Workshops

Over the past several years, I’ve developed several workshops on interactive storytelling for different audiences.

I’ve run all of these before, some of them multiple times; most can also be revised to suit a particular group if needed. For instance, the first workshop here I re-themed with story content about Ada Lovelace to make it suitable for a presentation at the London Science Museum.

If you’d like me to run one of these for your institution, please do get in touch and we can talk about duration, rates, etc.

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Introduction to IF using inklewriter.

This starts with 30-45 minutes of introduction depending on the audience, teaches basic concepts in branching narrative structure, and then lets the participants write their own short pieces with supervision over the next couple of hours. We conclude by having volunteer participants share what they’ve created and get feedback. (Typically not everyone wants to share, and that’s fine.)

Because inklewriter lets users create accounts, the students then have an IF work they can come back to and develop further on their own time.

Prerequisites: None. Suitable for participants 12 and up.

Duration: 2-3 hours. (3 hours recommended.)

Technical requirements: pens for all students, enough laptops for every one or two students (if they’re willing to share), as well as an active wifi connection so that they can get to the inklewriter site; a projector so that I can show my own materials.

Workshop size: up to 15; larger if teaching assistants are available.

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Introduction to Inform

Inform is a programming language for classic parser-based text adventures where the player types commands to move around. It is much more demanding to program with than inklewriter, but it fits in cases where the participants either really want to write that type of game or really want to focus on something with a more computer-science edge. More focused on concepts of simulation and gaming and less on story structure.

Prerequisites: Ideally the students will have encountered parser interactive fiction before. Suitable for participants 14 and up.

Duration: I have done this in one hour, but it was quite a brief overview in that case. 2-3 hours is preferable.

Technical requirements: enough laptops for every one or two students, with Inform preinstalled. (If they have the program, they don’t need live wifi at the time.) I also need a projector so that I can show my own materials.

Workshop size: up to 15; larger if teaching assistants are available.

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Collaborative Speed-IF

This is a directed workshop in which we collaboratively write a small, probably buggy, but nonetheless complete game, all the way from coming up with theme and gating elements to running code. We can do this in inklewriter or Inform, or optionally in some other system if desired. The process introduces concepts about planning and debugging. Tends to be on the intense side.

Prerequisites: Students have encountered the system of choice before.

Duration: Half-day minimum, including at least one half-hour coffee break during which everyone else gets coffee and I implement things that would not be fun to watch being implemented.

Technical requirements: Projector for my laptop, plus plenty of whiteboard or similar space for putting up group ideas.

Workshop size: up to 15.

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Conceptual Toolkit for Interactive Storytelling

This is a workshop focusing on what interactivity makes possible for stories, introducing concepts like exploration, challenge, moral choice, and complicity. We especially work on how to write interesting choices for an interactive story, through examples and brainstorming exercises. I use a custom card deck and some other physical props to direct participation.

Prerequisites: None. Suitable for 14 and up.

Duration: 1-2 hours.

Technical requirements: pens and paper for everyone, plus my props; ideally a projector or a large flipboard I can write on. This is the most flexible of the workshops I do. I’ve even run a variant outdoors.

Workshop size: up to 45; large workshops will have participants working in groups on some of the exercises.

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San Tilapian Studies

This is more of a simple narrative game than a workshop, but it introduces a lot of ideas about world building and interactive narrative in a lighthearted way.

Prerequisites: None. Suitable for participants 14 and up (and could be made suitable for younger participants as well if they were playing alongside adults).

Duration: Flexible. This is typically run in combination with something else (a party, another workshop, a games event) as an icebreaker. This is also straightforward enough that others have been able to run this game in my absence, and it can easily be rethemed for specific events.

Technical requirements: custom game elements, no computers. However, this requires consumable equipment that I need to prepare in advance, so this entails some additional planning and expenses.

Workshop size: 20-50.

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Game Mechanics and Story

A talk and activity set aimed at participants who are broadly interested in how games and story work together, going beyond “pick one of these options” choices to look at how story is constructed in video games with different kinds of player action available.

Prerequisites: This is a more advanced design workshop that assumes that students have some existing familiarity with both video games and interactive story, but it does not require any programming. I’ve run this workshop primarily for university students already in interactive narrative classes who wanted to dig deeper into game narrative design.

Duration: 1 hour for the short version, 2+ hours if we want to spend more time on activities and discussion (recommended).

Technical requirements: pens and paper for all participants, projector for my slide deck.

Workshop size: up to 30; activities are done in groups.

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Teaching Interactive Storytelling

This is a workshop for teachers. It assumes some familiarity with interactive story already, but provides an overview of many of the most popular creation tools and when they might be useful; introduces a number of resources; and demonstrates some of the exercises that I use with students in my other workshops.

Prerequisites: Participants already have played some interactive fiction and have an interest in related concepts.

Duration: half-day minimum.

Technical requirements: pens and paper for all participants, projector, and ideally laptops for everyone.

Workshop size: up to 15.

I also have a bunch of ideas for, but have not yet run, workshops on world building and puzzle design. If you’d like something like that, do get in touch.