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Emily Short's Blog   Expert Blogs


Emily Short is a consultant in interactive narrative, conversation mechanics, and procedural narrative. She has done work for Linden Lab, Telltale Games, Failbetter Games, ngmoco, ArenaNet, and AKQA, and was one of the project leads on the Versu project. She has also contributed substantially to Inform, a tool for writing interactive fiction. 

She blogs at about interactive fiction and story in video games, and can be reached at @emshort or [email protected]


Expert Blogs

Posted by Emily Short on Thu, 18 Feb 2016 07:50:00 EST in Design, Indie
Reviews that complain about the ending of Firewatch have misunderstood what the story is about -- though the midgame does contribute to that misreading.

Posted by Emily Short on Wed, 17 Feb 2016 02:08:00 EST in Design, Indie
That Dragon, Cancer tells the story not only of a child's death, but of the parents' struggle with faith, and their decision to keep believing. It's a very rare topic for games, honestly and observantly told, not capitalizing on a tragedy.

Posted by Emily Short on Fri, 30 Oct 2015 12:43:00 EDT in Indie
IF authors have been a source of quiet storytelling innovation for many years, recently feeding into commercial successes like 80 Days. This year's Comp showcases fresh talent, narrative experiments, and technical innovation.

Posted by Emily Short on Tue, 09 Jun 2015 01:20:00 EDT in Design
Argues in favor of conversational mechanics that offer the player both affect and diegetic agency, and provides some suggestions about design based on Aristotelian rhetorical categories, as well as experience from Versu and other projects.

Emily Short's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 06/09/2015 - 01:20]

This is where a follow-up ...

This is where a follow-up article would be appreciated that picks up where this one reasonably left off: how can a game creator tell a satisfying story when someone else can change the story as it 's being told r n r nFortunately I think the question of highly dynamic ...

Comment In: [News - 09/29/2011 - 04:31]

Hardly. But I felt that ...

Hardly. But I felt that Catherine -- especially through its questions posed to players -- was making an explicit claim to representing a universal system of interactions rather than just the specific experiences of specific individuals. And if you're making claims about how the whole world works, then those omissions ...

Comment In: [News - 04/23/2010 - 09:17]

@Bart: The problem is the ...

@Bart: The problem is the granularity of the decision-making. Modeling protagonist abilities with stats is fine when you've got a lot of small and relatively unimportant decisions that are intended to add up over time to produce a story arc. This is even more the case when you're combining stats ...

Comment In: [News - 04/14/2010 - 07:44]

@Yannick: Re. Don't you think ...

@Yannick: Re. Don't you think this might be exactly the point Frankly, no. It's possible to make characters who aren't pleasant or likable but who nonetheless feel rounded and human. These didn't. It's also possible to have a twist ending in which your choices turn out not to matter as ...

Comment In: [News - 01/11/2010 - 09:16]

@Jeffrey: I'm happy to discuss ...

@Jeffrey: I'm happy to discuss the merits or demerits of art -- indeed, I just did. I just don't find pretentious to be a statement about the art at all it's a statement about the artist/viewer relationship.

Comment In: [News - 05/14/2009 - 05:42]

1: My latest and best ...

1: My latest and best implementation of this system is built in Inform 7, which is a rule-based language with what sound like certain similarities to OPS5 which I haven't encountered before now . 2: When several perhaps many of an NPC's quips in an atomic system are all valid, ...