Ballyhoo and the Epidemiology of Influence

Where did narrative games come from, and where have they been going?

The Craft of “The Craft of the Adventure”

The fourth edition of the Inform Designer’s Manual contains a singular feature: a generously sized chapter regarding authorial craft called, fittingly, “The Craft of the Adventure.” “Singular,” sadly, because that work was not continued as future versions of Inform crashed on the shores of our screens. Why not? It must be admitted that Graham Nelson likely has other things to do, and it seems ungenerous to ask yet another thing of him. There is an IF Theory Reader (2011) of similar vintage, and it contains many fine essays by equally fine authors.

I should begin by distinguishing between “craft” and “theory.” The two words are often mistaken for synonyms, but they are not. Craft is practical, while theory tends to be made of more airy stuff. Craft is broadly accessible in a way that theory cannot be. One need not make interactive fiction to understand “The Craft of the Adventure.” It is common-sensical in the best and most flattering sense, in that it often puts into words things that we ourselves know but have yet to articulate.

Nelson’s abilities as a writer deserve credit, certainly, but he is also shrewd when it comes to subject matter and organization. The opening section, “A Short History of Interactive Fiction” is a creation story. This kind of narrative framing is very effective at seizing and holding the reader’s attention. The author and the reader are not so far apart: the words are not abstracted through a layer of technical jargon. Indeed, the subject matter never feels insubstantial or out of reach: caves in Kentucky, programmers at MIT, puzzles, the “rights” of players, and even narrative structures all come across as immediate and comprehensible.

Craft is broadly accessible in a way that theory cannot be.

That last subject, narrative structure, is why I’ve called you here today. Fear not, this essay is, like those before it, about Jeff O’Neill’s Ballyhoo. I’ve previously said that I consider it underrated, and so I do. I think that if you put it under a glass dome, suck the air out, and ignore its context entirely, you might call it an uneven game with interesting prose. But we don’t do that here. That’s been done already, and it doesn’t interest me. Presumably, it doesn’t interest you, either; why else would you be here? To get at the heart of my assertion that Ballyhoo is not only good but important, we have to talk a bit about craft and rhetoric, and, in my opinion, the model for that is still “The Craft of the Adventure.”

Revisting Nelson’s “A Triangle of Identities”

When I taught composition, I would speak to my students about what some authorities call the “rhetorical situation.” It’s a theoretical term that has practical, i.e., craft, value. Experts have used different definitions for the term over the years, sometimes arguing, but the important purpose of it is this: defining the context from which a piece of writing emerges. I usually talked about it in terms of these three things:

  • The writer (cultural background, conditions/occasion, purpose)
  • The subject matter (with its own history, context, etc)
  • The audience (like the author, they have their own cultural backgrounds, goals, and so forth)

This is a recipe for analysis that is quite practical. Is it comprehensive? Certainly not. In real life, the context of writing is harder to describe. There are currents or movements in culture that deny simple categorization. History can be a sticky mess, and what reader can be so sufficiently self-critical that they see all of their blind spots and assumptions? Fortunately, it is often enough to say a thoughtful and well-observed thing, and a basic conception of the rhetorical situation can produce such outcomes.

I see Graham Nelson’s “A Triangle of Identities” as a model of rhetorical analysis specifically tailored to an interactive medium. Is it the first of its kind? I think it is the first impactful model to push toward practical interactive fiction craft advice. If you casually mention narrative voice and structure in parser interactive fiction at an online hangout, the triangle of identities may be mentioned. Without letting the details slow us down too much: what is it?

I see Graham Nelson’s “A Triangle of Identities” as a model of rhetorical analysis specifically tailored to an interactive medium. Is it the first of its kind? I think it is the first impactful model to push toward practical interactive fiction craft advice.

The shape or model as described by this triangle consists of three, named sides: protagonist, player, and narrator. Nelson’s analysis focuses on the points of intersection between these elements. “Intersection” can imply many types of encounter: synthesis, collision, a proving of strengths. Under this model of analysis, the narrator and protagonist form a vertex. In a traditional writing or literary studies sense, one question to be asked at this vertex is: how “close” are the narrator and protagonist? Does the narrator see the protagonist’s thoughts and comment on them? In the early Infocom games, (let us set Suspended aside as an odd case), the narrator was distant and mostly objective. Zork’s famed opening sentence is a marvel of terse impersonality:

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

So distant is Zork‘s narration that only the manual (or memories of Crowther and Woods) will directly suggest the player’s goal. The narrator of Ballyhoo, our current game of interest, offers more insight into the protagonist’s motivations. Let’s consider its opening once more:

As you trudge along in the wake of the outflowing crowd, you thumb through your memories of this evening. Your experience of the circus, with its ballyhooed promises of wonderment and its ultimate disappointment, has been to sink your teeth into a candy apple whose fruit is rotten.

