January 25, 2006

Mary Ann Buckles Update

by Nick Montfort · , 3:53 pm

The San Diego paper has an aritcle, “Accidental traveler in a brave new world,” about Mary Ann Buckles, the first to undertake a serious, involved study of interactive fiction or any sort of computer game: “Interactive Fiction: the Computer Storygame ‘Adventure.’” As a New York Times story and Gonzalo Frasca’s Ludology.org noted a while back, Buckles seems to have been broken from academia by interactions with her committee and the PhD process, but to have kneaded herself into a career she’s enjoying – as a massage therapist.

The story ends with a tale of her recently finding some old boxes including things like her dissertation – and discarding them. Ah, well … at least the publication requirement in that wrenching PhD process means that she can shuffle her dissertation out of her life, where she’d like it to be, while those of us who find it useful will still have it to read.

2 Responses to “Mary Ann Buckles Update”


  1. Fox Harrell Says:

    It is not as if 21 years later there is no struggle in academia regarding these issues. It is interesting that her struggles were in a humanities department. Computing is not generally a much friendlier home.

    But how much of the struggle is due to the integration of fiction and computing, and how much is due to perceptions of the particular genre of interactive fiction?

    Nick, how would you have felt differently doing that work in an English or Interdisciplinary department?

    I would think that she wouldn’t envy Nick, but would feel validated and vindicated instead.

    Between Mary Ann Buckles and one of Chris Crawford’s posts it seems that there are cautionary tales here…and also people we should really respect for paving the way.

  2. scott Says:

    Whoops — I deleted a comment shortly after I posted it. It included a joking scenario in which Mary Ann Buckles might have a collection of Nick Montfort Voodoo Dolls, fictionally referred to as “Twisty Little Montforts” that she could wrench into uncomfortable positions while reading reviews of Montfort’s MIT Press book — shortly after posting it, I thought “well that might potentially be taken the wrong way or might even be offensive” and so out of respect of Dr. Buckles, I removed the comment. However, I see Fox’s comment might not make sense here without that comment, as Mr. Montfort pointed out in a short epistle. Mea Culpa, and agreed that she would most likely feel vindicated by the success of Small and Curvy Corridors.

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