August 31, 2007

When Musicians Play Interactive Fiction

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:07 pm

Leonard Cohen

Manhattan: Taken.
Berlin: Taken.

The Rolling Stones

Satisfaction: That’s fixed in place.

August 30, 2007

hamlet.doc and tab, tab, tab

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:01 am

A couple of quick links worth reading:

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, Matt Kirschenbaum muses on the challenges and opportunities for future literary studies in an era when the material basis of authorship—including journals, notes, correspondence, and manuscripts—is increasingly born-digital in hamlet.doc.

And over at if:book, Dan Visel considers tabs, nonlinearity, and parallel reading styles in tab, tab, tab.

August 29, 2007

Gimme Gamecock

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:49 pm

This kind of stuff is my music to my ears.

Also read about Gamecock Media in the NYTimes from last February, when they first launched, and this article in Variety last month.

May mega-angels and their minions save the game industry…

August 28, 2007

Billy vs. Steve

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:55 pm

I just saw this tonight, with my local gang of indie developers — fabulous. A must see!

The critics are unanimous as well: 98% on rotten tomatoes.

August 27, 2007

Big Day for Gonzo

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:41 pm

No, not thatthis!

Congrats Dr. Frasca!

High Art Play

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:06 pm

Not long ago the question you loved to hate was, are games stories? Lately your favorite quandry getting attention is, are games art? Poor games.

While for me the concern (if there ever was one) was sufficiently addressed recently by designer Clint Hocking, for mainstream games within popular culture, at a minimum — I’m interested to read the overviews, interviews and personal views, situated more in the realm of high art, from the new volume Videogames and Art, edited by Andy Clarke and Grethe Mitchell.

August 24, 2007

Continuing Coverage

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 1:53 am

It’s been over two years since Façade‘s release, and bits of coverage continue to appear in a variety of formats. In the unlikely event you’re not sick to death of it, please read on.

August 23, 2007

Hypertext, Moulthrop

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 5:51 pm

Hypertext innovator Stuart Moulthrop has been a guest researcher at the University of Bergen for the past two weeks. Over the past couple of days, Stuart gave a couple of wonderful lectures. In the first Stuart proposed that we supplant the commonplace notion of “content” based on withholding or separating off with the idea of “d8a” (pronounced ‘dataleet’), based on the ideas of giving in and giving out. Moulthrop encouraged the audience to consider new forms of secondary literacy based on an understanding of participatory procedurality. In his second presentation, today, Stuart showed several newer pieces of his electronic writing, including a brand new work, “Under Language,” in which the users’ interaction with parts of the poem/game affect the procedural properties of the work. Based on your reading of/interaction with particular lines of the poem, you might for instance, crash it, change its visual presentation, adjust its volume, or change a variety of its other properties. It is a particularly interesting work from the perspective of “codework” because the operations of the program are part and parcel of the work as it is presented to its reader in a particularly intriguing way that would be difficult for me to explain until you see the program in operation. “Under Language” is a work in progress, that Stuart has been working on while he has been at UiB, and one that I think will be interesting to a lot of people interested in codework and procedural literacy when it is published. But that is not what this post is about. This post is to notify you that we have discovered what the future of hypertext is all about. It is a Norwegian band named, simply, Hypertext. Moulthrop and I will attend their show tomorrow night in Bergen.

Ian Horswill Blogging!

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:39 pm

Ian Horswill is a researcher and professor at Northwestern University well-known for, among other things, his excellent AI, robotics and vision work, leading a computer science meets arts-and-entertainment lab whose members included Robin Hunicke (now MySims design lead) and Rob Zubek (of Breakup Conversation fame), and administrator of a progressive Animate Arts curriculum at Northwestern.

Ian is now working on some AI-based interactive characters with procedural animation, and blogging about it.

This is very exciting. I’ve known Ian for over 10 years, he’s a regular at the AAAI meetings and GDC, a long-time supporter of our crazy ideas, an encouragement for me as an industry guy to wade into academic waters, a member of Michael’s thesis committee, the list goes on.

August 22, 2007

Spore “Finished”

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:48 pm

It’s all just going to be tweaking from now until spring for Will Wright’s magnum opus, 1up says after an encounter with the pre-release game at the Leipzig Games Convention.

August 20, 2007

Les Basiques: French-Language Introduction to Electronic Literature

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:42 am

Leonarado/Olats, the French branch of Leonardo, have recently published an online book, Phillipe Bootz’s Les Basiques : La Littérature numérique. A quick browse based on sketchy French language skills suggests that the extensively hyperlinked 15 chapter document provides a very good historical introduction to some forms of electronic writing, with a particular focus on francophone work, from the prehistory of electronic writing in avant-garde traditions, through hypertext, combinatory forms, and animated interactive poetry. Les Basiques would make a nice companion to N. Katherine Hayles’s Electronic Literature: What is it?.

New TIRWeb on Donna Leishman & Jason Nelson

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:24 am

A new issue of the Iowa Review Web has been published, guest-edited by Stephanie Strickland and Marjorie Coverely Luesebrink, and featuring the work of Donna Leishman. Titled “MultiModal Coding: Jason Nelson, Donna Leishman and Electronic Writing,” the issue features an in-depth double interview of the two artists, essays by each artist on the other’s work, essays by Talan Memmott on Leishman and Nelson’s work, and links to their works, including Leishman’s Deviant, Nelson’s Pandemic Rooms and much more. The issue provides a good case study on these two innovative electronic authors. I also note that TIRWeb is sporting a new interface. I think I like it better than the last, though I’m still not sure if I’m completely sold on the design.

August 15, 2007

were in ur museum

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 1:56 pm

You don’t realize it, but while you’ve been innocently building Tesla coils and general infantry, Grand Text Auto has been in ur museum installing ur art.

Beall under a GTxA sky

Starting October 4, 2007, the Beall Center for Art + Technology at the University of California, Irvine will be multiplied by 256 and divided by zero. And besides that, the Beall Center will host the exhibition Grand Text Auto, featuring work by the six of us: Noah Wardrip-Fruin / Mary Flanagan / Michael Mateas / Andrew Stern / Nick Montfort / Scott Rettberg.

There have a been a few blog-to-book transfers, but this exhibit and the associated events are, as far as we know, the first time blog has had such a manifestation in the physical space of an art gallery.

August 14, 2007

Bits from the Classic Gaming Expo

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 3:29 pm

Yars Revenge played on a heavy sixer

I’m just now getting a chance to write briefly about the July 28-29 Classic Gaming Expo, where I met up with Ian Bogost, among others, to work further on our book Video Computer System: The Atari 2600 Platform. Ian has a nice writeup at Gamasutra, more thoughtful than I will manage to offer here.

Scene from the Pinball Hall of Fame

More than the frenzy of cartridge-swapping, I enjoyed writing and catching up with various interactive fiction folks, including the author of Fallacy of Dawn, the developer of the incredible Atari 2600 title Lord of the Rings, and the filmmaker behind Get Lamp.

Virtual Friends, Lovers, and Prime Designers

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:10 am

Here are three excellent new articles, two in the Wall Street Journal and one from the New York Times.

Stuck Holding the Electronic Leash“. To young kids, virtual pets continue to be a successful game genre; in fact some companies are cashing in like never before. Impressive!

Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?

Nearly 40% of men and 53% of women who play online games said their virtual friends were equal to or better than their real-life friends, according to a survey of 30,000 gamers … More than a quarter of gamers said the emotional highlight of the past week occurred in a computer world …

August 13, 2007

We Have Code / Cave

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:36 pm

Check out Dennis G. Jerz’s excellent article about Adventure‘s cave and Adventure‘s code, (link updated) now out in the second number of Digital Humanities Quarterly and already trumpeted in Boing Boing.

August 9, 2007

Would-Be IF Stuff

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:33 pm

I was fascinated to find that this talk, “Dungeons and Hyperlinks: Electronic Literature and Digital Narratives from Text Adventures to Hypertext,” was given recently at the hackerfest called Chaos Communication Camp 2007. It covers the development of a MUD, text adventure, and finally a Shockwave game based on Nika Bertram’s novel Der Kahuna Modus (Kahuna Mode). The Shockwave game is available, although it doesn’t run on Intel Macs, which makes it not available to me. I can’t find the Inform interactive fiction on the IF Archive or the author’s site. Even a trip to the Kahuna Mode MUD didn’t help me locate the warez. If anyone finds this, please comment about where it is.

