Upcoming online discussion: Collecting narrative games

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Comments: 1   (latest July 31)

Tagged: if, interactive fiction, archiving, libraries, ifarchive, ifdb, colin post

We've been planning this one for a few months, and now it's about to happen:

Collecting Narrative Games in Libraries: An Open Discussion

Two Zoom sessions (you can attend either):

  • Weds, July 12 from 7-9pm ET
  • Tues, July 18 from 12-2pm ET

Colin Post prepped this with his talks at NarraScope 2022 and 2023:

"My (Mostly) Frustrated Efforts to Collect Narrative Games in an Academic Library" (slides)

A look at the history and present challenges of developing collections of narrative games. I’ll reflect on my ongoing project to jumpstart a narrative games collection at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro.

"Cataloging Narrative Games to Expand the Bibliographic Universe" (slides)

Last year I detailed the efforts and challenges involved in collecting digitally-distributed narrative games at an academic library. Now, having acquired approximately 25 narrative games for the library collection, I have been working with librarians to promote discovery and access of these works.

The problem, in short, is that the IF community is very informal about publishing games. We post games on the IF Archive and personal web sites. Games in various competitions are generally copied to the IF Archive -- but not always. And we have no way at all to tell the more formal academic world, "Look, this is our history of IF; you can study it."

Academics and students do study IF; that's been going on for decades. But you can't go to your University library and check out the IF collection, because nobody gave them permission to have a collection. In the old days a library could buy games on disc (which is its own subject). But the modern IF community is entirely digital.

One possible approach is for IF authors to adopt some kind of standard license. "Yes, the IF Archive and other digital libraries can keep a copy of this work." Or something like that! Maybe we should connect our bibliographic database to library databases? Is searching IF a different subject from archiving IF? The details are very much up for discussion.

I'd love to see something like this happen, myself.

The next step is an open discussion and user study. All independent game creators are invited to participate. Yes, this means you get to be a lab rabbit, but only in the sense of "fill out a questionnaire." The point is to survey IF/indie authors about what they think about this sort of licensing framework. What do you want out of it? What are your concerns?

(Anybody can join in the discussion session. The survey part isn't mandatory. The results of the survey will be completely anonymous in any publication or use afterwards.)

See this forum post for info on participating. Contact Colin Post by email if you're interested.


Comments from Andrew Plotkin