To follow up on Mark Sample’s evocative metaphor of carpentry as a way of approaching ideas in the humanities, I’d like to propose we look at the production of playful things (from bots to video games) as a way of transforming our relationship with text.
I’m particularly interested in ideas drawn from electronic literature, procedural narratives, adventure games, metagames, alternate reality games, and other twisting objects that invite play. The digital humanities approach to “critical making” has shown up at several THATCamps through workshops on non-programmer friendly games software and tools such as Twine and Inform 7, sessions on wearable electronics and 3D printers, and everything from scavenger hunts to fake alien invasions. But when we go home from THATCamp, the vast majority of humanities scholarly activity is still business as usual. Why so serious?
I’m currently working on a project exploring Alice in Wonderland through a short platformer, animation, comics and a procedurally generated text. I’d love to talk to other people today who are making playful (if perhaps unpublishable?) things.