February Link Assortment

The classic IF magazine SPAG has been, for most of the years since the mid-90s, a source of IF interviews, reviews, and news. The last couple of years it has been on a bit of a hiatus, but it is now under the management of a new editor, Katherine Morayati, and is once again soliciting content. Details are here, and you should get in touch if you have something you’d like to contribute.

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In addition to this resurrection of an old classic, the IF scene has also seen the appearance of an all new IF-focused zine, IFography. The first issue features an interview with Geoff Moore, author of Surface and Witch’s Girl, together with some reviews and essays.

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This is not a new piece, but I just ran across it: Autumn Nicole Bradley’s review of Hanako Games’ Magical Diary covers the game’s pro-adolescent worldview in considerable detail — a view that respects the autonomy and intelligence of young people and treats their decisions as non-failures. Worth a read. It is an article from ZEAL magazine, a Patreon-supported project that focuses on covering less-known games.

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Holly Gramazio has written a poem about game design and bees. My favorite verse:

When designing an FPS for a team of bees,
Make sure that the drones feel valued.
Provide a sniper role for them to fulfil,
Waiting and watching,
Honing their hive-born abilities.

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Maddy Myers writes on the emptiness of video game romance, and the difficulty in believing that the NPCs exist when she’s not interacting with them:

Usually, in Bioware games, their trust towards you is built upon them asking you to do them a big favor (rescuing a dangerous artifact, saving their hometown, blah blah)—this is not only a transactional approach to relationships, but also, a theatrical and unrealistic way to expect people to interact.

Overall, the piece gets at some of the same issues raised in Creatures Such as We.

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Kotaku ran an exchange of letters about representation of blackness in video games, by several black devs, journalists and critics. I especially appreciate Austin Walker’s point about non-black authors needing to make sure they’re researching their black characters and communities using materials that themselves present a variety of black experiences. And several of the contributors recommend specific books and TV shows about that might help with that.

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New Stories Retreat is a weekend-long retreat in May, in Olympia WA, for interactive story creators of various kinds — LARPers, tabletop RPG creators, and game designers — and organized by Avery McDaldno, creator of Monsterhearts and some of my other favorite tabletop storygames. This sounds pretty cool to me. (Canceled, alas — see comments.)

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ParserComp, a competition for parser-based games only, is running now through the end of March 14. You can find the games as well as criteria for judging at the ParserComp site.

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AdventureJam is a forthcoming 14-day game jam for adventure games. IF and text adventures are explicitly welcome, as are more graphical variants.

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