September 30, 2006

IF Comp, Coverage of IF Comp Begins

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:21 pm

The games are out for IF Comp 2006 – head to the downloads page to slake your thirst on a torrent of interactive fiction. The number of games is up from last year, to 44. If you know even a bit about IF, you’re very likely to recognize some of the names of entrants this year; a variety of development systems, including the new ones, have also been put to use on this year’s games.

Cardinal Points Also of note: Karl Parakenings has kicked off his coverage of interactive fiction in his “Cardinal Points” column with an interview of Stephen Granade.

Choose and/or Write Your Own Adventure

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:46 pm

Make Your Own Adventure offers a collaborative system for selecting/reading or adding to CYOA-style stories. The system is by Jonathan Aquino, built on the Ning social software framework. The demo story is piratical (or at least nautical), and the concept is clever, but does it result in a more resonant work when one is able to add another option for dealing with Stumpy Jack? (Thanks to Darius for news of this.)

Flat Daddy

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:40 am


I’ve posted numerous times about virtual characters (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), and in my posts I’ve always been critical of shallow, cardboard-cutout characters. I’ve always had trouble understanding how players can tolerate them.

However, sometimes a cardboard cutout is all you’ve got, and it’s better than nothing.

The Maine National Guard is giving life-size from-the-waist-up pictures of soldiers to the families of deployed guard members. Guard officials and families say the cutouts, known as Flat Daddies or Flat Soldiers, connect families with a relative who is thousands of miles away. The Flat Daddies are toted everywhere from soccer practice to coffee shops to weddings.

Re-mediating Literature

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:06 am

My expensive typewriter‘s email program recently popped up with the CFP (deadline November 6) for a digital literature conference in the Netherlands with an impressive lineup of keynotes:

An international conference on literature and the new media entitled Re-mediating Literature will take place at Utrecht University (the Netherlands) 4-6 July 2007, with keynote speakers Katherine Hayles, Marie-Laure Ryan, Jan Baetens, and Samuel Weber. The aim of this conference is to examine how technological changes have affected the ‘old’ medium of literature in the present (digital media) and the past (writing machines, film, radio, phonograph, grammophone, television). Our website features all relevant information concerning the conference including the call for papers (deadline is November 6, 2006):

September 29, 2006

DiGRA 2007 CFP

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:48 pm

The CFP for the upcoming Digital Games Research Association International Conference has just appeared. The conference will be September 24th to 28th, 2007, in Tokyo (right after the Tokyo Game Show). The deadline for papers and panel proposals is midnight (Apia time), February 14, 2007. The selection will be based on full papers and panel proposals. Details follow.

September 28, 2006

UF’s World Building Games Conference

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:55 pm

I’ll be giving a keynote talk at the March 1-2, 2007 World Building: Space and Community, the UF Games and Digital Media conference:

The University of Florida’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of English are pleased to announce the 2007 UF Conference on Games and Digital Media: “World Building: Space and Community,” which will be held in Gainesville, Florida, on March 1-2, 2007, in conjunction with the annual Conference on Comics, which will be March 3-4.

Leanardo Electronic Almanac Special Issue on Digital Poetry

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:10 pm

LEA just released an extensive new issue on Digital Poetry. While I’ve just taken a quick look, it appears to be a terrific collection of essays on contemporary digital poetry, in addition to featuring several compelling works in the gallery. The issue edited by Tim Peterson includes essays by Loss Pequeño Glazier, John Cayley with Dimitri Lemmerman, Lori Emerson, Phillippe Bootz, Manuel Portela, Stephanie Strickland, Mez, Maria Engberg, and Matthias Hilner, in addition to works in the gallery by Jason Nelson, Aya Karpinska and Daniel Howe, mEIKAL aND and CamillE BacoS, and Nadine Hilbert and Gast Bouschet. The correlation between the essayists, authors and works reviewed in this issue of LEA and the contributors to the forthcoming Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One suggests to me that the two free publications will make a great pair for teaching. All of the essays in this edition of LEA are available both in HTML and downloadable PDFs.

Another Position at UCSD

Last month I posted about a job in my department for which I’m on the search committee. Well, now it’s been approved for us to also advertise another tenure-track position for this year “with an emphasis on information and communication technology, and new media industries.” Review of applications for this second position begins November 15th.

8 Bit Mary

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:30 am

GrandTextAuto’s own Mary Flanagan appears in the documentary 8 Bit, premiering October 7 at the New York MOMA. The trailer is now available for your viewing pleasure.

