A change in IFTF leadership

Dear friends,

Monday was my final day as president of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation (IFTF). My pride at what IFTF has become is eclipsed only by my gratitude that I got to help lead it for so long.

I’ve helmed the organization for seven on-paper years, but I count it as eight, with IFTF’s five co-founders spending much of 2015 cooking up the thing before we pulled the tarp off in the springtime of the following year. That lets me divide my tenure into two tidy four-year halves, with the first NarraScope as the dividing line, and that feels about right.

Working alongside the rest of IFTF’s early board members, the span of 2015 to 2019 often felt like a part-time job (albeit an entirely volunteer one). I put as much of my personal vision and energy into growing and defining the organization as anyone, right up to that amazing gathering at MIT—which, in retrospect, felt like a sort of graduation party. After that, my focus shifted from driving IFTF in new directions—its many programs and their own leadership were now doing a fine job of that—to evolving the organization itself, coordinating its programs, and thinking about successorship.

And on that note, I would like to introduce IFTF’s newest board member, and new president. I am sure I had NarraScope in mind earlier because NarraScope as we know it would not have happened without this person’s years of leadership within IFTF’s conference program. I speak of Justin Bortnick, who the board of directors elected as its new president last weekend.

Here is Justin in his own words:

Justin Bortnick teaches in the University of Pittsburgh’s Digital Narrative and Interactive Design Program. His research looks at how industrial game design methodologies have been repurposed in a new era of online misinformation and propaganda. He has worked as a writer and designer on a number of alternate reality games and video games, including Frog Fractions 2 (IndieCade 2017 Nominee). He is one of the original organizers of NarraScope and can’t say no to anything.

IFTF’s directors are impressed and energized by Justin’s vision for helping the maturing organization find new connections and opportunities in the larger world of arts-focused nonprofits. He also has drive for improving communications within IFTF, as well as between IFTF and the IF community that supports it—both areas, I don’t mind saying, that could have used some improvement while I was at the wheel.

I could go on about my belief that Justin’s experience and ongoing involvement with NarraScope—and the whole narrative-game community that defines it—will prove amazingly beneficial to IFTF as the organization and its leadership continues to evolve. But, prognostication is boring, and after seven-or-eight years in one chair the last thing I wish to do is overstay my welcome.

Co-founding IFTF will always have been one of the best things I did with my life. I could not be prouder of what I helped to build and shape, and I could not be more relieved to leave it in so many capable hands, Justin’s among them.

My most special thanks go to my fellow co-founders Carolyn, Chris, Flourish, and Zarf. Hey, that weird idea we had eight years ago ended up pretty good, I think!


Let me be the first to give the speech about how great it’s been working with Jmac on this silly idea. I mean, you know how the speech goes! But it’s true! You all just see our IF services running along as usual. They do just run along as usual, but that’s because we set up a functional organization behind them, and Jmac was a big part of that.

Now Justin gets to steer the ship of fools, and I am equally grateful to him for stepping up. We’ve worked together on NarraScope for several years now, so I know he is a good person for the job.


By the way: we’ve adopted term limits for IFTF board members, so you’ll start seeing new names more often than once every eight years. (My own stint on the board ends in twelve months.)


The MIT NarraScope was truly a magical weekend.

Thank you jmac for starting and leading such an incredible organization.


Thank you Jason and Justin!


Thanks Jason, and good luck, Justin!


Congratulations, Jason on becoming an elder statesman. Apparently this is when the big bucks roll in :smile:.

Best wishes, Justin and good luck!


Probably getting a cushy job with the rich and powerful IF lobby, plying his insider knowledge for the benefit of his new corporate overlords. :wink:


Good bye! And thanks for all the Fish!