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A Big Thanks to our “Enterprise” Backer

Tony Guzman gets the recognition for being our Enterprise Backer, and we’d like to extend our appreciation here. What is the Enterprise Backer, you ask? Star Trek fans should get the reference: with Tony’s funding contribution, we have hit the $1701 mark. That’s 1701, as in the number of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

We also want to thank all of our backers for being so generous. Without your help, we wouldn’t have exceeded our funding goal!

Setting the Stretch Goal

Even though the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative has reached its funding goal, there are 16 days left in the funding period, and we want to put that time to good use. To that end, we are setting a stretch goal of an additional $500 in funding (for a total of $2000 altogether). These additional funds would go toward increased research resources and even some money to market the finished product to the target audience (educators, historians, and IF gamers).

Unlike the initial funding goal, the stretch goal does not have to be hit for us to make use of the additional funds. So at this point, every backer contribution helps us move the needle. Please spread the word and help us to continue to raise funds for the project.

To go to the Kickstarter project page, click here.

Research Assistance for the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative

Today I had a very pleasant conversation with a representative of Mfa, Ltd., a firm out of NYC that handles the marketing for Colonial Williamsburg. My Kickstarter project came up on their radar, and they were very interested to learn more about it, what the inspiration was, and so on. It was a very nice surprise to learn that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation encourages these types of projects and activities. (By the way, “Colonial Williamsburg” is a registered trademark–which is why I’m not using that phrase–but they were the ones that suggested I use “Historical Williamsburg” for the project.)

One of the outcomes of my conversation today was an offer from Mfa, Ltd., to put me in touch with some of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation researchers to help me gather information for the project. This is a very exciting development, and while it’s not an “official” approval of the work, it will certainly help things move along!

For Novices: The Top 5 Interactive Fiction Games

Getting into Interactive Fiction isn’t the easiest thing to do, as far as playing a “new” computer game genre goes. In the early 1980s when IF was popular–and the distractions of graphic computer games was non-existent–people spent significant time in the games, reading the stories and situations, thinking about how to respond, and considering the possible (or probable) action choices to take. In the days of playing Colossal Cave and Scott Adams text adventure games, the simplicity of the parser forced people to think in terms of two-word commands. That had the effect of narrowing action choices to some degree, which was probably a good thing as the genre gained its following. As Infocom released its games with more sophisticated language parsing capabilities, the potential for action and conversation was greatly multiplied. But most Infocom players likely had an introduction to the genre that helped to educate them in the conventions of IF communications.

Today, learning IF games can be difficult for several reasons. Finding a local IF community can be difficult (okay, impossible in most cases), which means that players need to rely on online resources–if they can successfully find those. The computer gaming paradigm has shifted greatly over the past few decades, and as a result, people’s expectations for game experiences is quite different.

Fortunately, there are freely available resources that help ease a new IF gamer into the genre. Instructions, primers, and how-to guides can be found by searching the Internet. And there are many good games suitable for novice IF gamers. This article on the gamer site 1up has listed what could be considered the top 5 games for Interactive Fiction beginners to try first. Try your hand!

While the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative isn’t being developed strictly with novices in mind, if it will be used in the teaching and learning environment it will need to be something that students can easily pick up on. To find out more about the Kickstarter project, please click here.

Coming to Kickstarter: The Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative

What is the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative?

Imagine Interactive Fiction crafted around real places and people in history, where not only can a person read about settings and events, but the person can be a part of the unfolding story as an actual character. The intent of the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative project is to build the geography, culture, and characters from the years surrounding the birth of the United States in Williamsburg, Virginia, using the literary format of Interactive Fiction. This three-phase project will include the development of functional maps, the architecture of the historic buildings, and interaction with significant characters such as Patrick Henry and George Washington. Each phase is a project milestone, completion coming 150 days after start.


The Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative is three things:

  • It is a computer game: Individuals will “play” a character out of the historical times around the date of the American Declaration of Independence. They will be able to interact with actual historical figures of the day that lived or visited Williamsburg, Virginia, and they will learn about the events that brought the 13 colonies to sign the Declaration on July 4, 1776. The game environment will be an accurate map environment of Williamsburg as it existed then, and players will be able to roam the streets, enter the buildings, and go anywhere as they encounter people from the past with stories to tell. The game will be in the format of Interactive Fiction, which you can learn more about at the Interactive Fiction Wiki here.
  • It is a history lesson come to life: If you are someone interested in the history of how the United States was formed, the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative will be one of the best ways to learn it. Like a time machine for the imagination, it will transport people back to the days of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Peyton Randolph, where they can learn about the events of the times by talking with these historical figures. Whether you are a history buff, history teacher, or just a fan of Interactive Fiction and period pieces, this game will have something for you.
  • It is a Kickstarter project: If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter.com, then you should check it out here. Kickstarter is a wonderful way of funding projects, where individuals may donate funds (in small amounts or large, and anything in between) to get a project off the ground. The Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative is a Kickstarter project, and it will be launched officially sometime in April. More details on participation and rewards will be coming, so you can check back here–or better yet, subscribe to this blog for updates on the project.

This is an exciting project to launch, and we hope to have your participation and support! And be sure to pass the word to anyone that you think may be interested in bringing the history of Williamsburg, Virginia, to life!