Interactive Fiction, Kickstarter, and the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative Project

by Hap Aziz

A little off the beaten path (though still in keeping with my blog’s thematic underpinnings of learning through play), I was pleased to find out recently that a project idea that I pitched to Kickstarter was accepted, and that I can now start raising funds through the Kickstarter.com website. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it is self-billed as “A New Way to Fund & Follow Creativity.” Basically, Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing website that allows a person with an idea to obtain funding in the form of contributions (not investment), with payback to the contributors taking the form of things produced by the project itself–like copies of a book, signed and numbered photographs, or free downloads of computer software. The projects themselves are creative endeavors such as photo books, board games, narrative films, musical performances, and so on.

The project I pitched is something I call the “Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative,” and my idea is to develop a work of Interactive Fiction that documents several aspects of historical Williamsburg. The Interactive Fiction framework will allow people to play the role of a character living in the time period leading to the independence of the original 13 colonies from England. The following is part of my pitch:

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.

So now I’m on the hook to develop my Interactive Fiction program. Appropriately, this project also has a connection to my doctorate program and dissertation topic, so I will be killing multiple birds with a single (or at least a few) stone(s). Obviously, the success of my Kickstarter endeavor will be dependent upon my funding goal being met. For this, I will be relying heavily on my social media network, which includes the readers of this blog. Keep watching this space! Soon you’ll see the announcement opening up the funding window for the project. It is my sincere hope that many of you will see value in my project and decide to contribute!

UPDATE March 1, 2012: “Colonial Williamsburg” is a registered trademark of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I have changed references from “Colonial Williamsburg” to “Historical Williamsburg” in this post.

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3 Comments

Filed under computer games, creativity, crowdsourcing, games, Hap Aziz, Interactive Fiction, Kickstarter, Kickstarter.com, narrative

3 responses to “Interactive Fiction, Kickstarter, and the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative Project

  1. I think this is a great concept. I know when my social studies teachers in school could make history come alive, I really learned it. For example, in 10th grade US History we spent about 3 weeks re-enacting the Constitutional Convention. About ten years later I was working for the Tennessee Supreme Court and the state decided to have a constitutional convention; the Judicial Department was one of the areas that needed revision. I was able to explain to everyone what would be involved! Make history an alive activity and people will really learn it.

    • There’s research showing that even reluctant readers will spend extra time playing Interactive Fiction and reading the material in that format. So I would love to see Williamsburg project have a measure of success. If it does, I’ll likely follow up with other similar programs. Even for people not in school but casually interested in history, this should have some appeal.

  2. Pingback: Kickstarter and Freedom from Publishers in Game Development | Learning Through Play & Technology

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