can email me at emshortif@gmail.com. Please use a meaningful subject line: I delete spam aggressively. I do try to answer email in a timely fashion, so if you get no response after a week or more, feel free to ping to make sure the message got through.

Twitter DMs tend to be a little more erratic — for some reason, my client doesn’t always seem to ping me correctly when something new has come in.

I tweet, including updates when I post new blog content, information about IF news and conferences, etc. It is not primarily a personal chat account. Often the links that appear in my month-end roundup are things that I have already tweeted about during the month. You’re welcome to follow if you like.

A little more guidance about specific areas in which I get a lot of email:

Publicity Requests

I’m often willing to spread the word about new IF games, book releases, meetups, game jams and competitions. (There are exceptions; this is obviously always at my discretion.)

At a baseline, what I will do is schedule a link to the project in my next link roundup. These are published the 15th and the last day of each month. If you’d like to coordinate a blog post with a specific game release date, I am sometimes able to do that as well, but it helps to have as much warning as you can afford to give me.

With very rare exceptions, I do not cover Kickstarter/other crowdfunding projects until they are actually live — so if you send me an email saying “I’m doing a Kickstarter in a few weeks, can you write about me?” the answer will be “contact me again when there’s something I can actually send readers to look at.”

If you’re doing a paid game release, please feel free to send itch/Steam/iOS keys and screenshots, just as in a standard press release; I may or may not have time to use them, but I appreciate the offer and will at least take a look whenever I can make time. I do not have Windows or Android availability and will not play games that are available only on those systems.

Consulting Availability

I’m an Oxford-based specialist in interactive narrative and narrative AI, employed by Spirit AI, where I am product manager on the Character Engine. In the past I have sometimes done contract game writing as well as consulting work on tool and engine design. I am not taking on new clients at this time.

I do maintain an active engagement with games writing and hobbyist interactive fiction groups and keep a list of freelancers who work in this area. If you have a project and are seeking someone to work on it, I can try to offer some recommendations. If you’re London-based, attending an IF meetup is another way to meet potential contractors.

Talks and Workshops

My past and upcoming talks and workshops are listed on my Talks page, and video or slides are available for many of them.

My time for this kind of work is currently limited, so I am focusing on advanced-level talks rather than introductions to interactive fiction or IF tool workshops. There are many other people who do introductory workshops — I often list some on my Twitter feed and/or link roundups, so you might be able to find a suitable local speaker by checking out events I’ve circulated in the past.

Mentoring

Students. I get requests a few times a year from students who want me to mentor them through a project in interactive fiction — often because their teacher or professor has told them to get a mentor from their industry of choice. This is time-consuming task for me, and it’s not always clear that it yields useful results for the students; in some cases I’ve spent hours on feedback that was unacknowledged, and in other cases it has felt like I was doing work that was really the job of the teacher of the course. My current policy is that I take on only a couple of these tasks a year, and only if (a) the student is advanced and self-directed or (b) I have heard from the teacher/professor about the expectations of mentorship and the nature of the program.

In general. I occasionally work with people looking for some professional guidance in the game writing space. These spots are currently occupied.

Interviews

Press. If you are press reaching out to talk about my work with Spirit AI, it’s best to contact us through Spirit’s webpage. If you’re interested in a discussion about my personal work or interactive fiction, my personal email address is best.

Students. If you are a student who has been told by your professor to interview a professional in the games writing field, I have limited resources to help with this kind of homework project. I also think it is a little unfair of your professor to make your grade contingent on someone else doing some last-minute, unpaid work for you. I sympathize, but I probably cannot help.

Podcasts/personal blog interviews. I have time for this fairly rarely. When I do, it is usually for things that either have an established readership or where I have a personal connection to the blogger/podcaster or the subject matter.

Advice

Technical assistance. If you have a coding question about Inform 7 or other technical aspects of interactive fiction, I encourage you to post that question to a public forum such as the intfiction forum rather than emailing it directly to me. I am not able to provide coding help via email.

Hint requests. If you have a question about an old game of mine, the intfiction forum may be able to guide you, or — depending on what it is — IFDB may have a walkthrough for you.

Access to my old games no longer online. To the best of my knowledge, there is no working way to play BEE or any of the Versu games, including Blood & Laurels. I cannot help you find working versions or get them set up. (Exception: If you are a JavaScript genius and feel like volunteering your spare time to look at the BEE content dump because you want to try to get it running again, let’s talk — but shy of that I’m unable to assist you.)

Feedback on a game, tool, or project that you are working on. Unfortunately, I get asked for a lot more of this kind of help than I’m able to provide. Here is an article I wrote about tool development advice, and mailbag posts answer questions submitted by other readers that I thought might be of general interest. If you have a general advice question that hasn’t already been addressed on the site, I am sometimes able to answer those as additional mailbag posts; no guarantees. (If you’re willing to have your question answered as a mailbag post, feel free to say so in the body of the email.)

As a rule, I’m not able to look specifically at your new tool/concept/game and give feedback. Doing a good job on this for even a tiny project is the work of several hours. I do sometimes run tool-focused sessions at the Oxford/London IF Meetup, and that offers a specific context to get feedback from a group of IF authors.

Suggestions for games to play or tools to use; requests for bibliographies or research. This kind of request can be time-consuming to answer and often is replicating information that already exists at your fingertips via Google or existing communities. To find games of a particular type, you’re usually best off going to IFDB or soliciting suggestions on the intfiction forum. IFDB has tags that let you look for particular qualities of games, as well as the capacity to set up a poll and ask for community suggestions.

If you’re looking for information on IF history, I have made a post of bibliography resources. If you’re thinking of running a jam, competition, or anthology and want to know about past work on those, this post contains input from dozens of competition and jam-runners on what worked and what didn’t.

Tools in the IF space are frequently updated, but you can find many of my posts about them in the Creation Tools category. Likewise, if you want book recommendations (or anti-recommendations), the Books category may be useful.

Occasionally if there’s a very specific question that I feel is not well covered elsewhere I will do a mailbag post on it. But please do your own initial research before emailing me.

Advice about career or sales matters. I have written a couple of posts about getting hired in generalhow this works out for me, and how I set rates for projects, which may be useful to people starting in this area. As above, if you have a general question, I can sometimes answer it as a mailbag post.

If you have a question about writing IF for money, there are a number of people who do so (in some form or another) who hang out at the euphoria &if forum. I cannot advise anyone to quit their day job to start down this road — it’s precarious and there aren’t many routes to making a full living wage just by writing IF — but as and when there are jobs, euphorians often discuss them, and you will find sympathizers. Of course, if you’re writing specifically for an existing studio/publisher, they may well have their own forums.

This Script Lock podcast talks about how I got into interactive fiction and a bit about my transition into writing for games, as well as a large number of other topics.

Market research about IF. I’m getting more and more email from businesses asking me for detailed insight into IF’s market size and business practices, marketing advice, etc.  Often these requests require non-trivial research on my part to answer. I now regard this as a professional consultation and may respond by quoting rates.

My opinion on a random topic. If this is a question I find intriguing and of general interest, and I happen to have time, I might Mailbag it, but otherwise I can’t always answer this kind of thing.