[Boston] People's Republic of IF Meetup, Monday, September 2

Our September meetup will be on Monday, September 27, at the usual time (6:30, with migration to CBC for food/drink around 8 or so) and at the usual place (the Trope Tank, aka 14N-233 on the MIT campus). We don’t have any kind of official agenda as of yet, but here are some things we might discuss:

* Aaron Reed’s book is out, so we’ll probably discuss it some.
* The Tufts University IF month is coming up (October), and various of us are helping out in various ways, so we’ll probably discuss that.
* And, as usual, we’ll likely just yammer on about IF in particular and games in general.

Everyone is welcome, no matter your experience level with IF. If you have something particular you’d like to discuss or share with the group, feel free to do so. Note that we also have a mailing list, which is linked from our website (pr-if.org/).


This stuff is really interesting — I watched part of the stream of the playing of Zork at your first meeting. It makes me wish I lived in Boston, or that there were a similar group here in Toronto.

What we do have in Toronto is the Hand Eye Society bringing together indie game devs of all kinds, and I have found it a really exciting scene. Retro graphics are pretty much the de facto rule, and the thought keeps running through my mind, ‘If these people get so excited about blocky graphics with great gameplay, how much of a leap would it be to make a subniche for IF in this society?’

Of course, the society’s founder, Jim Munroe, is no stranger to IF. So if he hasn’t found a way, I also wonder if there just isn’t a good way to make IF social. (Or maybe there aren’t yet enough devs of this type in Toronto?) Anyway, I keep trying to think of ways to give an IF session a social element that will suck spectators more deeply into the game. Reading is a personal experience, I know, but performing isn’t, and perhaps having an announcer or something would work, but I’m still mulling this over. Maybe there are other creative approaches that haven’t occurred to me.

There’s just got to be a way to parlay all of this retro gaming social excitement in Toronto into getting more people investigating IF.


Well, Jim has a lot of things going on that aren’t IF, so just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it can’t.

Here’s how we ran our 2nd playing group, where we played Lost Pig:

  • Have a room with a projector and a (black|white)board.
  • Have a signup sheet for readers and interactors.
  • Get a volunteer to map.
  • Have one person interact while the whole group makes suggestions for what to do.
  • Have the reader read everything that happens.
  • Occasionally switch to a new reader and a new interactor.

It worked pretty well for us. It also helped that we had a decent crowd, maybe around 2 dozen. It was a pretty social and fun time. I would think you could do something similar. Either start with something old-school like we did with Zork, or go ahead and start with something new. I’ll bet having Everybody Dies there would get some local interest, and once people know what’s going on, you could solicit suggestions for other things to play.

Feel free to join the PR-IF mailing list (groups.google.com/group/boston-if) and ask for other suggestions for trying to get stuff going.


Thanks for the rundown, Kevin!

I’m also wondering if some kind of meta-game can help keep the crowd a bit stoked through the inevitable repetitive descriptions. Sort of drinking-game like, so that if you get the same description twice, you have to give up your seat at the keyboard or something – maybe the reader changes as well, so that you don’t hear the same thing again read by the same voice.

The goal of avoiding repetitious description to keep your seat at the keyboard (which I guess makes you arbiter of all the shouted suggestions) seems to me to run parallel to the successful solving of pretty much every game I can think of. Repetitious messages = failure, in every case I can think of, or at least enough cases. And it creates an environment where chair-swapping increases as success in the game decreases; this physical activity might fight the tendency for spectators to grow into lumps when an impasse is reached, and then eventually keel over. 8)

Anyway just a crazy idea that I thought of right this second. I’m likely to have more of them. Maybe I should test this stuff out with a personal group of friends, first.

That’s, if I had any personal Toronto friends still into IF. I used to, but the last holdouts besides myself finally lost interest in the last decade. Actually, maybe if I can think of an ‘IF party’ that can attract them back into playing, I’ll be onto something.


Edited to add: Perhaps a three-strikes-and-you’re-out approach would work even better for repetitious responses.

Our readers quickly (and informally) settled on the notion of simply skipping repetitive responses. They’re an inevitable part of attacking puzzles, but the audience doesn’t mind skimming over them if an approach didn’t work.

Or that. 8)