Never mind the outrageous prices, the Mt. Everest vantage point, the communistically long lines, the audience more savage than the lion act. And it wasn't the shabbiness of the performances themselves that's got you soured on Spangleland. No, instead it's that the circus is a reminder of your own secret irrational desire to steal the spotlight, to defy death, and to bask in the thunder of applause.

This narrative voice, with its cynical editorialization, use of metaphor, and insight into the protagonist’s motives is closer to the character’s shoulder, so to speak. Speaking of this specific passage, Nelson asserts that “Many players will have no desire for any of that: but then the narrator is not talking about the player, only the protagonist.”

So far as the relationship between player and protagonist goes, interactive fiction has a long tradition of celebrating its own use of self-insert characters. For instance, many have believed that anybody could be Zork‘s protagonist, the Adventurer. Besides its perceived inclusivity, the self-insert strategy enables the player to see themself as the star, a winning and understandably enjoyable experience. The protagonist of Ballyhoo, on the other hand, is not the player. No, Ballyhoo‘s main character is not made of the sort of rich portraiture we can find in printed fiction (of any genre), but they are Infocom’s next convincing effort, post-A Mind Forever Voyaging, to realize a specific, original protagonist.

So far as the relationship between player and protagonist goes, interactive fiction has a long tradition of celebrating its own use of self-insert protagonists.

Finally, the triangle portrays the intersection of player and narrator. This encounter seems to offer up that controversial tendency in text games toward self-referentiality. For instance, those moments where the narrator turns toward the camera as if to address the player directly. Some bits of the “parser songbook” have been criticized for mocking the player. On the other hand, reaching through the screen can be a kindness. Take this quip from Ballyhoo, which prevents the player from making the game unwinnable:

The image of a burning bridge suddenly pops into your mind as you veer away from the turnstile.

Were we to take things in total, we could write a decent review or essay based on the framework provided by the triangle. Ballyhoo has, measured against the games of its time, a protagonist with a personality and idiosyncratic motivations. Most of us would say that we are not this protagonist. Furthermore, we could point to elements of narrative style (humor and figures of speech) as illuminating the character. The net effect of self-aware narration could be discussed. If we wanted to go even further, we could provide examples from other games.

And Yet…

As you returning readers know, I do not believe that games are produced in a vacuum. I don’t think that we play them in a vacuum, either. When I hear “all men are created equal” or “the protagonist can be anyone,” I can’t help but point out that such phrases depend more on their framing than on their content. Infocom’s games are cultural products of the eighties and late seventies. There was no company-wide commitment to protagonists who could have, in fact, been anyone. It is a little naive to suggest that media is inclusive unless stated otherwise. When Graeme Cree asserts (as quoted by Nelson) that, “In Zork, you’re just some anonymous guy who was walking by the white house,” I agree. The Adventurer is indeed a guy, presumably one that could enjoy anonymity at MIT’s Dynamic Modelling Lab in 1978.

Marc Blank declared the Adventurer male in Zork III. Brian Moriarty made the hero of the Enchanter trilogy male, too. Dave Lebling, on the other hand, took heroic pains to avoid gendering that same character in Spellbreaker. What we can learn from these particulars is that inclusivity involves effort, and failing to mention something is not effort. I say all this to say that, perhaps in our history of assessing and reassessing the interactive fiction canon, players have tried harder to make the Adventurer an “everyperson” than Infocom did.

I have seen it suggested elsewhere that the protagonist of Infidel might be a woman, so long as we ignore this, that, or the other thing. The detective in the Witness could be anything or anybody! …that a high-ranking police detective in 1938 Los Angles County might be, anyway. Deadline’s “Chief of Detectives” is demographically constrained, too. Morever, in both of those mysteries, many in-game responses assume a straight male protagonist.

