December 30, 2010

Nick Montfort visits EIS and UCSC

Nick Montfort will be joining us on January 10th-12th and will be giving two talks and a presentation of his literary work.


Nick Montfort writes computational and constrained poetry, develops computer games, and is a critic, theorist, and scholar of computational art and media. He is associate professor of digital media in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is now serving as president of the Electronic Literature Organization. He earned a Ph.D. in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania.

December 23, 2010

Games and Scientific Discovery

from tiltfactor
by @ 3:02 pm

Since the 1950s, games have been a part of the culture of scientific discovery.
In 1951, The Nimrod was a special purpose computer built to play the game of Nim, for display at the Exhibition of Science during the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1952, the game OXO, a naughts and crosses game (tic-tack-toe for Americans) was developed in Cambridge UK by Alexander S. Douglas, a PhD candidate, for an EDSAC computer, and this research lead to the development of the field of Human Computer Interaction. The game was displayed on a cathode ray tube used to control tanks.
In 1958, William Higinbotham, of Brookhaven National Laboratory, developed Tennis for Two.

see an emulation of the game, above!

December 16, 2010

Announcing Sea and Spar Between

from Post Position
by @ 2:16 pm

Just published in Dear Navigator 1:2/3 is a new poetry generator, Sea and Spar Between, by Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland.

This has been a major project of mine and Stephanie’s over the past year. We started seriously working on this project on December 15, 2009, when we met for the first of a few days in New York to discuss and start developing it. I thought it might take only a few days to complete – not a completely outrageous idea, since I have been working on tiny poetry generators such as “The Two” those in the ppg256 series, which were not time-consuming to produce. As you might guess, since it was just published today (on December 16, 2010), I was wrong about the time it would take. But, I am delighted that the project is appearing now in wonderful company in Dear Navigator, a beautiful and appropriately-named journal.

December 9, 2010

Book Arts and Broadsides Showcased

from Post Position
by @ 10:42 am

a photo (and not a very good one, sorry) of the Building 14 WHS Books Arts & Broadsides display case

December 7, 2010

Actions in Curveship

from Post Position
by @ 7:59 pm

I’ve been working the past few days to change the way actions are represented in Curveship. The previous model for actions is described well in sections 5.1.3 and 5.1.4 of my dissertation. I won’t go into it in any detail here, but it involved two sorts of abstractions (one higher-level and associated with intention and narrating, the other lower-level and used directly in the simulation) and was considerably more complex than what I have in the current system.

MLA Teaching Narrative Theory and SPEIL Archiving Electronic Literature and Poetry

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 3:31 pm

I have chapters in a couple of books that have just recently been released. Jill Walker Rettberg and I coauthored the chapter “Narrative and Digital Media” in the MLA Volume Teaching Narrative Theory. The chapter takes readers through a semester of teaching narrative-based electronic literature works. The volume offers a broad sweep of approaches to integrating the teaching of narrative theory in literature classrooms, and is edited by Jim Phelan, Brian McHale, and David Herman. I also recently published a chapter “Editorial Process and the Idea of Genre in Electronic Literature in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1″ in the volume Archiving Electronic Literature and Poetry: Problems, Tendencies, Perspectives published by the German journal SPEIL edited by Florian Hartling and Beat Suter. The book, including articles in English and in German by a number of leading editors, publishers, authors and artists working in the field of electronic literature, is a valuable contribution to the discourse of the challenges of publishing, disseminating, and preserving works of electronic literature.
Teaching Narrative Theory
SPEIL Archiving Electronic Literature

As I Lay Dying!

I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest game, As I Lay Dying! or, Teale’s Big Hike! It is a challenging puzzle platformer I began writing in the spring of 2010 for Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s Playable Media course. You can play it free online here. I would love to hear what you think of it!

Before you continue reading some of my thoughts about the game, I encourage you to play it for a few minutes to get a feel for what the game is all about. If you can get past one or two levels, you should be in good shape.

