Grand Text Auto

October 28, 2005

noulipo Experimental Writing Conference

by noah @ 1:19 pm

On October 28-29 (today and tomorrow) the second annual experimental writing conference hosted by the CalArts MFA Writing Program focuses on the legacy of Oulipo — the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (”workshop of potential literature”) founded in Paris 45 years ago. Comprising writers, poets, mathematicians and logicians, the group has formulated playful and exotic new “constraints” as alternatives to the hidebound rules of traditional literary forms. This conference presents two members of the group, including its current President, as well as a host of American, Canadian and English writers influenced by them in varying degrees: Caroline Bergvall, Christian Bök, Johanna Drucker, Paul Fournel, Tan Lin, Bernadette Mayer, Ian Monk, Harryette Mullen, Douglas Nufer, Vanessa Place, Janet Sarbanes, Juliana Spahr, Brian Kim Stefans, Rodrigo Toscano, & Rob Wittig (see schedule for details).

October 27, 2005

Only a Game Blog

by andrew @ 4:00 pm

Game designer, writer and book author Chris Bateman has a blog just a few months old called Only a Game. Lots of great lenghty posts to be found, including Between Stories and Games, Fractal Stories, A Template for the Future of the Game Industry, Grass Roots Gamers, Racheted Progress, and an extensive post-mortem (1 2) of a game he worked on.

Chris co-wrote the newly released 21st Century Game Design, was designer and scripter of Discworld Noir (UK, 1999), and is now the managing director of the game design studio International Hobo and a member of the IGDA Game Writers SIG.

October 25, 2005

Link Dump

by andrew @ 1:51 pm

The interesting links keep piling up:

The ongoing Helsinki lecture series “Games and Storytelling” has Gonzalo Frasca as a speaker on November 8, with an interesting talk title: “Mini-games, maxi-storytelling: looking at minigames as a narrative genre”. The previous speaker was Greg Costikyan, talking about “Constraining Interaction to Create Emergent Narrative”. (Reading Greg’s powerpoint slides, this appears to be a design-centric attempt to squeeze another drop of water from the rocks that are today’s AI-light game engines.)

Another European interactive narrative lecture series, sagasnet, is releasing a collection of papers called Developing Interactive Narrative Content, including a (new?) Michael Joyce essay, “Interactive Planes: Toward Post-Hypertextual New Media”.

Game Paused is an upcoming exhibition, book and DVD, still taking submissions, of all forms of art / music / games / what-have-you, inspired or motivated by the history of videogames.

Continuing our Nintendogs thread: a good essay analyzing the game-ness and explicit player rewards built into Nintendogs, illustrating how it advances the virtual pet concept.

Here’s a decent essay and survey of various visual styles in games, called “Videogame Aesthetics: The Future!”

Finally, on the indie game front: a candid interview with the lead designer of the critically-acclaimed Darwinia, whose game seems to leave American publishers uninterested; and Steve Ince reacting to an Adventure Gamers discussion that debates the $20 pricepoint of Bone. And Greg Costikyan in BusinessWeek on his startup Manifesto Games as “the Miramax of indie games”.

October 24, 2005

Sticker Literature That Says What You Want It To Say

by nick @ 2:14 am

… and Not Sticker Literature That Says What Someone Else Wants You Say. Well, that could have been the name of the project, but it’s called The Bubble Project. “I printed 15,000 of these bubble stickers and place them on top of ads all over New York City. Passersby fill them in. I go back and photograph the results.”

The Bubble Project

October 21, 2005

Digital Humanities Quarterly: Call for Scholarly and Creative Work

by scott @ 1:50 pm

Matt Kirschenbaum just sent out an exciting announcement about a new journal that will serve as a forum for scholarly and creative work in electronic media. Digital Humanities Quarterly will publish scholarly articles, editorials, experiments in interactive media, and reviews of books, web sites, new media art, and digital humanities systems. Importantly, this will be a free, open-access journal, and both critical and creative work will go through a peer review process.

Call for Submissions
Digital Humanities Quarterly

Submissions are invited for Digital Humanities Quarterly, a new open-access peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations and the Association for Computers and the Humanities. Submissions may be mailed to A web submission form will also be available soon.


