A public conversation with Jim Carpenter, Bob Perelman, Jean-Michel Rabaté, and Nick Montfort, Thursday, April 29, 2004; 6:30-8:30pm at the Slought Foundation, 4017 Walnut St, Philadelphia.
April 28, 2004
Constraints: they run on the PC, I’m guessing requiring a decent videocard, and unfortunately (but sensibly) they require a Playstation controller. And therefore also require an adapter to hook the PS controller to your PC’s USB port. I’m going to buy the adapter for $13 here; if you need a Playstation controller too, on the same site you can get a good one for $20. (Here’s a Google search for more options.)
April 27, 2004
We recently found out Facade will be exhibiting at ISEA2004, as part of the 2-day Baltic Sea Cruise art party. It’s August 15-17, on a ferry leaving from Helsinki, stopping in Stockholm and then continuing on to Tallinn, Estonia. By then Facade should be done, or in the final throes of beta testing, so we hope it will be a good celebration of the project finally wrapping up. Hope to see you there.
ISEA hasn’t yet published the listing of the all the projects in the exhibition, but they say they will soon.
April 25, 2004
I made it to the conference just in time for my own panel, walking in at the minute we were supposed to start and no doubt leaving panel organizer Marie-Laure Ryan quite fretful in the minutes beforehand. Because I was a latecomer to the conference, and tired from my trip, I made it to only one other panel besides this one. And, most bitterly, I didn’t even get to have any Magic Hat. To begin with something relevant, a report on the panel on computer games. The section headings are my own titles, not the official titles of the talks:
Against “Tetris Studies”
Colorado-based independent scholar Marie-Laure Ryan, author of Narrative as Virtual Reality and editor, most recently, of Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling, who has offered comments here at GTxA, spoke about the ludology vs. narratology debate, admitting that she was preaching to the converted, not to the heathens…
Reflections on day two (Friday, April 23) of Narr@tive: Digital Storytelling, by Noah, Nick, and conference co-organizer Jeremy Douglass. The conference was at UCLA in the Hammer Museum.
Noah has the master copy of this document, but I’ll go ahead and post the version I have and he can update it later if he likes Minor updates from Noah’s version of the document have been made…
The keynote address, “Topsight and Pattern Recognition,” was offered by Rita Raley. Works cited included William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and the conspiracy-diagram art of Mark Lombardi; the talk took up the relationship between surveillance and digital narrative…
April 23, 2004
Thomas Lux, the Bourne chair of poetry within LCC, has organized a series of poetry readings, performances and discussions at Georgia Tech. I recently attended a reading and discussion featuring British poet George Szirtes, and the US poet laureate (2001-2003) Billy Collins. Their discussion of their own creative process as poets led me to think about poetry generation, and particularly my discomfort with purely statistical approaches to poetry generation employed by systems such as gnoetry (1 2 3).
It was great to hear George and Billy both read poems and discuss the process of writing poetry, using their poems as examples. One issue they discussed was the problem of finding a balance between revealing and concealing. A poem that conceals too much from the reader becomes private language, something the reader is completely unable to enter. But a poem that reveals too much, that wears all of its meanings on its sleeve, in some sense fails to be poetry, fails to lead the reader to meanings not capturable in everyday language, fails to underlay meaning with mystery. One analogy they used for this was eye charts. On an eye chart, everyone can read the big “E” at the top of the chart. Eventually you get lines that are hard, and then impossible to read. A poem shouldn’t consist of only big Es or tiny small lines, but, like the eye chart, should have layers.
These reflections were written collaboratively by Nick & Noah during the conference using text editor SubEthaEdit; props to The Coding Monkeys for that tool.
Kate Hayles opened the conference with a keynote discussion of “Narrative Bits,” leaving some of us wondering about whether, having just completed her book Coding the Signifier, she is turning from materiality to formalism. …
April 22, 2004
Jill Walker was interviewed by the BBC World Service program The Word on Blog Fictions, along with Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian, political blogger and Stuart Hughes, a BBC journalist who started blogging while he was in Iraq. The interview is currently available in realaudio at the The Word‘s site. While you’re tuning into radio archives online, an April 7th NPR Talk of the Nation show on the politics and economies of virtual communities is also worth a listen.
An article at Wired News, “Playing Games with a Conscience”, begins with a quote from Noah and also quotes Gonzolo Frasca and Ian Bogost. The result is a good comment on how games can be more complex than a list of hate-promoting website and computer games might lead you to believe, and can work for tolerance as much as hatred. (Not to mention a critical perspective…) The only thing missing is mention of the obvious tolerance-and-understanding-promoting website, Grand Text Auto.
As I mentioned here before, Noah and I will be speaking today at Narr@tive: Digital Storytelling. Our talks are 4-5pm in Gallery 6 of the UCLA Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd at Westwood Blvd, where, as we learned when we walked by yesterday, Janeane Garofalo was speaking the night before.
Noah’s to speak on “Playable Media, Textual Instruments;” my talk will be “Figuring Interactive Fiction.”
April 21, 2004
June is shaping up to be a great month for discussing interactive story with like-minded folks. Chris Crawford still has room available at his intimate Phrontisterion conference (now in its 5th year), June 26-27 just outside gorgeous Jacksonville, Oregon. You can even camp on his property, I believe. Expected attendees this year include Gordon Walton, Justin Hall and Celia Pearce. Email Chris for more info.
By the way, we added a few sample screenshots of Facade on interactivestory.net — scroll down past the project description to see them.