September 27, 2006

Gaming‘s Rapidly Refreshing Theory

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:08 pm

GamingA Review of Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture
Alexander R. Galloway
University of Minnesota Press
168 pp.
$17.95 paper / $54.00 cloth

The five essays that make up Galloway’s book Gaming are conversant and compelling, offering valuable perspectives on gaming and culture. They are appropriately concise and well-written, and they show Galloway’s sure command of theory and his solid understanding of games and how they are played.

To be sure, the essays take a high-level view of gaming and its place in culture; although Galloway cites and considers numerous titles, his book will be less useful for close critical encounters with particular games and more useful for understanding the shape and topology of gaming overall. There is another strange twist: the essays fail to inform one another on important points and perspectives, limiting the reach and success of the discussion. But this book does work very well in opening up new ways of thinking about gaming – for instance, in showing how new connections to film and art can be usefully drawn – and supplies good food for thought for scholars and students.

I’ll briefly mention some of the most intriguing things about the five essays in Gaming in order:

Approaches to Visual Programming

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 3:51 am

As I mentioned I’m currently developing authoring tools to be used for creating character behavior for interactive drama. Depending on how this is approached, this can overlap quite a bit with visual programming. I’m in the middle of researching people’s various approaches to visual programming, paying particular attention to user interfaces. (I’m still experimenting with what extent our authoring tools will expose the programming layer below, but I’d like to see how others have attempted to visually represent programs.)

In doing so I came across an very interesting ongoing project called Subtext by a research fellow at MIT named Jonathan Edwards, whose goal is nothing less than a complete revolution of how we program, to make a “fundamentally better programming language”. He’s created a pair of geekily entertaining demo movies that demonstrate a UI for programming in Subtext, definitely worth 30 minutes of your time.

Here’s a screen capture of Subtext from the movie, just to give you a flavor:

September 26, 2006

E-lit Moves to Maryland

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:31 am

ELO attire on displayELO and MITH announcement MITH space

Over the summer, the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) moved its headquarters from UCLA to the University of Maryland, specifically, to MITH (the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities). This is a great move for the ELO, and I think for MITH as well. As vice president of the ELO, I was one of the people working to help this happen – Scott, co-founder of ELO, and Noah, the other VP of the organization, also put a lot of work into this. And many others did the packing and (literal heavy) lifting to get the office packed up, unpacked, and set up. We’re glad to have helen DeVinney, who is doing her English PhD at Maryland, at MITH as the ELO managing director. We’re looking forward to the ELO being based on the East Coast at its MITH headquarters, and to seeing its national network of activities and events continuing and improving. Check out the press release announcing the move.

Guns with an Agenda

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:14 am

Ian Bogost kicks off his new column — “Games with an Agenda” — with a familiar picture of yours truly toting a rather large rifle. What follows is a thoughtful discussion of the NRA’s game development work and the representation of guns in games generally. The column’s publisher is Serious Games Source, the serious games outlet of CMP’s website Gamasutra. Stay tuned for next week, when Gonzalo Frasca’s column — “Playing with Fire” — debuts in the same place. Gonzalo and Ian will publish their columns on alternating weeks, and the agenda is sure to get heated.

September 25, 2006

I’m Telling You I Was Framed

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:28 pm

I was recently interviewed by Simon Mills for framed, his retrospective project of interviews contextualizing digital art and writing between 1998-2004. The interview took shape in the form of several email exchanges over a period of few months. I appreciate the opportunity that Simon gave me to discuss my past and current projects, in addition to sharing my thoughts on the current state of the field of electronic literature more generally.

New Interactive Drama in the Works (Part 1)

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:51 pm

Since Façade was released over a year ago, we’ve yet to announce our plans for what’s next. Well, I’m happy to say Procedural Arts has a new interactive drama production underway, for over half a year now in fact. For those interested in the details, here’s Part 1 in a series of posts summarizing what’s been going on over the past year.

After releasing Façade in July 2005 and recuperating for several months, we were ready to begin a new interactive drama production, a commercial product this time, and seek funding for it. The goal is to take what works best from Façade, fix or improve upon what didn’t work, to make a new, more fun, more marketable interactive drama. That is, it won’t be “Façade II”.

Slamdance Indie Game Festival Entries Due Oct 6

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:50 am

The deadline for this year’s Slamdance indie games festival has been extended to October 6. Enter your game! The festival is January 19-27 in sunny, snowy Park City, Utah, just outside Salt Lake City.

