March 12, 2006

Second Person Preview

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 5:11 pm

To celebrate the availability of the First Person paperback, I’m happy to share the table of contents for the sequel that Pat Harrigan and I have edited. The new book, Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media, is currently in the MIT Press production process (and will hopefully appear on shelves this fall). We’re very pleased with how the new book has come together. It includes leading game designers, innovative computer scientists, writers and artists engaging the playful potential of digital media, and scholars who take games and other “playable” media seriously along computational, representational, performance, and ludic dimensions. Plus three appendixes include alternative RPGs from John Tynes, Greg Costikyan, and James Wallis!

I: Tabletop Systems

1) Greg Costikyan: Games, Storytelling, and Breaking the String
2) George R.R. Martin on the Wild Cards novels
3) Erik Mona: From the Basement to the Basic Set: The Early Years of Dungeons & Dragons
4) Kenneth Hite: Narrative Structure and Creative Tension in Call of Cthulhu
5) Keith Herber on “The Haunted House”
6) Jonathan Tweet on character creation in Everway
7) Will Hindmarch: Storytelling Games as a Creative Medium
8) Rebecca Borgstrom: Structure and Meaning in Role-Playing Game Design
9) Paul Czege: My Life with Master: The Architecture of Protagonism
10) James Wallis: Making Games That Make Stories
11) Eric Zimmerman: Creating a Meaning-Machine: The Deck of Stories Called Life in the Garden
12) Eric Lang (with Pat Harrigan): Design Decisions and Concepts in Licensed Collectible Card Games
13) Kevin Wilson: One Story, Many Media
14) Bruno Faidutti on Mystery of the Abbey
15) Kim Newman on Life’s Lottery

II: Computational Fictions

1) Jordan Mechner: The Sands of Time: Crafting a Videogame Story
2) Lee Sheldon on And Then There Were None
3) Helen Thorington on Solitaire
4) Jeremy Douglass: Enlightening Interactive Fiction: Andrew Plotkin’s Shade
5) Steve Meretzky: The Creation of Floyd the Robot in Planetfall
6) Nick Montfort: Fretting the Player Character
7) Emily Short on Savoir-Faire
8) Stuart Moulthrop: Pax, Writing, and Change
9) Talan Memmott: RE:Authoring Magritte: The Brotherhood of Bent Billiard
10) Lev Manovich on Mission to Earth
11) Marie-Laure Ryan on Juvenate
12) Mark C. Marino on 12 Easy Lessons to Better Time Travel
13) Chris Crawford: Deikto: A Language for Interactive Storytelling
14) D. Fox Harrell: GRIOT’s Tales of Haints and Seraphs: A Computational Narrative Generation System
15) Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern: Writing Façade: A Case Study in Procedural Authorship
16) Robert Zubek on The Breakup Conversation
17) Mark Keavney on The Archer’s Flight

Part Three: Real Worlds

1) John Tynes: Prismatic Play: Games as Windows on the Real World
2) Sean Thorne on John Tynes’s Puppetland
3) Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca: Video Games Go to Washington: The Story Behind The Howard Dean for Iowa Game
5) Jane McGonigal: The Puppet Master Problem: Design for Real-World, Mission-Based Gaming
6) Nick Fortugno on A Measure for Marriage
7) Robert Nideffer on
8) Teri Rueb on Itinerant
9) Tim Uren: Finding the Game in Improvised Theater
10) Joseph Scrimshaw on Adventures in Mating
11) Adrienne Jenik: Santaman’s Harvest Yields Questions, or Does a Performance Happen if it Exists in a Virtual Forest?
12) Torill Elvira Mortensen: Me, the Other
13) Jill Walker: A Network of Quests in World of Warcraft
14) Celia Pearce and Artemesia: Communities of Play: The Social Construction of Identity in Persistent Online Game Worlds
15) Adrianne Wortzel: Eliza Redux

Appendix I: Puppetland by John Tynes
Appendix II: Bestial Acts by Greg Costikyan
Appendix III: The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen by James Wallis

18 Responses to “Second Person Preview”

  1. Dan Shiovitz Says:

    I am totally looking forward to this — any idea when it’s coming out?

  2. Patrick Dugan Says:

    I can’t believe I missed out on contributing something to this (well I can, since I don’t have any hard, playable accomplishments to my name… YET), but I like the running metaphore of the different iterations relating to different perspectives. I have a theory about perspectives being a bit different in interactivity, where first person is direct, abstract manipulation ala Sim City or Tetris, second person provides a utilitarian avatar or empty vessel, and third person attributes a platform of a chracter or socially significant role to the player. From what I gather of the table of contents this collection deals much with the Second person and spills over into the third. But the truth is crafting interactive characters and facilitating player agency in the interactive third person hasn’t matured yet, because dramatic gameplay is only in its infancy. In the meantime it seems like this collection is rich and diverse enough to be a strong intellectual platform for exploring the new wave of interactive drama.

  3. noah Says:

    Dan and Patrick, thanks for your enthusiastic comments!

    I can’t say for sure when the book will be out. It’s been with the MIT Press production people since last year, and I believe is currently in copyediting. Layout will still have to take place, and even when that’s completed there will still be months of printing, binding, and shipping before it appears in stores. So, to make a long story short, I’ve got my fingers crossed for fall.