April 19, 2004
The last few weeks have seen several articles and presentations about games as movies, or Hollywood directors interested in games — a NYTimes article, reactions on Slashdot Games, Ludology.org and Terra Nova, a GDC presentation by Neil Young (designer of Majestic, now head of Maxis) about producing the successful Return of the King game for EA:
According to Young, the key to the success of the games lies in the understanding that these titles were not simply mass appeal games, but also mass entertainment experiences. Gameplay — the mechanics of game design — can certainly make or break a game, Young said, but on a broader level, the widespread success of a title depends equally on how broadly engaging a title is in terms of its general entertainment value.
In other words, does it have a movie tie-in. So it was refreshing (and ego-stroking) to find this article in the Calgary free weekly paper, FFWD:
April 16, 2004
Twisty Little Passages was slashdotted.
I have to admit, the conversation in comments there is different than I’d expect. I keep looking for “In Soviet Russia, the interactive fiction PLAYS YOU!”
April 15, 2004
Now, to interrupt your regularly scheduled discussion of games (and other things) for a brief dip into evolutionary game theory (EGT), a field that looks at how different strategies can fare against each other, and against themselves, when they repeatedly play games in the von Neumann/Nash sense – and a comment on how game theory relates to game studies.
Ben Packer and I took the nicely implemented JPrison appplet for running EGT games, developed by Laboratoire d’Informatique Fondamentale de Lille, and added a simple, but somewhat flexible, programming language to it: STRANGE, a STRategy lANGuagE. Today in Michael Kearns’ Networked Life class, we had four groups compete to devise strategies under different conditions…
April 14, 2004
In “Call Me E-Mail: The Novel Unfolds Digitally” (archive), New York Times reporter Adam Baer covers e-mail fictions including Intimacies by Eric Brown and Rob Wittig’s Blue Company 2002 and interviews e-lit experts including Rob, Thom Swiss and GTA’s Noah Wardrip-Fruin. People interested in Blue Company *begin shameless plug* might also like its sort-of sequel Kind of Blue.
CHAISE Magazine is the way things ought to be. It’s a biannual bite-sized showcase of cutting-edge artwork, distributed free of charge…
April 13, 2004
William Gillespie, Scott Rettberg, and Rob Wittig
Reporting from Notre Dame University
&Now Conference April 5-6, 2004
W: Compared to the Holocaust Conference going on up in Massachusetts this weekend, I think &Now was an especially fun place to be. The presenters were freaks for the most part, freaks and Lydia Davis, from the fringes of word art. Those who write and have other people publish books of stories or poems were probably in the minority. There was abundant electronica, collaborative text-collage performance, multimedia performance fiction, text-image-sound, and even a critic.
April 12, 2004
The bot bachelors of Mark Marino and Alan Laser follow in Eliza‘s footsteps and provide amusement for those who browse on Windows with cookies turned on. (These aren’t my own turn-ons, and I’ve only chatted these bots up briefly on a borrowed computer, but doing much beyond a Web page that is accessbile can be difficult – that’s another discussion, anyway.) This offering sits on the site of full-featured Bunk Magazine, a periodical that seems to sit somewhere in between Salon and Albino Black Sheep.
GDC has inspired one lengthy discussion on GTxA so far, perhaps we can get another one going. As I mentioned earlier, the presentation of this year’s Indie Game Jam was a highlight of the conference for me and others (Robin’s writeup, more 1 2 3 4). I love the idea of a group of experienced practitioners getting together in a single location for a few days (pics 1 2 3 4), set loose with a shared, novel, expressive development platform, to quickly jam out an array of little interactive works, ending with an group exhibition shortly thereafter.
This got some of us thinking about doing our own version of a Game Jam. I recall Michael was immediately thinking about the idea of doing a similar event at his new Experimental Game Lab.
Wandering around SOMA a few hours before I flew home to Boston, Noah and I had a bit of time to think about the concept of a Jam. We thought, what would a Jam of electronic writers look like?
I’m on the program committee for the workshop Story Representation: Mechanism and Context, to be held at the 12th ACM International Conference on Multimedia in New York next October (details below). If you are interested in multimedia story systems, particularly systems that employ AI models of story and character, please consider attending!
The 1st ACM Workshop on
STORY REPRESENTATION, MECHANISM AND CONTEXT
In conjunction with the 12th ACM International Conference on Multimedia
October 15, 2004
New York, New York, USA
Papers due: June 15, 2004
Notification of acceptance: July 15, 2004
Camera-ready papers due: August 1, 2004
A week ago at the List Gallery in Cambridge, as part of the Son et Lumiere group show, I saw a great installation that incorporated massive amounts of electronic text. The piece was called Listening Post, by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin. Apparently it’s been touring, so some of you may have already seen it. Their site describes it better than I can; be sure to click on Image Gallery. And here’s a NYTimes review of it.
April 8, 2004
Hmm, after reading the article, it turns out I was fooled on April 1st after all…
Google’s new free email service, Gmail, offers users 1GB of free storage, in return for ads that appear in your email. Not just any ads, though — the Gmail system scans the text of the email you’re sending, to choose customized, targeted ads based on the content of what you’re writing about.
This is bound to spook some people out — the idea that someone, some thing, is secretly reading and deciding things about your private email. However Google downplays this:
“It’s not that Google is peeking… It’s computers doing processing.”
I’ve just started experimenting with txtkit. One begins reading by typing searches into a Mac’s terminal window. Then the machine’s desktop is replaced by an OpenGL-rendered representation of a collaborative reading space. Matching sentences unfurl vertically when selected, against a background of a slowly-rotating spirograph-like structure that represents the cluster of search results. And then the visualizations that connect with the readings of others kick in. Have any GTxA readers experimented with this? What do you think?
Current texts available for collaborative reading include a selection by Lev Manovich, a selection by project originator Hans Ulrich Reck, and Lawrence Lessig’s new book (another benefit of free culture). Here is some material culled from the project web pages: