October 3, 2008

Steve Meretzky to Speak at MIT Monday

by Nick Montfort · , 7:28 am

For those in or near Cambridge, MA:

Monday (Oct 6) at 6pm
MIT’s Stata Center, 32-141

Award-studded “game god”* Steve Meretzky will speak on Monday (Oct 6) at 6pm in MIT’s Stata Center, 32-141.

Steve Meretzky’s first job in computer gaming was at the Cambridge company Infocom, which was the leading interactive fiction developer. Meretzky became the company’s most prolific author, writing Planetfall, A Mind Forever Voyaging, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos and co-authoring The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with Douglas Adams.

Meretzky has since worked at Legend Entertainment, Boffo Games (which he co-founded), and WorldWinner. He is currently at Blue Fang Games.

Meretzky won the 2008 Game Design Challenge at GDC and recently starred in the MC Frontalot video “It Is Pitch Dark.”

Meretzky will speak, have a public conversation with Purple Blurb host Nick Montfort, and then take questions from the audience. The event is free and open to the public. To learn more about the Purple Blurb series of which this talk is a part, see: http://nickm.com/if/purple_blurb

* According to the magazine PC Gamer.

5 Responses to “Steve Meretzky to Speak at MIT Monday”

  1. Aandnota Says:

    will the interview be live? or at least a transcript provided? is there, perhaps, an irc channel we could participate through? if not, please??

  2. Nick Montfort Says:

    Thanks to Steve & all who attended – it was a great evening that offered the writer in us and the gamer in us lots to think about.

  3. Nick Montfort Says:

    I don’t see much harm in posting my introduction here, so here it is:

    It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction with Steve Meretzky’s work, a sentiment that I know is shared by many in this room. There is so much of his work to praise, new and old, innovative and hilarious, textual and graphical. Without making any attempt to be comprehensive, I’ll note that, after graduating from MIT, Steve started his career in computer gaming at Infocom, where, after working as a tester, he became that company’s most prolific author of interactive fiction, designing, programming and writing Planetfall, Sorcerer, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (in collaboration with Douglas Adams), A Mind Forever Voyaging, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Stationfall, and Zork Zero. He continued to create adventure games for Legend Entertainment (including the Spellcasting 101 series) and for his company Boffo Games (for which he did Hodj ‘n’ Podj and The Space Bar). He then worked for many years, again prolifically, at WorldWinner. He is now at Blue Fang games working on the Zoo Tycoon series. The awards that stud him include a 2005 BAFTA award for the re-released Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy and the prize for his victory at the 2008 Game Design Challenge at GDC.

    I just want to mention two reasons that Steve Meretzky’s work has been so important to me. Many people recall the the emotional impact of his 1983 game Planetfall, but the real contribution of that game, and the robot buddy Floyd who appears in it, went beyond a tugging at the heartstrings: It showed that a computer game character could be richly drawn, playing an important role within the game and being well-written. In 1985, Steve’s A Mind Forever Voyaging exploded our expectations by showing an American city transformed over time. He showed in this game that we could textually simulate our society on the computer, putting forth ideas about how policies and governance might make our lives better or worse. It’s hard to think of a more powerful idea in computer gaming. I know that we will still be learning even from this early work of Steve’s in the next few decades. I’m very glad we have this opportunity tonight to hear from and learn from Steve Meretzky in person. Please join me in welcoming him.

  4. Nick Montfort Says:

    Here are two blog posts about the event: 1 2.

  5. Dan Bruno Says:

    Thanks for hosting this talk, Nick — as you say, lots to think about from Meretzky. I hope to be back for the other Purple Blurb events!

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