We tried an IF Writers' Workshop...

At the last PR-IF (Boston) group meetup, Nick Montfort suggested a writers’-workshop event, and we did it this afternoon. This is a quick write-up of the event – in case anybody else wants to try to organize such a thing.

Summary: it was a good idea.

The ground rules were: it’s open to anybody, but you must bring an in-progress IF work to show and allow everyone to discuss. (Because, first, everyone will be more open to criticism if they are all engaged at the same level – everybody is appearing as an IF creator, everyone has something at stake. And second, everyone has a motivation to sit down and get some damn IF code written in the preceding week. :slight_smile:

We didn’t lay out formal “constructive criticism, say something nice” rules, but that was the intent and I think we all stuck to it. We also presumed that what’s presented in the group stays in the group – it’s not a public release.

We wound up with seven people and six games (one was a collaboration of two writers). The meet-up lasted three hours, so more or less thirty minutes per work. They were all shortish – introductory scenes of games – so it was really about ten minutes of play and twenty minutes of discussion.

We met at a coffeeshop, which was pleasant in terms of muffinry but somewhat cramped in terms of table space. Everyone had laptops etc, but it proved more effective to put the largest laptop at one end of the table and load all the games onto it. (Hint: everyone bring your game on a USB drive.) It would have been even nicer if someone had had an external keyboard, to prevent having to reach across the laptop to type.

We looked at a little bit of source code for one game, but that was not a big focus of activity. Nor were programming questions – we talked about interactivity, game design, and prose, not how to do any given thing in I7 or etc.

Everybody came away satisfied and we will try this regularly, probably monthly. Next time we’re going to try to grab an MIT room with a screen projector.

A logistical twist of the “you must bring work” rule is that one person can’t organize it every month. (Maybe you’re working on a giant game and will have more WIP every month for the next year, but I certainly won’t. :slight_smile: So an important step at each meeting, or on a mailing list, is for someone to step up and say “I will be there next month and I will take care of naming a date/time/location.”

Does that cover it?

Thanks for the report. I definitely encourage the use of a projector, I think it’s been a real plus at the Seattle IF meetings in general and worked great when we workshopped one of our member’s games a few months ago.

I don’t often wish I lived on the other side of the atlantic, you know. It only happens in times like these. Sigh…