Several Small Things

  1. This was effectively true some time ago, but the IF Cover Art Drive is officially finished and closed and over now, in the sense that I have taken down the flickr page. In the unlikely event that anyone reading this (a) got my email about their cover art and (b) really wanted to answer and accept it but (c) has been trapped under a big log for the last five months, you can email me — I still have a copy of the submitted art on my hard drive. But I’m assuming we’re done now.
  2. We draw near to the opening of IF Comp 2008! Now is a good time to donate prizes. (No, I’m not entering this year myself. I just thought I’d mention it, because a couple of people have floated interesting prize ideas in my hearing in the past few months but, er, I’ve forgotten who some of you were. So: generic reminder.)I am donating a copy of Second Person, which has great and provocative stuff to read by Jeremy Douglass, Nick Montfort, G. Kevin Wilson, Steve Meretzky, Chris Crawford, the authors of Facade, and others.

What, no game criticism?

Over on Play This Thing!, Greg Costikyan has posted a critique about the lack of game criticism — as opposed to game reviews — in the industry as a whole.

I thought this was pretty interesting, because it hadn’t previously occurred to me as a problem. It’s true that I don’t see a lot of criticism of mainstream games myself, but then, I don’t own a console or a Windows computer, don’t play most of these games, and don’t regularly read the relevant websites and magazines. So I assumed this stuff was out there somewhere, even if I never ran across it. (And, in fact, several of Greg’s commenters argue it does exist.) But this got me thinking about the situation in IF.

Continue reading “What, no game criticism?”

Jeremy Douglass’ Dissertation

on interactive fiction is now available. Jeremy was kind enough to let me read a draft a few weeks ago, and I found it quite enlightening. The introductory chapters, where he re-evaluates the timeline of IF and discusses the role of academic criticism in studying new media, I found pretty convincing.

More challenging is his argument that the term “player character” should be abolished entirely, on the grounds that it conflates several different kinds of relationship that the player can have with the characters in the game, and that using the terminology makes it unnecessarily hard for us to distinguish those different functions. I’m not sure whether this will change anyone’s long-held habits, but the argument is intriguing and worth a read.

Finally, Douglass offers several extended readings of specific works of IF, and especially a very long analysis of Andrew Pontious’ Rematch. This is great stuff, and I haven’t seen much IF criticism like it.

The book is not a small one and will take some time to go through, but it’s worth the attention. If at some point I come up for air from other tasks, I may address the substance of it at more length here — we’ll see.

In the mean time, congratulations to him for finishing, and thanks for making it available for everyone to read!