October 20, 2005

IGDA Game Developers Demographics data

by mary @ 10:43 pm

IGDA has released their new report: Game Developer Demographics: An Exploration of Workforce Diversity on Oct 18. You can download it as a PDF.


culture as play

by mary @ 9:59 pm

Update from the Road: The Microwave International Media Art Festival is in full swing here in Hong Kong, focusing on “Culture as Play”; the program consists of two media art exhibitions, workshops, screenings, and a conference on new media. The game art exhibition space in City Hall is organized like a game level or maze; it’s quite a large space, really nicely set up, and positioned to receive many visitors to the government and cultural Hall. The exhibitions and screenings run for a month.

I visited City University of Hong Kong yesterday to talk to a games studies / theory class taught by Hector Rodriguez and on Saturday the full conference begins, featuring talks by Tobias Bernstrup, Martin Pichlmair, Paul Johnson, Katrien Jacobs, yours truly, and others. On the 23rd Mark Amerika will be speaking as the screenings and exhibitions continue.

New issue of Game Studies

by nick @ 12:28 am

Game Studies 5:1 is out. The new issue includes:

  • A survey method for assessing perceptions of a game: The consumer playtest in game design, by John P. Davis, Keith Steury, and Randy Pagulayan
  • The Hunt for Collaborative War Gaming - CASE: Battlefield 1942, by Tony Manninen and Tomi Kujanpää
  • Player-Centred Game Design: Experiences in Using Scenario Study to Inform Mobile Game Design, by Laura Ermi and Frans Mäyrä
  • Formal Models and Game Design, by Stefan M. Grünvogel
  • The Semiotics of Time Structure in Ludic Space As a Foundation for Analysis and Design, by Craig A. Lindley
  • What Wario Ware can teach us about Game Design, Chaim Gingold reviews Wario Ware
  • A Conversation with Raph Koster, Celia Pearce interviews Raph Koster
  • Can A Table Stand On One Leg? Critical and Ludological Thoughts on Star Wars: Galaxies, Timothy Burke reviews Star Wars: Galaxies

October 19, 2005

FuturePlay Writeup

by andrew @ 5:28 pm

The blog Gamecraft has a multi-part writeup (1 2 3 4) of last week’s FuturePlay conference at Michigan State. Also, Reality Panic has a bit of commentary and pictures.

October 14, 2005

DAC05 Program

by andrew @ 7:03 pm

Update: DAC 2005 is over - it was great! GTxA’s non-exclusive coverage of the conference is available:

Session 1, Session 2, Session 3b, Session 4b, Session 5, Session 6, Session 9, Session 10, Session 11, ELINOR reading, Mateas & Montfort talk

Digital Arts and Culture 2005, to be held this December in Copenhagen, looks to be a very stimulating event as usual. The list of papers is now online, including several scholars and artists you may be familiar with from discussions here at GTxA:

Ian Bogost: The Rhetoric of Exergaming
Espen Aarseth: Fiction vs Simulation in Games
Jill Walker: The Digital Aesthetisation of Oneself
Douglass, Marino, Dena: A Framework for Comparative New Media Studies
Scott Rettberg: Collective Knowledge, Collective Narratives, and Architectures of Participation
Michael Mateas, Andrew Stern: Procedural Authorship
Fox Harrell: The GRIOT Improvisational Poetry System
Stuart Moulthrop: Rethinking Scholarship in the Days of Serious Play
Michael Mateas, Nick Montfort: A Box, Darkly: Obfuscation, Weird Languages, and Code Aesthetics
Boehner, Sengers, Medynskiy, Gay: Technology between Art and Tool
Panel: Gameplay: The Great Debate (Juul, Bjørk, Aarseth, Iversen)
And many more beyond just this corner of the blogosphere (do spheres have corners?): (more…)

At EA, Coppola is Tired, Spielberg is Wired

by andrew @ 12:24 pm

On the heels of delaying The Godfather videogame until 2006 (a project Coppola is unhappy with and supposedly never approved), it was just announced that EA will be giving Steven Spielberg an office their Los Angeles studio, to work side-by-side with game developers to develop three yet-to-be-determined games.

Spielberg has been an avid follower of games for years. In a speech last year, he told film students they could change the face of filmmaking if only they played more video games.

Here is the full press release; read more about Spielberg’s take on the state of ludology vs. narratology from last year.

I’m a huge fan of Spielberg’s better films, and when he’s on his game, I think he’s great. But his game, as it were, is good ol’ fashioned linear storytelling. On these EA projects, I’m sure he can contribute to whatever narrative (presumably linear) is laid on top of the games, but it’s unclear what he can offer on the actual gameplay side of things. At worst, this seems more like a way to create a brand such as “Steven Spielberg presents…” to sell more games.

