NarraScope in two quotes

Friday, July 5, 2024

Comments: 4 (plus live)   (latest 2 hours later)

Tagged: narrascope, iftf, zarf, if, interactive fiction

I haven't blogged about NarraScope, even though it's eaten the bulk of my energy and attention for the past two months.

(This is the silver lining of having been laid off in April. Free time to work on the conference! Mind you, that was also the silver lining of being laid off last May. At this point I'm full up on silver linings and could use some clear sunny skies for a while.)

Anyway! NarraScope went great. We ran it at the Strong Museum of Play, a pretty fantastic venue. I visited in 2013 but they've expanded since then.

The entrance to the Strong Museum. In the foreground is a fountain with a ten-ton granite sphere. This is objectively the best toy ever: a ten-ton sphere of granite that you can spin around with your bare hands. The Strong clearly knows its domain.

The Strong was more expensive than Pitt was last year. See our financial report for the breakdown. But IFTF is a donor-funded organization, and our supporters came through, so NarraScope happened.

Yes, there were some scary moments. I opened the conference by quoting the movie Shakespeare in Love, which I happened to rewatch in April. Early on, one character says:

Allow me to explain about the theater business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstables on the road to imminent disaster. But strangely enough, it all turns out well. I don't know how. It's a mystery.

That line is a leitmotif of the movie. I had it stuck in my head through April and May and June. But somehow everything turned out well.

Nat Clayton presents her keynote talk on stage. Behind her is a slide showing a videogame map. Justin Bortnick is slightly visible in the foreground. Nat Clayton, our keynote speaker. Knee by Justin Bortnick.

Now NarraScope 2024 is in the bag. (Except for posting the videos of the talks; we'll get to those as quickly as possible.) The finances are settled. We have started the email threads about finding someone to run NarraScope 2025.

And now I have a different line in my head.

Slowly he built up the image until it lived apart from his will, no matter where he turned his attention.

This is a description of ritual magic from a fantasy novel called Darkspell (Katharine Kerr, 1987). I don't particularly remember anything about the story -- I read it a long time ago -- but that line somehow caught in my head. "Until it lived apart from his will."

See, I first posted about NarraScope in early 2018. We hadn't even picked a name; it was just "Narrative interactive fiction adventure games convention." (NIFAGNCAAP?) It was a thing I really wanted to do, and I talked to people and passed out flyers and found more volunteers and... eventually we had a group of people who launched a conference.

Adri and I were co-chairs of that first conference. I did not chair again for the next few years. And the wacky part is, the conference kept going. It wasn't "Zarf's conference" any more. It happened because everybody wanted it to happen. It was a thing that lived apart from my will.

It's a mystery, or ritual magic, or something that we do.

Yes, I jumped back in as chair in 2023 and 2024. So my will has been pushing pretty hard for a couple of years. And, you know, I can feel the burn. Two years in a row is a year too many. But the point is that I can step back. Someone else will be there. Everybody will be there, come the day. The show will... you know.

Thank you all so much for doing it.

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