IFComp and The Unofficial Sea-Monkey(R) Simulation

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The twenty-third annual Interactive Fiction Competition, IFComp, is now open!  This year, I’ve entered The Unofficial Sea-Monkey(R) SimulationIn some ways, it’s a period piece, akin to some forgotten DOS game from the late ’80s.  The official blurb is:

Sometime during 1987, your father comes home from work–late, as usual. He tosses a small box onto the kitchen counter. “Here,” he says, “you wanted fish. You get these. Let’s see how you do first, and then maybe we’ll get a real tank.”

However, I did toy with a shorter blurb before ultimately deciding it was a bit too cheeky:

A story about growing up, as mitigated by brine shrimp.

There are eighty entries this year–by far the most ever.  There are a lot of great-looking games out there, and I’ve had the pleasure of beta-testing one of them.

Head on over to the main website and peruse the continuing renaissance in interactive fiction.  Anyone can serve as a judge in the competition.  You just need to play and consider five games in earnest before rating them.

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I, for one, welcome our compupoet overlords

Recently, I’ve expanded my exploration of computer-generated art from visual art (see The Art of the Bot) into my home domain of poetry.  This summer, I’ve been working with neural networks to rewrite many of the poems I’ve written over the past twenty years.  So far, I’m fortunate to have some lit mags interested in this kind of experimentation.  I was particularly fortunate to work with Empty State, which published five such poems written this way along with an essay exploring the writing process and whether or not poems (mostly) written by a computer can have meaning.

Eunoia Review published “ritual”, another computer-collaborated poem, and next year Palaver will be publishing another five poems along with an interview.

Kitschy title for this post aside, it’s been a very strange way to consider poetry.  Even though I’ve really enjoyed the creation of the poems, I still don’t know how I feel about the project–if it’s artistically innovative or barren.  But working with a computer, so far, has been a fascinating exercise in liberation from the tyranny of grammar, mechanics, and sometimes even sense.

 

ArtyBots

In my spare time, I’ve been building Twitter bots that create art.  It’s been a fun and interesting project, and I’ve created a separate, detailed post about them that muses on the intersection of art and computers.  Check out the art I couldn’t make, but my programs could!