Emily Short is a game designer specializing in interactive narrative, dialogue, and social interaction modeling. She has written over two dozen works of interactive fiction, including the award-winning Galatea and the interactive epistolary story, First Draft of the Revolution, and is part of the design team behind Inform 7 and Versu.

Solo Game Releases

Counterfeit Monkey.
A text adventure of word manipulation.
"It's like Portal for English and it's amazing." -- JP LeBreton

An interactive fiction about conversation with a single NPC. Galatea has been displayed at the Library of Congress, assigned as reading in a number of college courses in interactive literature, and included in Volume 1 of the Electronic Literature Collection.

Creative Tools

Inform 7. A natural-language tool for creating parser-based interactive fiction. Provided beta-testing, design feedback, testing modules, user support, and over 400 code examples that are distributed to all users as part of the system.

Versu. A tool for creating stories with AI-driven agents. Developed the tool alongside AI designer Richard Evans, and subsequently for Linden Lab. Contributed much of the social practice-based behavior library, including a fluid model for multiple-character conversation, and hooks to connect simulation behavior to scripted narrative scene changes. Developed and released several apps including Blood & Laurels.

Varytale. A tool for long-form choice-based interactive fiction. Provided beta-stage feedback and created one of the launch stories for the project.

Selected Client Projects

Procedural narrative consulting for Telltale Games, May 2014-January 2015.

Ultimate Quest. A text adventure for the advertising firm AKQA as part of an NVIDIA project launch. Provided content, collaborated with technical staff and artists, subcontracted testers, and provided live hint support via Twitter while the contest was running.

Writing for Sunless Sea and Fallen London for Failbetter Games, including stories for the islands of Nuncio, Visage, and Station III.

First Draft of the Revolution for Liza Daly and in cooperation with inkle studios. Designed a new epistolary interaction concept and wrote all content.

White-label puzzle game for Popular Science magazine. Provided a multi-stage challenge designed to get readers to engage with the then newly-launched online archives.

Code and narrative content for an unreleased project by ngmoco :), May 2010-June 2011.

Emily has also contributed to a number of smaller projects, including providing feedback on games in progress, writing game scripts, and advising traditional authors and publishers looking to break into interactive content.

Game Industry Employment

Creative director of Versu for Linden Lab, January 2012 - January 2014.
Writing and worldbuilding for ArenaNet, February 2010 - April 2011.


A reading of Maddox Pratt's Anhedonia in Videogames for Humans (forthcoming).
Interactive Fiction article in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media.
On Savoir-Faire, an article about my game Savoir-Faire that was published in Second Person.
Homer in Silicon column for GameSetWatch and subsequently Gamasutra. A twice-monthly column about storytelling especially in indie and casual games not typically served by the game industry.
Versu: A Simulationist Storytelling System, in collaboration with Richard Evans.
Interactive Fiction Communities From Preservation through Promotion and Beyond, an article co-written with Nick Montfort.


Talks & Workshops

Presentations at GDC in the AI Summit, the Narrative Summit, the Indie Games Summit, and the GDC main program, including a post-mortem session on Versu (2013) and participation in the Experimental Gameplay Workshop (2013) and Design Microtalks (2015).
Keynote speaker for ICIDS 2014, an academic conference in digital storytelling.
Speaker at the Singapore Writer's Festival 2014, including a 3-hour workshop on creating IF with inklewriter and a panel on stories in games.
Oxford Brookes University presentation on digital publishing. (2013)
Complicity, a one-day workshop on the tricks of interactive fiction, run collaboratively with Failbetter Games.
"Interactive Drama: Dialogue as Gameplay" panel on interactive fiction for PAX East 2011.
Inventing the Future of Games conference put on by the Center for Games and Playable Media at UC Santa Cruz, 2011 and 2012.
PRACTICE: Game Design in Detail 2013 Conference at the NYU Game Center.
Emily has also spoken to undergrad and graduate students at institutions including NYU, MIT, UC Santa Cruz, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Passo Fundo in Brazil.


Community Building & Service

Emily has contributed as a judge for the Independent Games Festival, both during the main competition and as a member of the Narrative Jury, IGF 2013-2015.

She has provided student feedback and external mentoring for students at UC Santa Cruz and USC, as well as short-term feedback for high school students.

She also runs the IF Discussion Club, which meets once a month online to discuss topics on interactive fiction, as well as the live Oxford-London Interactive Fiction Meetup.

"Emily has a rare combination of skills. She can elevate not just your stories, but also how you tell them... she can tell a great story in a rich and coherent world and handle how it's all revealed with a deft hand."

Brandon Dillon, ArenaNet




"If you see the name 'Emily Short' listed as the writer, it's going to be a good one."

Richard Cobbett, PC Gamer




"Emily has somehow managed to synthesise the talents of three or four game developers into one uber-mind: she is a masterful writer, a strong technical programmer, and an exceptional designer."
Richard Evans, Little Text People



Text Games in a New Era of Stories by Chris Suellentrop in The New York Times.
Review: Blood and Laurels by Richard Goodness for Storycade.
Review: Bee by Dan Q.
Review: Versu. The longer than I expected Versu post by Andrew Plotkin for The Gameshelf.
Review: Counterfeit Monkey. Live Free, Play Hard: The Week's Finest Free Indie Games by Porpentine for Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Review: First Draft of the Revolution. Write (And Re-Write) Letters of Intrigue in This Fantastic Free Game by Kirk Hamilton for Kotaku.


A Book Itself Is a Little Machine: Emily Short's Interactive Fiction by Illya Szilak for The Huffington Post.
On The Border: An interview with Emily Short by Lauren E. Scott for The Border House.
Roundtable: The Interactive Fiction Renaissance by Leigh Alexander for Gamasutra.
Absent Heroes: Choose Your Own Interview II by Cara Ellison for Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Tips from interactive fiction authors -- Emily Short and Stephen Granade by Matt Roberts for Get Me Writing.
Wikigame: an interview with IF author Emily Short by Aleks Krotoski for The Guardian.

Narrative &