Why belabor this point? Most of you must have been convinced at some other point in this site’s two-year history that the cultural context of a work is inseparable from its meaning. This distinction between assumed and declared inclusivity illustrates the important role that readers play in creating the meaning of a text. This is missing, I think, from the original discussion of the triangle of identities. Ideas like “self-insert” are bound to the player’s ability and willingness to see themselves in the story. Or, if they are a well-meaning sort, they might be a measure of how much one likes the idea of someone else seeing themselves there.

This distinction between assumed and declared inclusivity illustrates the important role that readers play in creating the meaning of a text.

There is probably also a link between protagonist characterization and fantasy fulfillment. To complete the Zork or Enchanter trilogies is not to experience a power fantasy. The heroes of those works do become powerful, but their progressions through their respective stories are not articulated through expressions of power. The Enchanter, for instance, is casting spells, but these aren’t typically Gygaxian lightening or meteor storms. The Enchanter performs close magic after the style of Ricky Jay. They (I will honor Lebling’s efforts with my choice of pronoun) work with what is at hand. I have called Enchanter and Zork alike fantasies of mastery, which is exactly what they are. Reach all the rooms, get all the things, solve all the problems. What is mastered? Within the idiom of parser gameplay, the answer must be the geography. It is the model that contains the objects that gate the geography that, in turn, comes between the protagonist and their just ending.

We could also call them fantasies of competence or utility.

The kind of openness that a self-insert protagonist affords (should one feel part of its “everyone”) aligns perfectly with these fantasies. The heroic trait of those protagonists is problem-solving acuity, which must be the player’s strength, as well. They are only as smart as we are, after all; these are not role-playing games.

It’s constructive to consider the development of interactive narrative in those early days as an evolution from implicit and uncharacterized protagonists to explicitly characterized protagonists. Perhaps, more remotely, there is a movement toward realizing objectives beyond mastery. Ballyhoo is an important step on this path, which… I really should get to talking about.

The Epidemiology of Influence

What is the big “so what” of all this talk? As I said more than once in Gold Machine’s series on A Mind Forever Voyaging, Interactive Fiction is, in the 1980s of the United States, the laboratory in which interactive storytelling entered an important phase of its history. By “interactive storytelling,” I am suggesting that we think beyond the constraints of what is customarily called “interactive fiction.” Narrative games are everywhere today. Where did they come from? My position is that they came from games like A Mind Forever Voyaging, Trinity, Plundered Hearts, and the like. And, of course, a million other things, but let’s stay with interactive fiction.

“That can’t be true,” someone might say, “The Last of Us is played with a controller! What’s that got to do with typing?” My response is that I never mentioned gameplay mechanics. Story and gameplay make for productive partnerships, but I don’t accept the premise that cultural influence is genetic. That is, I don’t think that a biblical “and Zork begat Curses and…” describes movement in culture. A genetic model might be a good way to describe technological or mechanical progress, but Gold Machine is ultimately about Infocom games (and games generally) as cultural objects. They can be analyzed in terms of their rhetorical situation. Graham Nelson’s triangle of identities affords another model of analysis. In both cases, we are describing complex, cumulative systems that often have complex, compound ingredients.

A genetic model might be a good way to describe technological or mechanical progress, but Gold Machine is ultimately about Infocom games (and games generally) as cultural objects.

As I’ve said before, cultural context is often too complex to be described in terms of inheritance. It is more accurate to see things in terms of currents, of hydrology, or even of the air we breathe:

The truth is that Zork and Deadline are part of a 40-plus-year conversation about the problems and advantages of agency in interactive media, just as games as different as Shin Megami Tensei V and The Last of Us Part 2 are.

Maybe it is helpful to think about epidemiology in a search for models of influence. The contagion–influence–is something in the air. It’s catching! Things may mutate along the way. We can arbitrarily say a game is patient X. In fact, that’s an interesting thing for a critic to do. However, we should not to limit our explorations to the passengers that shared Zork‘s (for instance) plane. Where did those passengers go? What did they touch? With whom did they come in contact? Perhaps you would rather it be Adventure’s plane, or Oregon Trail‘s plane. I don’t really care about that, since it doesn’t change what other important games have done. A Mind Forever Voyaging doesn’t suddenly become less influential if we say that Space War started it all. Remember: I’m not interested in genetic models. I’m interested in what gets in the air and what we can observe about the “spread” of the contaminant or infectious agent.

Maybe it is helpful to think about epidemiology in a search for models of influence. It’s interesting, but hardly productive to limit our explorations to the passengers that shared Zork’s plane. Where did those passengers go? What did they touch?

