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IF and poetic design at AdventureX

This year I was able to attend AdventureX, an event geared towards narrative and writerly games. The venue, at Goldsmiths University (southern London) was not exactly easily accessible but the warm atmosphere and casualness of the event more than made up for any shortcomings.



If I had to pick two talks among the range of subjects broached, they would be:

  1. Emily Short‘s summary of interactive fiction’s “past futures”, aka the breakthroughs in IF that seemed like the Next Big Thing at different points in time, but which somehow turned out to be… well, excellent features, but not in any way trend-setting or definitive. With her characteristic humour, Emily introduced her talk with some words to the effect of “since I am apparently awful at predicting the future of IF, here’s a review of all the times I have been very wrong about it”. It was actually a very knowing, informative and comprehensive roundup of innovations in interactive narrative.

  2. Alexis Kennedy‘s talk on “poetic design“, on which I have written extensively for GameCrimes. Kennedy was the founder, writer and thinking head behind Failbetter Games until he left recently, so it’s really worth pondering his ideas on how to emphasize and boost the expressive power of storytelling in the game without necessarily running up a massive wordcount – something we narrative designers tend to do only too often. Read all about it here.

In my mind, the “poetic design” behind Fallen London brings a (perhaps fittingly steampunk-ish) echo of Ada Lovelace’s “poetical science”.

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