The IF Theory Reader

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Comments: 2   (latest 13 hours later)

Tagged: if, theory, books, design

A project born in the shadowy depths of IF history has suddenly breached and flipped its tail gaily in the sunlight.

The IF Theory Reader was conceived back in 2001, by Emily Short and Dennis Jerz. They collected a stack of essays from various people active in IF at the time. But the project fell victim to life-scheduling issues, and it sat on the shelf for (if you can imagine such a span of time) ten whole years.

This past fall, Kevin Jackson-Mead volunteered to take over the project, and Things Began Happening. He dusted off the old essays and began contacting the authors. And now -- to cut a great deal of editing work short -- the IF Theory Reader is available as a free PDF download. (Or, if you are attached to the smell of paper, you can buy a POD volume from lulu.)

So is it worth reading dusty IF history? Well, I haven't read it yet. But I can say that the book really represents a tour through the past ten years of the IF community's thinking. Some of the essays are from 2001; some have been revised for this edition; some are brand-new. Many have been published in other forms, so if you've been devouring our blog posts and essays for the past few years, you will see few surprises. But if your awareness of IF dates from the last century -- or if you've been following us only casually -- I think this book has something to offer.

For the table of contents, read on.

  • Crimes Against Mimesis -- Roger S. G. Sorolla

  • Toward a Theory of Interactive Fiction -- Nick Montfort
  • Characterizing, If Not Defining, Interactive Fiction -- Andrew Plotkin
  • not that you may remember time: Interactive Fiction, Stream-of-Consciousness Writing, and Free Will -- Mark Silcox
  • 2 Brief Dada Angels -- Ryan Stevens, writing as Rybread Celsius
  • Object Relations -- Graham Nelson
  • IF as Argument -- Duncan Stevens
  • The Success of Genre in Interactive Fiction -- Neil Yorke-Smith
  • Parser at the Threshold: Lovecraftian Horror in Interactive Fiction -- Michael Gentry
  • Distinguishing Between Game Design and Analysis: One View -- Gareth Rees
  • Natural Language, Semantic Analysis, and Interactive Fiction -- Graham Nelson
  • Afterword: Five Years Later -- Graham Nelson

  • Challenges of a Broad Geography -- Emily Short
  • Thinking Into the Box: On the Use and Deployment of Puzzles -- Jon Ingold
  • PC Personality and Motivations -- Duncan Stevens
  • Landscape and Character in IF -- Paul O'Brian
  • Hint Development for IF -- Lucian Smith
  • Descriptions Constructed -- Stephen Granade
  • Mapping the Tale: Scene Description in IF -- J. Robinson Wheeler
  • Repetition of Text in Interactive Fiction -- Jason Dyer
  • NPC Dialogue Writing -- Robb Sherwin
  • NPC Conversation Systems -- Emily Short

  • 10 Years of IF: 1994-2004 -- Duncan Stevens
  • The Evolution of Short Works: From Sprawling Cave Crawls to Tiny Experiments -- Stephen Granade
  • History of Italian IF -- Francesco Cordella
  • Racontons une histoire ensemble: History and Characteristics of French IF -- Hugo Labrande

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