That said, I’m going to be optimistic about this collaboration. I’m curious what they come up with in a few years time. Let’s hope it doesn’t result in another landfill of E.T. cartridgesThe Dig indeed.

October 13, 2005

Your Title Here

by nick @ 7:12 pm

My Boyfriend Came Back from the War. (1996-2005)

The Space Under the Window. (1997-1999)

Le Nouveau Western

by nick @ 12:51 am

Tal Halpern’s “Le Nouveau Western,” a Turbulence commission, has just come online.

From Le Nouveau WesternMy first impression is that this is an intriguing segmented text, presented in a visually compelling way, with some interesting sound elements. It doesn’t take long to read through; I certainly recommend it. The interface is little more than a wrapper for this “content,” though, and there seems to be little that makes much interesting use of Flash here. (The main effect of the Flash implementation seems to be that there’s a delay between lexia, or at least, a more noticable one that is highlighted by a “loading…” notice.) To me the piece evoked Composition No. 1 and La Jette more than The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. It seems to be a good example of a rather tired electronic literature form, the “interesting notebook.” Maybe the form actually isn’t a problem; perhaps it’s that the interface somehow seems to suggest or promise more to me, leaving me a bit disappointed as far as interactivity is concerned?

Here’s another piece by Halpern, and an interview with him.

Any thoughts about “Le Nouveau Western”?

October 10, 2005

Affine Transformations

by nick @ 1:41 pm

Belatedly, I’ve written up a few thoughts about the provocative Kelly Writers House sessions I went to at the Elective Affinities conference. These were on September 27, almost two weeks ago, and I did not take any notes, but I won’t try to represent the particular statements and arguments of all the speakers - just my reveries. I hope that audio of all these talks will be online, soon; I’ll link it in when I find out about it.


October 9, 2005

Live at the IndieGamesCon (day 2)

by andrew @ 5:14 pm

Adding to yesterday’s coverage, I’m continuing to blog live today at the IndieGamesCon in Eugene, Oregon.

(Some fun news — they just announced Façade has won Most Innovative Game at the IndieGamesCon’s Player’s Choice Awards. It’s gotten good play and buzz at the show-off center here this weekend. :-) Almost no one had heard of it till seeing it here.)

back to the talks…


The Billion Dollar Indie Opportunity
Benjamin Bradley of GarageGames

only indies have the risk-taking ability to go after these 12 steps of indie success, that I’ll talk about here

We’ll also talk about China — every major game studio wants to go after China
But isn’t there no such thing as “indie” in China?

October 8, 2005

An Aubergine Grows in Manhattan

by nick @ 5:13 pm

I’m not blogging live, but wanted to mention something else interesting from Thursday at the NMC conference at Yale. I was glad to hear Bill Crosbie (Rutgers) and Jessica Hammer (Columbia) preaching the gospel of play in their presentation “Letting Go of the Reins - Giving Your Learners the Freedom to Play.” They explained to the attendees there some of the history of game and play research, and how many of the benefits that gaming offers may not fit into the “mandatory fun” situation of gaming in the classroom as it exists today. They also suggested the game Insaniquarium as something that had some of the qualities of SimCity, Civilization, and other complex simulation-based games, and was educational in similar ways, but which could be played in only a few hours. (There are other versions of the game floating around out there, nyuk nyuk, including a perhaps more extensive pay version for Windows. But this on ran on my Mac. And I definitely think you should be able to convert a Mac into an aquarium.)

Bill and Jessica are part of Eggplant (Educational Games Group: Play, Literacies, Avatars, Narrative and Technology Video Games Research Lab), an academic game research group with a lab space at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The new lab is also written up in a news item on the Teachers College site. I hope their vegetable game research may grow, vaster than Age of Empires and with Csikszentmihalyi’s flow.

Live at the IndieGamesCon (day 1)

by andrew @ 4:49 pm

I’m blogging live today and tomorrow from the Independent Games Conference, aka IndieGamesCon, in Eugene, Oregon, organized by GarageGames.

