This is the Closest I’ll Come to a PAX East 2011 Post

All right, it’s been two weeks since PAX East and I might as well accept that I’m not going to do a proper post. Instead, I’ll summarize by saying that I had a great time and that it was wonderful to see a lot of the people in the interactive fiction community and have a chance to talk about IF for large chunks of my day. I got to re-connect with old friends and make new ones. I also played “Small World”, which is an excellent board game, so there’s that.

The highlight for me was undoubtedly the IF Demo Fair, which showed off various experiments with interactive fiction’s form, content, and demonstration. Of those, Aaron Reed’s “what if i’m the bad guy?” had the biggest impact on me. Like Emily, I found myself unable and unwilling to play through it in its entirety, in part because of it being in a public space and in part because of the content. “I gave up playing it” may not sound like high praise, but in this case it is.

I took part in a panel on Setting as Character, where we talked about how, in many games, the setting is part of the character. I was joined by Dean Tate, who was a designer on Bioshock and Bioshock 2 and thus had a lot of experience designing graphical worlds; Rob Wheeler, who, like me, has done a lot of work on setting in interactive fiction (see, for example, our two related but different takes on writing IF room descriptions in the IF Theory Reader); and Andrew Plotkin, who is all about cool settings.

There were other IF-related goings-on. There were panels like the Non-Gamers Gaming panel and Nick Montfort explaining Curveship, his IF design system that focuses on narration. There was the Speed-IF, in which participants wrote a short game in a matter of hours — see A Scurvy of Wonders for one such example. And then there was the point where a lot of us wandered into Chinatown in search of non-convention food.

To sum up: I had fun, there was a lot of IF stuff, A++++ would attend again.


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  1. […] relies heavily on storytelling through the environment. Not only is the setting nearly a character (a long-standing interest of mine), it provides optional backstory that players can pay attention to or ignore as they see fit. The […]