October 29, 2004
Nick, Scott, Star, Dan, and Emily after IF Walkthroughs
Wednesday night at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania, I played host and interactor for the IF Walkthroughs event. Although Nick has done a pretty good job of familiarizing me with the world of interactive fiction (incessantly) virtually since the first moment I met him at DAC ’99, I have never felt as engaged with this form, with its heritage in the ancient riddle and the Zork games of my adolescence, as I did after interacting with Slouching towards Bedlam by Daniel Ravipinto and Star C. Foster, Nick’s work-in-progress Book and Volume, and Emily Short‘s Savoir-Faire.
The evening went very well. I played the neophyte interactor, typing and speaking my way through the commands, while the authors read their very well-crafted responses, and afterwards I was able to ask some questions, followed by a Q/A with the audience. The authors all read their work very well, and the crowd of about 25 people was very engaged in the reading and with the form. One of the things I enjoyed most about the event was the fact that each of the three works revealed not only different kinds of settings and plots (Bedlam‘s nineteenth-century Steampunk, Book and Volume‘s contemporary parody of technocratic labor, and Savoir‘s fantastical exploration of an eighteenth-century manor), but also three very different prose styles and authoring strategies. I think this is also the first time that I have authentically been hooked on a work of IF — I’m still puzzling my way through Emily Short’s Savoir-Faire. All four of the authors talked about their work, and about IF generally, after the reading, and shed some light on the creative process involved in creating IF, alone, collaboratively, and as part of a creative community. I was asking questions, and not taking notes, but fortunately, a complete recording of the event will soon appear on the web, accessible through the Kelly Writers House site.