March 4, 2005

Tabletop “Playable Fictions”

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 1:34 pm

I’m in the process of curating a show for ACMI, the Australian Center for the Moving Image. The show’s title will be “Playable Fictions” and it strikes me that the GTxA audience would be a great one to ask for feedback on my in-process plans. I’d be happy to hear — via comments or trackbacks — suggestions for particular pieces, categories of work, or exhibition strategies.

ACMI is a relatively new and large museum in Melbourne which, in addition to traditional exhibition spaces, includes theatres, screening rooms, and production facilities. They were one of the partners for DAC 2003, and since that time they’ve opened a number of additional spaces, which will soon include an area designed for the display of games and other software (where my show will be focused). So far they seem very open to ideas, such as having a DVD in the catalog (for accommodating software and digital video), as well as including some work that goes beyond the borders of the exhibition space.

So far I’ve been framing my thinking in terms of how pieces will be displayed. Rather than post all at once about the show, I’m planning to make a few posts, each discussing different types of display. For this post I want to focus on work that could be displayed on a tabletop, or in a case. It would be great to have copies of these that people could actually read and play during the exhibition, and perhaps we might schedule play sessions.

Types of pieces:
– Early tabletop RPG (e.g., early edition of Dungeons and Dragons)
– Relatively current RPG(s) on the “story” rather than “mechanics” end (e.g., My Life with Master or Amber Diceless)
– CCG(s) with fiction connection (e.g., Call of Cthulhu or Illuminati New World Order)
– Tabletop board game(s) (e.g., Talisman)
– Page/card rearrangeable fictions (e.g., Composition #1 or Life in the Garden)
– Gamebook fictions (e.g., an early Choose Your Own Adventure or an entry for grown-ups like DiChiara’s Hard-Boiled)
– Scripts for recombinant theatre (e.g., experimental like the Oulipo’s “theatre tree” or mainstream like “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” — or is TnTW more LARP-like?)
– LARP game resources and/or documentation (e.g., mainstream like How to Host a Murder or subculture like Vampire: The Masquerade — or material on storytelling in the Society for Creative Anachronism)

So, what am I leaving out? What specific pieces must be included? What’s the best way to exhibit pieces?

Also, does anyone know of other examples of people blogging the curatorial process? A quick web search didn’t turn up any hits, which surprised me. Perhaps I’m not forming the query appropriately?