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The Unexpected Resurgence of Interactive Fiction

Ben Collins-Sussman (Google, Inc.)
Geek Lifestyle
Location: D138
Average rating: ****.
(4.19, 16 ratings)

The history of interactive fiction is anything but predictable. What began as simple cave simulations in the ‘70s became blockbuster commercial games in the ‘80s. And yet the genre never actually went away; since the death of Infocom 20 years ago, an intense indie community of hackers & writers have continued to develop the form into a full-blown artistic medium that has gone further than anyone ever predicted. Along the way, some amazing open source software tools have been part of the evolution: reverse-engineered virtual machines, domain-specific programming languages, and jaw-dropping IDEs. And with mobile devices taking over the market now, many believe interactive fiction is poised to become mainstream again.

Come learn about the history of this unique genre and the open source tools that make it possible! You’ll also learn how to get involved in the community—either as a player (trying some mind-blowing new works), or as a programmer/writer. The intersection of creative writing and programming will both amaze and delight you.

Photo of Ben Collins-Sussman

Ben Collins-Sussman

Google, Inc.

Ben Collins-Sussman is one of the founding developers of the Subversion version control system, and co-authored O’Reilly’s “Version Control with Subversion” book and more recently O’Reilly’s “Team Geek: a Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others.”

Ben co-founded Google’s engineering office in Chicago, ported Subversion to Google’s Bigtable platform, led Google Code’s Project Hosting team, and now manages the engineering team for the Google Affiliate Network. Prior to joining Google, Ben was a senior software engineer on the version control team at CollabNet. He has been an active open source contributor for over twelve years, contributing to projects related to version control and gaming.

Ben collects hobbies which tend to explore the tension between art and science. He has given numerous talks about the social challenges of software development. He writes interactive fiction games and tools, and was the co-winner of the 15th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. He has co-authored several original musicals and received multiple awards for musical theater composition. He has an Extra-class FCC license for amateur radio, and also spends time learning DSLR photography and playing bluegrass banjo. Ben is a proud native of Chicago, and holds Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Chicago with a major in Mathematics and minor in Linguistics. He still lives in Chicago with his wife, kids, and cats.

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Comments

Picture of Ricardo Signes
Ricardo Signes
08/01/2011 6:52am PDT

This was nicely presented and, I thought, seemed like it might really get people interested in playing, writing, or hacking. I’m already an insider, so it’s hard to say, but I will say this: OSCON talks on community often focus on community in general, which is hard to take in and often comes off as speculation rather than description. This talk presented the history of a community along with several entry points to it, allowing the audience to go see for itself how the community works. I think that’s a much better approach.

Casper Bodewitz
07/27/2011 8:27pm PDT

Thanks Ben you renewed my motivation to pick up the natural language gaming again! Great talk, very engaging.

Picture of Suzanne Axtell
Suzanne Axtell
07/27/2011 3:21pm PDT

Excellent presentation, well done on all fronts. I’m totally new to this topic and feel inspired to dig deeper.

Picture of Noel Hidalgo
Noel Hidalgo
07/27/2011 2:47pm PDT

an amazing presentation and great story telling…