December 22, 2005
Yesterday I met up with MUD genealogist Martin Keegan and his fellow digital rights activist Julian Midgley, coordinator of the UK Campaign for Digital Rights. Martin was a wizard of Island, an early carved-out-of-C MUD, and he came to my talk last Tuesday, interested to hear about IF.
Cambridge really seems to be the centre of UK interactive fiction development, as far as I can tell, with the IF games for the Phoenix being the most notable applications of that university-wide computing service and with conversions of these games becoming the first commercial IF in the UK. Check out the current Wikipedia article on Phoenix, for instance, which mentions first off “Several large early British interactive fiction games, including Acheton, Sangraal, and Fyleet, were developed on Phoenix before being sold commercially for microcomputers by Acornsoft and, later, Topologika” and then continues with an offhand note “(To do: add more about the serious uses of Phoenix)”. Jonathan Partington (now at Leeds) and Graham Nelson (now at Oxford) represent two academic generations of important IF work here, and there are further generations – Jon Ingold (now in London) has done significant IF work here more recently. There are a few Cantabrigian folks currently on ifMUD, too. Given that, and the nice turnout for the Michael Bywater/Steven Meretzky event in London, one would think that, despite lackluster official search results, Cambridge might be ripe for some sort of interactive fiction fest.