Emily Short-11.jpgTo reach me without commenting here, email me at 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’m an Oxford-based consultant working on interactive narrative and narrative AI. My main practice is with Spirit AI, where I am product manager on the Character Engine.

However, I do sometimes do other consulting work. In practice, this means:

Writing. I write full-sized text games, as well as content for non-text games; besides the solo work listed in my portfolio, you can find a number of my stories in Fallen London and Sunless Sea (WGGB-nominated for best writing in a video game). I have written advertising games, including Ultimate Quest, part of a campaign for Nvidia via AKQA. I also do white-label work and have built projects such as a short single-player ARG-like to engage players with the archives of the client’s magazine. While I have a particular style for my own work, I’m adaptable and can work in other flavors and formats for clients.

Engine Design. I’ve worked with Telltale Games on a procedural narrative research project. I was one of the principal designers of the AI-agent-driven Versu project. I’ve contributed thousands of hours to the development of Inform 7. I’ve written in, critiqued, and taught many other interactive narrative systems as well; and have spoken at about general principles of tool design learned from those projects (slide deck here). Consulting in this area may currently be a conflict of interest with my Spirit AI work, so availability is limited at the moment.

Project Consulting. I can look at your materials in development and give you feedback on your game’s story and mechanics; I can look at your design docs and suggest anticipated issues and resources you may not have considered so far. Depending on the scale of these tasks, this kind of work can start at a half-day rate for materials review followed by an hour-long Skype meeting, or it can be a much more extensive conversation.

I’ve occasionally provided paid coding assistance in specialist IF languages.

Even when I’m not available for new work, I 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, feel free to get in touch and I’ll try to offer some recommendations.


From time to time I give talks or workshops, or attend other people’s. My past and upcoming talks are listed on my Talks page, and video or slides are available for many of them. I also sometimes do workshops; here are descriptions of what I’ve done in the past. My time for this kind of work is currently limited.


If you have a coding question about Inform 7 or other technical aspects of interactive fiction, I strongly encourage you to post that question to a public forum such as the intfiction forum rather than emailing it directly to me. You’ll probably get a faster answer, and definitely get a chance to make contact with a very cool user community.

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 a huge number of routes to making a full living wage just by writing IF — but as and when there are jobs, we often talk about them there, and you will find sympathizers. Of course, if you’re writing specifically for an existing studio/publisher, they may well have their own forums. I have also 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.

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.


I tweet occasionally, 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.


Occasionally someone contacts me to ask about contributing in support of my freeware and free writing. I do not currently solicit donations for myself. However, if you’re moved to contribute something, these are worthy purposes, either in general or for the support of IF:

  • DonorsChoose provides classroom materials to high-poverty schools in the United States. I maintain a page of projects I’m interested in, especially (but not exclusively) focusing on literacy and STEM-related subjects, and teachers who have not received previous support.
  • GiveWell lists several high-effectiveness charities, primarily concerned with health and poverty alleviation in developing countries. In terms of short-term reduction of suffering, these may make the biggest difference per dollar.
  • The IF Technology Foundation gives grants to help make IF more accessible and to maintain vital parts of the IF infrastructure. This money does not go towards commissioning new work directly, but does help support the community’s needs, archives, and tools in general.
  • Sub-Q Magazine edits and pays for interactive fiction, and needs a budget to keep going. This money goes towards commissioning new work and bringing authors of traditional SFF together with technological support.