The Exterminator’s Want-Ad

The Exterminator's Want AdThe Exterminator’s Want-Ad is a wickedly clever short story by Bruce Sterling (one of my favorite writers) about a dystopian future where political prisoners are sentenced to role playing games. Here’s a taste, for inspiration:

When we weren’t planting beans in the former back yard, or digging mold out of the attic insulation, we had to do rehab therapy. This was our prisoner consciousness-building encounter scheme. The regime made us play social games. We weren’t allowed computer games in prison: just dice, graph paper, and some charcoal sticks that we made ourselves.

So, we played this elaborate paper game called “Dungeons and Decency.” Three times a week. The lady warden was our Dungeon Master.


William Shakespeare, Game Designer

What if William Shakespeare had been a game designer?
Shakespeare Gaming

Wall Street Journal: You mentioned Shakespeare as one of your interests during your MFA [in theater directing]. What do you think he would have been like as a game designer?

Jonathan Knight: Shakespeare would have been on the forefront. He was an innovator and not just a great story-teller. Arguably, he’s more of a medium innovator. He borrowed heavily. “Hamlet” is a complete rip-off of a story on the prince of Denmark. Some people think he lifted it from a work that actually came between the two stories.

He was such a master at harnessing the new. For him, the new medium was open air theater on the south side of the Thames. He solidified a big portion of the English language with his plays much like Dante did with Italian vernacular.

James Knight interview @ The Wall Street Journal

Knight is executive producer of the upcoming videogame Dante’s Inferno, developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts.]

Interview by Jamin Brophy-Warren.

I’m reminded of Mark Twain, also a master of harnessing the new.

TypewriterTwain was fascinated, for example, by the typewriter; and he was the first author, or among the first, to submit manuscripts in typed, double-spaced format (as opposed to hand-scrawled in pencil, or worse yet pen).