We don’t have to read or know Shakespeare for him to influence our culture. We don’t have to like him or his work. He’s just out there, now, touching and having touched a ton of cultural objects, and we can’t get him back in the jar. This kind of influence isn’t limited to so-called “canonical” literature and the like, of course. All of Gold Machine assumes that video games are culturally significant. Ballyhoo, within that larger context, makes three very important contributions to the evolving field of interactive storytelling: subjective complexity, gender specificity, and a player-centered model of time. Even if commercial parser games are incredibly rare today, that doesn’t matter to us, because we aren’t talking about mechanical descendants of Zork. We’re talking about Ballyhoo, a cultural object that won’t go back in the jar.

…Speaking of Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo is the first Infocom game in which the player can designate the sex of the protagonist. The choice is binary: the protagonist must punch out either a pink or blue dot on their ticket before entering the midway.

A brightly colored, yellow ticket to "the travelling circus that time forgot. At bottom are large blue and pink dots. Beneath, a bolded text reads "Don't miss Rimshaw the incomparable!"

These options are limited or limiting in today’s terms, but they were a big change within what can feel like a boy’s club. I’m not throwing stones at Infocom specifically, I think this was true of gaming at large (with some very visible exceptions, of course!). Besides Spellbreaker, the only pre-Ballyhoo Infocom game that I felt was truly open (rather than merely vague) was Suspended. It goes out of its way to declare the protagonist a non-person, and being anyone and no one are in many ways the same thing.

What does choosing a gender do, either narratively or mechanically? The difference is largely existential: declaring sex is important because it is a choice. Some pronouns shift based on the decision, but such cases are surprisingly few (I welcome corrections from people familiar with the code). Instead of having to guess the author’s intent, players can decide for themselves. The player is asked: given this option, how would you define this character? Cumulatively, this decision contributes to Ballyhoo‘s novel emphasis on the subjective experience of its protagonist, acting in concert with elements already discussed: tone, humor, and close narration.

Instead of having to guess the author’s intent, players can decide for themselves. The player is asked: given these options, how would you define this character?

That isn’t all. Ballyhoo‘s dramatization of time is centered around the protagonist’s actions. Unlike time as simulated by Deadline‘s objective, external clock, Ballyhoo‘s conception of time is subjective. The clock advances only when certain milestones are reached in play. Jimmy Maher explores this novel design tactic in depth:

Now, though, the story moves forward only when and as the player’s actions make it most dramatically satisfying to do so, rather than ticking along according to its own remorseless timetable. So, for example, Comrade Thumb will struggle to get a drink of water from the public water fountain at the beginning of the game for hundreds of turns if necessary, until the player helps him by giving him a boost. He’ll then toddle off to another location to wait for the player to enter.

This approach places the protagonist at the center of the world of the game. Ballyhoo, when it’s firing on all cylinders, goes where the player goes. Mechanically, there are snags. It isn’t always clear what will advance the clock. This experience is not exclusive to parser narratives. I think most of us who have played Sierra games have repeatedly revisited locations to see if anything has changed, clicking on everything in desperation. My recent playthrough of Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within (1995), afforded many such moments.

I think most of us who have played Sierra games have repeatedly revisited locations to see if anything has changed, clicking on everything in desperation.

Maher brings up an important point of divergence here: simulation versus narration. Time in Deadline is simulated, while time in Ballyhoo is narrated. In contemporary parser interactive fiction, doors are a hot topic. They resist change after deployment. In vanilla Inform 7, you can’t remove or destroy a door. That is, you can’t simulate the destruction of a door. You can, however, narrate the door’s destruction. You can lie about its existence, prevent the player from referring to it, and so forth. How important is it, in terms of player experience, to accurately model something?

By dramatizing rather than simulating time, Ballyhoo makes the protagonist’s subjective experience a central, unifying element of its design.

The Inner Lives of Circusgoers

Ballyhoo‘s emphasis on the protagonist’s subjectivity is most readily and memorably seen in a play sequence that I will call “the journey within.” As a ticket holder, the circusgoer (as I’ll sometimes call our protagonist) is entitled to three experiences with the sideshow mesmerist, “Rimshaw the Incomparable:” palm reading, phrenology, and hypnosis.

>rimshaw, hypnotise me
You settle into the tufted leather sofa and Rimshaw the Incomparable approaches you purposefully. Poised in front of you, the hypnotist points both of his hands' tension-filled fingers at you and commands, "RE-LAX!!! Now count backward slowly from 100."