September 24, 2006

Come out and WIN

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 3:51 pm

It was an intense weekend here in NYC where the Come out and Play Festival 2006 was in full swing. I played game designer Frank Lantz’s IDENTITY game, a game of secret organizations, covert intelligence, suspicion, trust, cooperation and betrayal… upon joining the game, every player is assigned to one of 5 secret organizations and given a unique codename, and the goal was to find out other player’s organizational affiliation and identity…

Writing 3-D

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:27 pm

Rita Raley guest-edited the latest release of The Iowa Review Web focused on texts in which three dimensionality is suggested or realized. In addition to Raley’s contextualizing introduction on three-dimensional electronic literature ranging from Brown University’s cave-writing workshop to other forms of writing for complex surfaces, the issue includes interviews and documentation of works by Dan Waber, Jason Pimble, Ted Warnell, David Knoebel, Aya Karpinska, Sandy Baldwin, William Gillespie, and John Cayley.

Web / Print Conceptual Writing

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:24 am

2006-05-21 20:52:41   why do i get it
2006-05-21 20:53:24   we the same
2006-05-21 20:54:00   cut my paper off
2006-05-21 20:54:35   no suday paper you came here
2006-05-21 20:55:09   lock your ass out
2006-05-21 20:55:36   laughing
2006-05-21 20:56:30   rick laugh
2006-05-21 20:57:29   joe met his match
2006-05-21 20:58:24   bea laugh
2006-05-21 20:59:05   bea lock you out
2006-05-21 21:00:08   blue eyes
2006-05-21 21:00:44   i cook today
2006-05-21 21:01:36   can cook anything
2006-05-21 21:05:18   home envirronment make a person
2006-05-21 21:06:25   live a happy life

September 22, 2006

Encyclopedia A-E

Encyclopedia A-E

Maybe you read about it in the LA Weekly or The Believer or some other leading edge news source — but now it’s time to experience the world’s finest alphabetically-ordered literary publication first hand. If you live near Providence or Philadelphia, I jealously report that you can attend one of the first launch parties for the Encyclopedia Project‘s stunning initial publication: Encyclopedia volume 1: A-E. The Providence event is this Saturday, September 23rd, 9pm, at AS220. The Philadelphia event is Monday, September 25, 7:30pm, at NEXUS. Even if you can’t make it, scope out your entry for F-K.

September 20, 2006

As Reel as Your Lives

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:57 pm

As Real as Your Life

Penn undergrad Michael Highland has a movie coming out on DVD – a short documentary about his experiences as a gamer. It’s called As Real as Your Life. I got to watch it a while back, and it’s great. They liked it at Brown, too. Here’s a trailer, and another.

IF Detected on Book Publisher’s Site

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:27 am

Dan Schmidt, IF hero, pointed out that the official site for The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, written by Gordon Dahlquist and being published by Random House in ten installments, holds a surprise – two surprises. The “online adventure” part of the site contains two promotional pieces of interactive fiction written in Inform: the “Celeste Temple Adventure” and the “Cardinal Chang Adventure.” Mobile play is available, too.

From The Glass Books site

These silicon-driven potential stories are a clever play on the the idea of a glass book and an interesting marketing twist, but I’m still going to keep to my original plan of writing promotional books as a way of getting people to play my interactive fiction.

September 19, 2006

Defining IF

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:53 pm

Mara Meijers’s post and three linked blog posts (1 2 3) were mentioned to me, so I thought I’d write a bit about defining IF, and about how a definition of IF (or some other new media form) can help.

I consider “interactive fiction” (or at least “text-based interactive fiction”) to indicate a computer program that accepts natural language input, provides natural output, and simulates a world. An IF system is a conversational system, like a chatterbot – but it simulates a whole environment, incidents, and so on rather than just one personality. So:

  • Interactive fiction, considered from this perspective, is a form (like the sonnet or the sestina) and not a genre (like the mystery).
  • According to this definition, whether something is IF or not has nothing to do with whether it is any good, how much choice it offers, or any other matters of taste or quality.

Hats Off to Airport Securirty

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:56 pm

The Arcade Wire: Airport Securirty

As mentioned on Water Cooler Games, Ian Bogost’s Persuasive Games has just released the first in a series of newsgames called The Arcade Wire. The first installment is called Airport Security, and continues to explore Persuasive Games’ overarching theme of people standing in line. It’s pretty funny, too. Check it out!

Yo Mamma Said You Can Come Out and Play

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:51 am

Come Out and Play

Festival. NYC. This weekend. Highly ludic. See the site:

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