Play This Stuff I Made

An endless list of dreams crushed by the coronavirus
The Infinite Catalog of Crushed Dreams (April 2020)

When you’re a college professor, you follow a different calendar from the rest of the grown-up world. There’s school and there’s summer, and that’s how you plot your time. Of course, a global pandemic wreaks havoc on this calendar. But usually, somewhere about now I stop thinking about the previous academic year and start looking ahead to the next one. My New Year begins on July 1, not January 1.

Since I’m closing the books on the 2019-2020 school year, I wanted to remind myself of all the projects I put out into the world during this time. Here in one place are all the critical-creative digital works I released in the past 12 months. I’ll write more about many of these projects later, so right now a blurb for each will have to suffice. Hopefully that’s enough to pique your interest…

  • Ring™ Log (October 2019) – imagines what a Ring “smart” doorbell cam might see on a Halloween night
  • An End of Tarred Twine (November 2019) – a randomly generated hypertext version of Moby Dick in Twine, with 2,463 pages and 6,476 links, and utterly impossible to make sense of
  • Masks (December 2019) – a short hypertext narrative inspired by the Hong Kong protests
  • @BioDiversityPix (February 2020) – A bot that tweets random illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library
  • The Infinite Catalog of Crushed Dreams (April 2020) – An infinite list of hopes, dreams, and aspirations crushed by the coronavirus
  • Ring Pandemic Log (April 2020) – Using the same concept of Ring™ Log, this version imagines what a Ring camera might see during an early day of the coronavirus quarantine
  • You Gen #9 (May 2020) – the first chapter of a longer counterfactual interactive narrative about eugenics and gene-editing technology, set in the 1920s
  • Content Moderator Sim (June 2020) – A workplace horror game that puts you in the role of a subcontractor whose job is to keep your social media platform safe and respectable.

In general I was working in one of two modes for each project: procedural generation or interactive fiction. The former hopes to surprise readers with serendipitous juxtapositions and combinations, the latter hopes to entice readers with narrative impact. Whether I succeed at either is a question I’ll leave to others.

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