Automatic Typewriter Chooses Its Own Adventures – With Your Help


I remember back in, like, grade 3, sitting on the old black and white Mac, playing text adventures at recess when I should have been outside making friends… ironically, I never really understood them (the adventures, not the friends), and mostly tried to input obscene commands. As far as I recall, many of them actually worked. I dunno what that says about the writers of these games as people. Anyway, point is, interactive fiction is the tits, and fellow Torontonian Jonathan Guberman has decided to take it to the next (previous?) level with The Automatypewriter.

Cleverly-named until you realize it isn’t, the Automatypewriter is, expectedly, a typewriter that can type on its own – and additionally, understand what you’re typing, as well. By reading what it types to you, and responding, a user can potentially play all their favourite text-based classics from yesteryear. That’s Zork in the video, there.

But why do this when we can experience the same narrative on a screen? “Interactive fiction is a great genre that is too often overlooked,” says Guberman. “By providing a tactile and surprising way to experience these games, I hope to engage a wider audience. More generally, moving the platform to a typewriter highlights the role the user assumes as an ‘author’ in helping to create the story, and not just as a ‘player.'”

Pretty rad, Jon.

If you’re gonna totally geek out and actually watch the video, better put on some music, unless you’re one of those people who finds the click of a typewriter soothing or something.

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