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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Photopia and Galatea are not iterations on interactive fiction, but something entirely new that happen to use the same form.

This post contains spoilers for Photopia and Galatea


Last time I looked at two examples of contemporary interactive fiction that were iterations of the classic text adventure genre. If I can borrow from Scott McCloud’s Six Steps of Art from his book Understanding Comics, those games sought to adjust and play with the craft and structure of their chosen medium. Photopia and Galatea are not iterations, but something entirely new that happen to use the same form. The two games I want to talk about now dig down and look at what the form of interactive text can accomplish and focus instead on the story and form levels of McCloud’s same steps.


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Not limited by what can actually be represented on screen, interactive fiction can stretch the limits of creators' (and players') imaginations as well as create deeper narrative interaction.

Gaming is a large and vast medium, and yet game critics tend to only focus on such a narrow margin of that whole medium. Big studio blockbusters and certain types of independent games take up the limelight and the column inches, as it were. Very little gets mentioned outside certain parameters. Even in this more indie friendly climate, so much gets lost or pushed aside.


There are plenty of games not within the normal parameters of the gaming mainstream that don’t get their criticism. They have much smaller and more niche audiences. One of those wells that I’ve been dipping into lately is the world of interactive fiction. The genre is an evolution of the text adventure had the genre never moved past the text parser and into the realms of graphical interfaces. Not limited by what can actually be represented on screen, they can stretch the limits of their creators’ (and players’) imagination as well as create deeper narrative interaction.


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Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013
I don’t know if there is a more complex, divisive part of fan culture than cosplay. The fact that it is an artform that trades on the use of people’s bodies’ means that it’s treading into murky political waters by its very definition.

A recap of part one and part two: the Expo Hall is an over-crowded high stress environment with little reward, whereas the Tabletop area is a calm arena of interest and wonder. The panels are hit or miss, but either way, you have to show up early to get in. And being a game journalist at one of these events isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, except when it is. Oh, and there are lines for everything.


That last one doesn’t go away as we reach the end of this little guided journey through PAX East. In fact, I think it stands as probably the single common denominator for all PAX experiences. I got to experience much at PAX East, as I generally try to see everything I can at least once, but it isn’t possible. Going in you have to know what you are at the convention for and must be steadfast in what you want to do there. Wavering costs you time, which in turn leads to waiting in lines even longer. A dreadful fate indeed.


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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013
This is a gamer’s convention. Even waiting in line, we will game.

Last time I talked about the Expo Hall, the show floor for video games, and the Tabletop area, the show floor for non-video games. They are, however, a fraction of the entire convention.


They comprise the majority of the bottom most floor of the convention center. The floors above it consist of a single hallway that wraps around the inside edge of the building leading to various rooms filled with various additional activities. The most notable, or at least the most widely advertised, are the panels.


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Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013
Among all the masses of people attending PAX are an equal number of varied experiences and varied interests, some quite similar and others so fundamentally different that they don’t even begin at the same place. And somehow PAX finds a way to cater to them all.

PAX is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Regularly the show and its Boston counterpart (the one PopMatters was nice enough to send me to) attract attendees in the tens of thousands. Each show has been larger than the previous one to the point that they no longer bother keeping track. Among all those masses of people are an equal number of varied experiences, some quite similar and others so fundamentally different they don’t even start at the same place. Their interests, their goals, their purposes and day-to-day, minute-to-minute desires are all fundamentally different. And somehow PAX finds a way to cater to them all.


Now this is true of any convention large enough to need police to corral people into the correct lines at the start of the show. And thanks to my press badge, my experience was going to be fundamentally different to the vast majority of people in attendance. PAX East is a fan convention, and while it may have started as a way for Penny Arcade to create a convention dedicated to all the things that site’s proprietors love, it really has moved beyond them. There’s a good chance that if you talk to a random person at the show that they wont know what Penny Arcade is or anything about it, only that they loving gaming, and that this is a convention hosted in their town or, as in my case, on their coast as a celebration of gaming. That part of PAX has remained the same.


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