> interactive fiction & e-lit

Interactive Fiction Walkthroughs

Kelly Writers House · 3805 Locust Walk · University of Pennsylvania · Wednesday, October 27, 2004 · 5:30pm · Free, Open to the Public, No Registration Requried

Daniel Ravipinto and Star C. Foster present

Slouching towards Bedlam

Winner of the 2003 IF Competition and of four 2003 XYZZY Awards, including Best Game

Nick Montfort presents

Book and Volume

The first reading of a work in progress — coming soon to a site near you

Emily Short presents


Winner of four 2002 XYZZY Awards, including Best Game

Scott Rettberg

Hosts and interacts

Playing Virgil in these infernos

The Program

The "Interactive Fiction Walkthroughs" event, scheduled during the 2004 Interactive Fiction Competition < >, will provide an introduction to an intriguing form of computer literature and computer game that has been around for almost 30 years. Interactive fiction, also called text adventures or text games, has provided computer users with underground gaming and literary experiences through a period of university-based game development, and through a wave of commercial development, and now as independent writer/programmers have taken up the tradition. In "Walkthroughs," four leading interactive fiction authors will read from their work — all of which is available for free download online — as the founder of the Electronic Literature Organization interacts with these textual, virtual worlds and asks the authors about them.

The Programs

The three interactive fiction works that will be shown are intricate computer programs meant to provide hours of textually simulated space, puzzlement, and literary engagement. Like many other innovative works of interactive fiction, they have been developed quite recently, which might come as a surprise to those who only know of the Infocom games of the 1980s. The "walkthroughs" provided will be of the explanatory and architectural sort. While they will introduce the audience to these pieces of interactive fiction, be assured that they won't give away the overall, dazzling riddles of these works or spoil the experience of any of these pieces of interactive fiction for those who want to interact with them further.

The Participants

Star C. Foster's background in interactive fiction stems from a lifetime's love of writing and reading; her introduction to the genre came from games based on such works as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny. In addition to being the author of several short stories and a children's novel, Star writes nigh-daily for her website, Sarcasmo's Corner: < >. She has also had her prose adapted in graphic-novel form. Slouching towards Bedlam is her first interactive work. Star was born and raised in Philadelphia and lives in Center City.

Nick Montfort's interactive fiction includes Winchester's Nightmare (1999) and Ad Verbum (2000); he also translated Andrés Viedma Peláez's Olvido Mortal as Dead Reckoning (2003). Nick wrote Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction and co-edited The New Media Reader (both from MIT Press, 2003). He is co-author of The Ed Report and 2002: A Palindrome Story, blogs at Grand Text Auto, and is a director of the Electronic Literature Organization. He and Scott Rettberg wrote Implementation. Nick is a Ph.D. student in computer and information science at Penn. His site: < >.

Daniel Ravipinto's love affair with interactive fiction began at the age of eight, when Wishbringer told him he could open the envelope. It hasn't stopped since. His first interactive fiction game, Tapestry, won second place in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition. In 2003, his and Star Foster's Slouching towards Bedlam won first place. Both pieces were nominated for XYZZY Awards. Dan is a computer programmer, an amateur writer and musician, and a rabid game connoisseur. When he is not playing games, he is busy creating them for his independent company, Peccable Productions < >.

Scott Rettberg is assistant professor of new media studies at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, where he teaches in the literature program. Scott founded the Electronic Literature Organization and served as its first executive director from 1999-2001. He is a co-author of The Unknown, a Hypertext Novel, winner of the 1999 trAce/AltX International Hypertext Competition; the author of Kind of Blue, a serial novel for email (2002); and co-author of Implementation (2004). He is a contributor to Grand Text Auto, a collaborative research blog on digital narrative and games. Scott's site: < http://caxton.stockton. edu/ rettberg/ >.

Emily Short is the author of several award-winning works of interactive fiction that explore new possibilities in character conversation and physical world modeling. Her work Galatea is assigned reading in several new media courses; her most recent game, City of Secrets, was listed among the Games Magazine "Top 100 Electronic Games of 2003." She is currently editing a book on interactive fiction which explores the form both as literature and as game. Emily is also a graduate student in classical studies at Penn, and is completing her dissertation on the roles of Hermes in Athenian drama. She lives in the Seattle area. Her site: < http://emshort.home. >.