With transcendental calm you begin mouthing the words one hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight ...

Your mind begins to drift back, back, back into the most recently forgotten past ...

Standing Room Only
You're in the "blues," sitting high above the arena floor. You know the exit from the grandstand to be vaguely eastward and down. All around you the crowd is in a state of pandemonium.

Mechanically, the journey within resembles a time travel puzzle. The circusgoer is subjectively reliving events from earlier in the day. Both the player and the protagonist (along with the protagonist’s close friend, the narrator) enter this scene as blank slates. There is no recollection of what should happen or what has happened in this setting, other than general implications of dissatisfaction or even disenchantment found throughout the game. After a few turns, it becomes clear what the player’s goal is:

Time passes...

You hear a loud growl nearby.

Time passes...

You hear a loud roar nearby.

Time passes...

You realize the noise is your own stomach.

The presentation here is important. The circusgoer is not hungry in the way the protagonists of Planetfall and Enchanter get hungry. Nobody is going to starve, here. Instead, discomfort is merely part of the overall ambiance of failed nostalgia found throughout Ballyhoo. Things keep going:

A hawker appears at the west end of your row, calling out in a sing-song manner, "Get your yogurt here. Get your New Coke here."

>buy new coke
The hawker can barely hear you above the crowd noise. He flashes one finger, then eight fingers, then five fingers at you, and gestures to pass the money through the crowd.

>pass money
(to the hawker)
Your $1.85 is passed from hand to hand all the way down the row. As the hawker pockets your money, he's suddenly engulfed by the crowd, which erupts into a standing ovation. The state of riot panic continues for several anxious moments.

When it becomes clear that the circusgoer cannot buy concessions from their seat, they must plunge into a maze-like complex of “rooms” in the grandstand. While it is not complex enough to be called a puzzle, it absolutely is large enough to annoy anyone (or at least remind them of being annoyed) familiar with mazes of identically-described rooms.

A snippet from the invisiclues map for Ballyhoo. It consists of 14 rooms with identical names. The name is "standing room only."
Detail from the Invisiclues map for Ballyhoo

Throughout the experience, players may wonder: are these events conveyed accurately, or are they distorted by the subjectivity of the protagonist? Remember that there is a layer of narrative obfuscation not present in the rest of the story: the narrator gives an account of a lost memory, not an account of the world, and memory is fallible.

The protagonist, in their experience of the circus, is having one of those days in which nothing seems to go as it ought. Escaping the grandstand isn’t the end.

You're famished.

The circusgoer is still hungry. Worse still, they have a literal monkey on their back:

You plow your way downward through the crowd all the way into the wings.

In the Wings
The big top can be entered to the north and exited to the south. To the northeast, the grandstand begins its precipitous rise.

As you exhale a sigh of relief, a smallish and hairy animal inexplicably plops down upon you from the upper reaches of the big top.

>examine animal
"Obsessed" though you may be, that is no metaphorical monkey. It's high-strung, ill-mannered and foul-smelling.

The scene grows increasingly impressionistic: the circusgoer’s inner life and objective existence are hard to separate. We have a hostile geography delineated by the movements of crowds and a physical manifestation of the protagonist’s hunger.

It’s rather high-concept in theory, but in practice O’Neill keeps things grounded and accessible. His writing here is quite deft, blending humor, light misanthropy, and the surreal. The player’s objective is grounded as well: buying some food–any food–at a concession stand, monkey in tow. Unfortunately, there are two lines, and it always seems that the circusgoer is in the wrong line, even when they pick the short one:

>enter short line
You are now standing at the tail end of the short line.

Time passes...

The face of the man ahead of you lights up as he spots something. "Hey, guys! It's ME, Jerry," he yells to a sizable group nearby, and they approach.

Time passes...

"Haven't seen you turkeys in years. Howda hell are you guys?" They all reintroduce themselves. "Hey -- you clowns thirsty? Get in here, I'll buy y'all beer."

"You sure it's not a problem?" asks the catcher.

"Heck no, just scoot in right here."

With both your resolve and your heaving bosom firm against the crush of interlopers, you are nevertheless forced to backpedal.

Time passes...

Jerry continues ribbing the first baseman.

The solution, appropriate to the dream-like logic of the journey inward, is to get in the wrong line.