GarageGames’ introduction:
“It is now possible to quit your dayjob and support yourself making indie games”


Casual games panel

Casual games are currently a $0.5B business, may grow to 3x that in 2 years

Popcap — James Gwertzman, previously of Escape Factory and Sprout Games, now the new director of business development for PopCap
Mobile casual games are becoming big
I’m concerned about venture capital money coming in and not keeping eye on short-term profits — there’s a danger there

A Dialog on Gaming and its Potential

by nick @ 12:53 pm

I took the first train of the morning up to New Haven on Thursday, arriving just in time to speak last on a panel called “A Dialog on Gaming and its Potential” at the New Media Consortium New England Regional Conference. I gave a short talk on IF, mainly to evagelize about the form to the courseware creators, educators, and educational IT folks who were there. I wish I could write up my reaction to the panel, but I missed almost all of it! From the Q&A, I gathered that it was pretty good.

Fortunately, Ruben Puentedura, who organized the panel, is going to put audio of everything online, so I (and anyone else who wants) will be able to hear what transpired. Check the wiki that he’s set up for some resources related to the panelists’ discussion; that’s where the audio of the panel should appear in the future, too. Hopefully the dialog will continue there (and here, if anyone likes), and I’ll have a chance to try to understand the other panelists’ positions on gaming in conversation.

The Electronic Literature Collection

by noah @ 9:55 am

The Electronic Literature Organization has just announced a new project, the Electronic Literature Collection.

The Electronic Literature Collection will be an annual publication of current and older electronic literature intended for individual, library, and classroom use — and will be open to interactive fiction, interactive drama, literary games, and other forms of interest to GTxA folks. The publication will be made available both on the Web and as a packaged, cross-platform disc, in a case appropriate for library processing, marking, and distribution. The contents of the Collection will be offered under a Creative Commons license so that libraries and educational institutions will be allowed to duplicate and install works and individuals will be free to share the disc with others. The Collection will feature a variety of electronic literature in many forms and genres — a broad selection of quality work. This will include new work that has been selected by editors as well as notable electronic literature from the past. (more…)

October 7, 2005

WSU Vancouver Seeks Digital Technology & Culture Prof

by nick @ 5:30 pm

WSU Vancouver, in the Portland area of the Pacific Northwest, has a program in “Digital Technology and Culture, a liberal arts-based curriculum exploring relationships between technology and meaning-making both in historical and contemporary contexts.” They’re seeking an assistant or asssociate professor. See below for details…


Final Week of Chatbot Survey

by andrew @ 5:08 pm

If you haven’t yet, be sure to participate in this chatbot research survey that ends in one week! The research is being conducted by Mark Marino, who blogs by night at WRT. Also, check out his latest post on i.plot, an interesting program he and I saw demoed at last July’s Siggraph.

October 6, 2005

Where to Find a Game Scientist?

by noah @ 11:21 am

Jim Whitehead, whose email this summer kicked off a thought-provoking GTxA thread on game curricula, has sent me another interesting message. He writes because the Computer Science Dept. at UC Santa Cruz has been given the authority to hire a tenure-track faculty member (assistant professor) whose research interests lie in computer games. His question:

I was hoping you might have some insight on where we could advertise this position. We’re frankly a bit stumped on how to find a gaming-interested person who has strong technical research credentials.

Now, certainly there are places to advertise for people with strong technical research credentials who want to be in the game industry — who want to focus their research on an imminently shippable product. But where does a place like UC Santa Cruz advertise for someone who wants to do academic, technical game research? I somehow don’t think the Chronicle of Higher Ed reaches all of their target audience, but technical game research doesn’t exactly have a plethora of journals in which to run display ads. Any thoughts?

October 5, 2005

How Stella Got Her Text Back

by nick @ 4:19 pm

This is a version of my Elective Affinities talk “How Stella Got Her Text Back: Trajectories of Word and Image in Creative Computing” given on September 26, 2005, at the University of Pennsylvania.

Stella Title Slide

October 4, 2005

Rhapsody in Base

by nick @ 6:53 pm

All Your Base Rhapsody: Demonstrating that, despite what you might believe from watching Highlander, not every media experience is enhanced by a Queen soundtrack.

game writer’s conference

by mary @ 5:48 pm

Oct 26-27th, the first annual Game Writers Conference will be held in Austin TX. A former Human Code person, (where many a fab person worked), Susan O’Connor, is the chair of this year’s conf. It’s going to be a great chance for writers to meet face-to-face…for writers from other disciplines to find out what game writing is all about…for devs who want to make more engaging games…and for students who want to meet the writer of Half-Life 2!!

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