    Patrick, it strikes me that you might enjoy these paragraphs from the book’s introduction, written by Pat Harrigan (the book’s lead editor):

    By design, the subject of most of Second Person’s contributors is, centrally, “you.” This is because you are the person for whom the story is being told, and because the roles discussed in this book will for the most part be filled by you. Colossal Cave Adventure, the first computer text adventure, famously addresses the reader, “You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” The Cave of Time, the first Choose Your Own Adventure book, announces that, “The adventures you take are a result of your choice. You are responsible because you choose!” Jeremy Douglass, in his essay here, points out that even the most “first person” of game experiences — the 3D virtual reality that reaches its apotheosis in room-sized CAVE displays — serves the same function as the textual second person: simulated immediacy.

    Outside these caves, tabletop role-playing games speak directly to you as well; to pick only one example, Jonathan Tweet’s Over the Edge tells us: This game is a coded message. You will decode the message in your dreams and execute its instructions in the spaces between moments of will. Neither you nor I will ever know the contents of the message.

  4. andrew Says:

    Don’t worry Patrick, knowing the prolific Noah and Pat, they’ve surely already got plans for Third Person, Fourth Person, etc! ;-)

  5. Patrick Says:

    I think it would be better laid out as a trilogy, since there is no such thing as 4th person perspective in literature. Maybe in interactivity, as the player blends from an empty vessel to a direct gesthalt to a character platform, the transfusion of perspectives creates a 4th person perspective of the procedurality of the transfusion itself. But that just sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

    Reading the intro paragraphs, I’m happy to see I was fairly close to the over arching topic. What strikes me reading the Collosal Cave example is that having the responsiblity of navigating those twisty little passages soley put on “you” (that is me, or whomever is playing) is a bit of a turn-off for all but the niche hardcore enthusiast. I think the mainstream would prefer having some direction and initial momentum int he form of a 3rd person character platform through which their agency can be nurtured. This is the commercial and aethetic promise of interactive drama.

    On a slightly tangential note, maybe this is worth another post, but do you all think “Drama Game” is a good term to describe Facade, Storytron products, Utopia ect? It certainly is more implicative to people who already play games and who are in the industry, but may be alienatating to non-gamers who automatically see games a childish or not enjoyable to them. What do you all think?

  6. jill/txt » second person (and my first ever publication on WoW) Says:

    […] jill/txt 15/3/2006 [second person (and my first ever publication on WoW)] The table of contents for the Second Person anthology is out – I have a short piece […]

  7. Will Hindmarch Says:

    Somehow I missed this post when it was new. Seeing the ToC now, I am deeply nervous. Hopefully nobody will see my article in the glare of all those others. What a brilliant slew you’ve managed to squeeze into that book!

  8. noah Says:

    Will — We’re glad you like the ToC, but there’s no need to be so modest! Pat and I are excited to have you as a contributor.

    Also, it looks like MITP now has a catalog page for Second Person online, with an ISBN and a tentative November publication date.

  9. Ian Bogost Says:


  10. Will Hindmarch Says:

    They sure do have a catalog page. Thanks for pointing me at that. (My, uh, name’s been left off the contributor’s list, btw.)

    I’ll see if I can’t find places to post that link that might generate some sales.

    I’m not surprised you reached 800 pages, either. Complete games like Puppetland and Munchausen (the two that I’ve read thus far) are books in their own right!

  11. noah Says:

    Sorry about that Will!

    And, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like you’re alone. The page is also missing Lee Sheldon, Mark Keavney, Sean Thorne, Nick Fortugno, and Teri Rueb from the list of authors. Perhaps we hit some sort of upper maximum? Anyway, Pat and I are writing to the press about it.

    As for length, it probably won’t actually get to 800 pages, since we’ll be using the same design we used for First Person. It’s two-column, and on larger paper than the usual MIT book. I think the 800 page estimate is based on their usual layout.

  12. Pat Harrigan Says:

    Will, thanks for noticing that! MITP has now added all the overlooked names, so I think the list is accurate now.

  13. WRT: Writer Response Theory » Blog Archive » The Second First Person Says:

    […] Games and Playable Media is due out in November 2006, but a preview of the table of contents is now available. The anthology will feature t […]

  14. Jill Says:

    Is this actually out now? Amazon has it listed as having come out on November 1, but also have a 2-3 week delivery time on it.

  15. Grand Text Auto » Second Person for Sale Says:

    […] of a new edited volume: Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media (table of contents, Booksense link, link). Like First Person, Second Pe […]

  16. Noah Wardrip-Fruin » Second Person arrives Says:

    […] les, drawing on the insights of a diverse set of contributors. To learn more, check out: the table of contents, the introduction, Booksense’s link to a local book […]

  17. the full-text abduction of paul czege Says:

    Noah Wardrip-Fruin releases Second Person table of contents


    My piece is a breezy 750 word shriek of narrativist pain and design fervor. Can’t wait to read the rest of them.

  18. Networked_Performance — Second Person: Says:

    […] of a new edited volume: Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media (table of contents, Booksense link, link). Like First Person, Second Per […]

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