>get out of line
You hear an inner voice whisper, "Do I really want to forfeit my position in the long line?" To which you answer:

You nonchalantly walk away from the long line.

The monkey on your back nervously bounces its weight up and down.

>get in long line
A lot of other people must not have had the same idea as you, as they defect nearly en masse over to the short line. Steaming to the front of the line, you get a two-dollar-and-25-cent frozen banana pushed at you and are whisked to the side before you can even count your change.

The monkey on your back idly grooms areas of your scalp.

The protagonist can’t eat the banana; they can only use it to get rid of the monkey. When they talk to the hawker that disappeared with their money, they are told that someone sitting nearby has their food. That doesn’t work out either:

A man in the audience suddenly hails you, tossing the one-dollar-and-85-cent granola bar in your direction. It glances off your head, falls through the stands and right before it hits the ground, in a cold sweat you wake up ....

As in many time travel stories, the protagonist establishes a past that will match the future. However, while time travel presents the possibility of paradox, the journey inward destabilizes our perception of the game’s reality. There is an overlapping area between narrative objectivity and the circusgoer’s subjectivity. Where are its lines? When it comes to the nature of the “maze” in the grandstand, for instance, the circusgoer gets first, last, and only word.

There is an overlapping area between narrative objectivity and the circusgoer’s subjectivity. Where are its lines?

Even though Ballyhoo is usually reviewed as an uneven but interesting game, the journey within is consistently mentioned as one of its best parts. Why not? It’s innovative, skillfully written, structurally novel, and, yes, is an exciting foretaste of what interactive narratives can achieve while exploring a character’s subjective reality.

My Subjective Experience of BALLYHOO

Let’s start with this. In terms of puzzle design, Ballyhoo doesn’t always get motive right. There is sometimes a feeling of doing things because one can, or because one might expect something, some unknown thing, to happen. Jimmy Maher spends a fair amount time on that, and so do a lot of other critics. I’ll grant that as true. I’ll even grant that, in many conversations, this shortfall is important.

It isn’t very important to me, subjectively, in 2023. There are a lot of 1980s games with brilliant puzzle craft. I happily wrote a lot about Spellbreaker, one of my two favorite Infocom games. People write a lot of reviews focusing on puzzles. How much more can be said, nearly forty years later, about the puzzles in Ballyhoo? Or whether the player has a reason to scare the elephant?

Having replayed all of these games in succession, take it from me: nobody had ever made a game like Ballyhoo in terms of craft writing. Whether one prefers the style of Ballyhoo or Spellbreaker is a matter of taste, but they were, at the time of Ballyhoo‘s release, in a rarefied company of two. Both could be memorably and deftly surreal. Returning to Nelson’s model, I think that the distance between narrator and protagonist is one important distinction between Lebling’s and O’Neill’s authorial styles.

Having replayed all of these games in succession, take it from me: nobody had ever made a game like Ballyhoo in terms of craft writing.

That limited distance in Ballyhoo, of course, enables its subjective and impressionistic turns. For this, I name its moment an important one in the history of narrative games. Who can say how or where its concepts and strategies spread, after the fashion of the common cold or, barring that, a game of telephone?


After asserting that “nobody’s ever made a game like this,” I received some reader comments about circus-releated or -adjacent games of the 1980s. While I still believe that Ballyhoo is unique for many reasons, I thought mention those games here.

Can you think of more? Let me know.


After giving it some thought, I’ve decided that I won’t be covering Fooblitzky. It just doesn’t have the impact of Cornerstone, a non-IF Infocom product that I chose to write about. That means we have reached what is, for many people, Infocom’s Big Game: Trinity. I have some decisions to make about moving forward, but one way or another, you can expect content soon!

2 thoughts on “Ballyhoo and the Epidemiology of Influence

  1. Good timing on “Trinity” — I referenced Jimmy Maher’s superlative series on it in a recent Facebook post about the new Oppenheimer film. Maher’s essay on Los Alamos itself is one of the best things I’ve ever read on the subject.

  2. Just a reply to say I appreciate the interesting things you have to say about games that are coming from a fresh perspective. 🙂 Believe me, I had lots more to type in this comment like 5 days ago when I read this, and it’s all gone out in that time. So organizing your thoughts and writing them out in a coherent manner is WORK and even though I forgot everything I was thinking when I read it, you DID make me think at the time, and that’s an incredibly lovely thing!

Leave a Reply