December 6, 2010

Call for Papers: Games and Software Engineering Workshop 2011

I’ve attached after the jump the Call for Papers for the first ever Games and Software Engineering Workshop (GAS 2011), which will be held at ICSE 2011 in idyllic Honolulu, Hawaii! Jim and I have been working very hard getting everything together on what promises to be a great workshop, and we’re honored to have such an illustrious program committee. Papers are four page position papers, to be in by January 21st.
We hope to see you there!

Call for Papers: GAS 2011: The 1st Games and Software Engineering Workshop

GAS 2011: The 1st Games and Software Engineering Workshop will be a one-day workshop held between May 21-28, 2011, co-located with the International Conference of Software Engineering (ICSE) in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Important Dates

Position papers (4 pages maximum): January 21, 2010


At the core of video games are complex interactions leading to emergent behaviors. This complexity creates difficulties architecting components, predicting their behaviors and testing the results. Software engineering hasn’t yet been able to meet the demands of the games industry, an industry that works at the forefront of technology and creativity, where creating a fun experience is the most important metric of success. GAS 2011 will explore the demands of game creation and ascertain how the software engineering community can contribute to this important creative domain. Furthermore, GAS 2011 will investigate how games can help aid the software engineering process or improve software engineering education. Research in these areas has been exciting and interesting, and GAS 2011 will be the first time practitioners from all three fields to have the opportunity to come together at ICSE to investigate the possibilities of this innovative research area.
GAS encourages submissions of topics from across the entire range of software engineering research areas. The following topics are given as a guide, but all submissions will be given equal consideration.
  • Development processes

Curveship Analysis at Tufts

from Post Position
by @ 5:20 pm

I just wanted to thank Norman Ramsey, Eddie Aftandilian, and Brad Larsen for the very productive day-long discussion of Curveship that we undertook on Friday. I’ve spent most of the weekend and much of today implementing just one of the ideas for changes that came out of this. The discussion certainly gives me more to do, but it also does a great amount to focus my efforts as I work toward a release of system.

News in Game Development…

from tiltfactor
by @ 11:47 am

Dartmouth student designer Max Seidman watches a playtest while MVHI Program Coordinator Edward Ihejirika plays

Dartmouth student designer Max Seidman watches a playtest while MVHI Program Coordinator Edward Ihejirika plays

Tiltfactor is finalizing a game with local public health group Mascoma Valley Health Initiative in New Hampshire on immunization. The game will players understand “herd” immunity and the need to vaccinate against particularly pernicious diseases.

Robot Prints and Binds Riddle & Bind

from Post Position
by @ 10:59 am

If you’re looking for my new book of poems, Riddle & Bind, and you happen to be near the MBTA’s Red Line or Harvard Square specifically, prepare for excitement. You can not only purchase the book in this venerable area of Cambridge; you can have the Harvard Book Store’s book-making robot, Paige M. Gutenborg, manufacture a copy of Riddle & Bind for you in about four minutes. The cost for the book and the bibliotronic display in which it is forged is simply the retail price, $16.

The Harvard Book Store's book-making robot.I have the feeling that someone must have put in a good word for me.

December 3, 2010

From Breakout to Space Invaders, All Over Again

In the past, I’ve written about game design as a new domain for automated discovery, in which one might build discovery systems which uncovered new and interesting knowledge in game design. However, unless you are already familiar with discovery systems, all this might sound too blue-sky to even visualize. So what does it even mean for machine to discover something about game design?

December 2, 2010

This APC, For One, Welcomes…

from Post Position
by @ 12:08 pm

APC: Thanks. It's a pleasure to serve you.

I was startled to discover these two things at the post office today, the immediate implications of this message:

  1. The US Postal Service has developed a kiosk/robot capable of experiencing pleasure.
  2. Said robot is stimulated pleasurably by selling me a stamp.

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