Some half-baked thoughts inspired by tweets from #creat_ed

21 June 2013

I’m not at the #creat_ed conference today but I’m keeping an eye on the hashtag via Tweetdeck, while simultaneously working (plugging away a bit more on ActiveLit).

I said the other day that live tweeting a conference is probably pointless, and I still stand by that - it’s pretty hard to figure out what’s really being said when all you have to go on are 140 character snippets.

That said, the tweets still provide some interesting jumping-off points for a few random thoughts - which is pretty much what this blog is all about.

So, I’m not necessarily responding directly to the tweets here (as I don’t have the full context), but they made me think some things.

Obviously not - who thinks that’s a good idea? But understanding a bit about coding, and creating some small programs or games, helps with:

  • thinking about things logically - how is the computer going to interpret what I've written
  • thinking empathetically - how are people going to respond to the thing I've created, will they be able to understand how to use it? Is it useful or fun?

Plenty of benefit there, and you don’t need to go into too much depth in any programming language to get some results.

I think we have to encourage young people to figure this stuff out for themselves. If they’re going to succeed they need to be self-aware enough to identify the skills they lack, and determined and ambitious enough to go and acquire them. For education to be worthwhile, it shouldn’t be about teachers filling in the gaps for their students, but inspiring the students to seek out opportunities and make things happen for themselves.

Thinking about career paths and “climbing the ladder” seems a consequence of the factory line of the education process. Children go in at one end aged 5, and there is a clear set of steps and progression taking them all the way to 21 when they leave university. Then they are spat out and left to fend for themselves. People latch on to what they see as the “next step” they have to attain, possibly without considering whether it’s what they really want.

Why is it up to teachers to be entrepreneurial themselves? Teachers work in institutions with long traditions and clear hierarchies. People who are naturally entrepreneurial don’t work well in this kind of environment.

Raise a glass

20 June 2013

BBC News reports on a 34-year-old woman being refused alcohol. Not normally news:

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives was refused alcohol at a Bruce Springsteen concert - because the barman did not believe she was over 18.

Ruth Davidson was at the concert in Hampden Park in Glasgow on Tuesday evening with the Tory MP David Mundell.

She went to the bar to buy Mr Mundell a beer but did not have any ID when the barman queried her age.

Ms Davidson, who is 34, joked about the incident on Twitter after being turned away.

She tweeted: "I got kb'd for not having ID trying to buy Mundell a beer at the Springsteen gig. He's 51. I'm clearly #34goingon17 #underage".

The Tory leader said the incident had "made her week".

Yes, being denied a basic adult freedom - LOL!

Quite clearly from the picture on the website, Ruth Davidson is not 17 years old, and the barman could presumably clearly see that. But he is under orders to treat every customer as a child until proven otherwise, and has no reason to use any discretion or judgement. There is a procedure to be followed and he must comply, and the rules are there for a reason, because could you imagine the carnage if a 17 year old ever got their hands on a bottle of beer?

So yes, let’s raise a glass to a culture that treat adults like children, where anybody in employment is discouraged from thinking for themselves. Just the kind of thing to put a spring in your step, apparently, if you’re a Tory leader.

Live tweeting

20 June 2013

I was at an event the other evening, which had an official hashtag as any self-respecting event must these days.

I particularly enjoyed this contribution to the live twitter stream, which was being beamed to a screen behind the speakers:


After all, what is the point of just condensing and relaying the things you’re listening to directly onto your Twitter feed? Anybody who cares is going to be at the event anyway. And if they couldn’t make the event, is the equivalent of a typed-out amateur radio commentary really going to provide much in the way of valuable information?

Even if you’re aiming to provide opinions and feedback, why not just slow down a little? Take notes, take a bit of time to gather your thoughts, sleep on it, and invest the small amount of time it takes to come up with a cogent and interesting argument in a blog post. It will live on the internet far longer than a transient tweet, and stands a much better chance of actually being useful to somebody.

QuestComp 2013 - the entries are in!

16 June 2013

The entries for QuestComp 2013 are now in! They are:

Worship the Pig by Heal Butcher

Pest by Jonathan Estis

Over to organiser, Evan Williams:

Score as 1 - 10, mark any discussion threads in the forum appropriately so people aren't led into spoilers accidentally, and I encourage you to post reviews on the game's page.

Since things are already off-kilter, we'll judge until we're done judging, but no more than a month from now.

If anyone else pops in and says, "hey, I got my game finished!" I'll leave it up to the judges whether they want to review the late entries.

Here are the rules for judges:

    • Judges are encouraged to play each game as long as they want and try to finish each one. However, they are not required to finish before voting (especially if the game takes more than about 1-1/2 to 2 hours). There is no minimum time length that must be spent on each game.
    • There is currently no minimum number of games which must be played to qualify the judges’ votes.
    • Anyone may judge.
    • Games should be scored on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being best.
    • Judges may discuss the games during the judging period, but should clearly mark posts/topics, for the benefit of those who want to avoid spoilers.
    • Beta-testers are allowed to vote on the entries they beta-tested.

So, please play the games and submit your votes by emailing Evan Williams at [email protected]

Now accepting all kinds of web-based text adventure games

11 June 2013

We’re now accepting a bigger range of submissions at

What does this mean? It means that all web-based text adventure games are now accepted!

Why do this? We want to make it easy for people to discover and play text adventure games without having to download any software. And for game authors, we want to make it easy for you to find an audience for your work.

So what can you now upload?

In addition to games developed with our Quest platform, you can also now upload:

  • self-contained .html game files - like those created by Twine
  • ZIP files containing a folder of .html, .css, .js, etc - like those created by Inform when you use the "Release along with an interpreter" option. (We even extract and display cover art!)
  • any other kind of text-based game that runs in a browser. Just upload a single .html file, or a zipped folder.

All uploads get checked by a moderator - so anything this is not a text-based game will be deleted. Categories work the same as before - you can select a category when uploading, but your game will not appear in that category until it has been checked. Work-in-progress, incomplete, test, tutorial exercise games etc. will be put in the Sandpit category.

We hope you enjoy the new flexibility. This feature has just gone live (you can submit games via this link), so please let me know if you encounter any problems uploading - you can email me at [email protected].

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