I am working on a “girl games camp” as a possible summer activity. I was drawn to it both because I am interested in coding myself and I want to get my own child interested in coding and because I have been disappointed by the relative indifference her school has had in engaging girls in general on the topic of coding.
So I can complain or I can do something. I choose do.
For those interested, I had planned a larger project that included each person building their own Raspberry Pi computer and then loading it with a Linux distro and working with plain text files, but, as you might have guessed, that seemed a little overly ambitious as well as, in some fashion, putting the cart before the horse. I want to get participants interested in coding, not necessarily getting them coding — and I think setting someone the task of editing config files in Linux is the wrong place to start. (I know, I once tried to start that way myself.)
The overall idea for this camp/experience is to get participants to design and develop their own text adventure game. I confess I am inspired by a wide range of recent games that, it seems to me, don’t stray too far from the early text-only games but use either very simple graphics, like Kentucky Route Zero, or use audio for immersion. I am especially blown away by the live-action game, Door in the Dark, which hoods participants who then walk through, quite literally, a sound stage.
One of the things I would like to be foundational to the experience is to have participants working on the same file at the same time — the wow factor here is pretty intense and I think it really emphasizes the power of collaboration. The simplest approach seems to be Stypi. It looks like I could sign up and then simply provide a URL for participants to use. There’s also FlooBits, but they appear only to offer public spaces with the free plan, and while I’m fairly certain that would be just fine, I don’t know that I want to subject these particular participants to any externalities.
What I want them working on, of course, is code for a text adventure game. Everyone seems to agree that Inform is the way to go, which describes itself thusly: “Inform is a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language. It is a radical reinvention of the way interactive fiction is designed, guided by contemporary work in semantics and by the practical experience of some of the world’s best-known writers of IF.” So, not text adventure but interactive fiction.
Some things I have noted for this project:
- The Verge has a story on some of the early interactive games on CD-ROM focusing on some runaway hits made by women developers that have been lost to the larger history of “computer/video games” — I wish I knew the proper name for this genre.
- On the topic of games, especially alternative games, Zoe Quinn has a post on BoingBoing on Punk Games.