August 7, 2007

“Narrative Variation in IF” Dissertation Online

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:49 pm

My dissertation, “Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction,” is now online.

Dissertation on faux paper If my slides and defense summary interested you, you can check out this long form writeup of my work. I guess there will be an “official” version coming from ProQuest/UMI before too long, too, via their open access option. I think that “official” in this case will mean that the papers I printed out will be scanned in again, imbuing the result with the authority of the page.

August 3, 2007

This Truthiness Just In!!

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:21 pm

Ian Bogoston The Colbert Report…? this Tuesday? Is it truthy???!!!

[picks jaw off floor]

what’s cable TV coming to??!?!

Update: Video of Ian on the Colbert Report.

Sign up for SIGGRAPH at UCSD

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:42 am
Takashi's Season

This Saturday, Sunday, and Monday UCSD’s Calit2 and CRCA will host a great selection of performances, installations, and screenings in collaboration with the SIGGRAPH 2007 Art Gallery. You can see “Crossing the Line” (Peter Jackson’s 4k short film), “Takashi’s Season” (live shadow puppets combined with animation), ATLAS in Silico (playful interaction with our new metaphor for life, metagenomics, on a 100 million pixel display), my collaborative literary game project Screen (running on a 12-screen version of UCSD’s new StarCave), and much more.

August 2, 2007

New and Beautiful Games with Pre-Digital Looks

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:26 pm

There are two new games coming out that look extraordinarily beautiful to me, based on their screenshots and video footage. Interestingly, in both cases, the developers have gone out of their way to make their visuals resemble pre-digital media forms: grainy, streaking, analog video art, and physical arts-and-crafts dioramas, respectively.

The standout item from the aforementioned IndieCade collection at E3 is (the premiere?) of The Night Journey, by celebrated video artist Bill Viola (I’m a big fan) and the USC EA Game Innovation Lab, in this effort led by Tracy Fullerton. Also see the description at USC’s site. Watch game footage at the IndieCade page. Haunting! (Viola has experimented with interactivity before, with Tree of Knowledge.)

Lists, If You Like

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 5:12 pm

Lists are sometimes interesting and informative; sometimes exclusive and off-putting (often the case with ranked lists), and sometimes seemingly arbitrary — and sometimes all three simultaneously! Of course, they’re always debatable: for example, witness the ongoing good debate over a canonical list of games.

The blog Indygamer, similar to Jay is Games or GameTunnel, compiles a large collection of reviews of indie games; here’s the variety of games discussed there last month alone. Yesterday one of the Indygamer editors posted a list of his favorite 27 art games. Taken as one guy’s opinion, it’s an interesting list, with some cool stuff I’ve not heard of that I’d like to play.

August 1, 2007

MLA International Bibliography to Index Scholarly Web Sites

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:54 am

In one small step for literature on the web, the MLA International Bibliography has decided to index scholarly web sites including thematic research collections, electronic archives, portals, language maps, research tools, teaching tools, blogs, discussion list archives, and video presentations. It’s great to see the MLA begin to acknowledge that much of the conversation and practice of literary studies now takes place on the web. The guidelines for inclusion are however much in line with peer-review practices of print journals: each site must be examined by an indexer; relate to language and literature; identify the editor and editorial board; have a stated editorial policy; identify the publisher, sponsoring organization, or both; and provide for archiving. I’m not sure if literary sites that would clearly fall into the common practice of literature on the web, such as The Iowa Review Web, the electronic book review, or the Electronic Literature Collection would necessarily meet all of these criteria. Does the fact that ebr doesn’t have a formal editorial board, for instance, mean that it should not be indexed, in spite of the fact that it has been the home of high-quality literary discourse for more than a decade? It will be interesting to see how this project pans out. To bring web sites to the attention of the MLA for consideration in the bibliography, send an email message that includes the URL to

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