Night at the MIT Museum: After Dark Trip Report

You find yourself outside the MIT Museum on a gorgeous afternoon. It’s September 14, 2023, breezy but sunny. The After Dark party starts at 5pm, and you’re right on time. You enter through the glass doors, not knowing what to expect. You recognize a PR-IF friend, Chris Martens, as you look for the desk person to check you in. You two chat– it’s your first face to face meeting. You could:

  1. stay and mingle at the front desk
  2. go up to 3R, where the PR-IF event will be.

Although it’s still a bit early, you choose 2) because you’re supposed to be an event volunteer. It’s the first time you’ve met the MIT Museum team in person. Fiori and Kate say hello. They’ve been setting up tables and monitors. You meet Deb, the director of collections. Zarf soon joins, lugging a small collection of IF books from his private stash. You ogle the museum’s displays of Zork, IF, and old technology exhibits around the room. You get the computers setup. You take a picture to celebrate.

Biyi, Flori, Chris, and Zarf

You get a text from Jules, asking about parking. You recall what an amazing IF writer Zarf as your browse his collection, reminiscing about Shade, Dreamhold, Hadean Lands. Biyi and Alberto arrive to help. You haven’t eaten all day because of traffic and errands. You’re hungry so you:

  1. leave briefly to find some food
  2. stay and try to get the exhibits loaded up with IF games

You can’t ignore your hunger any longer, it’s going to be a long night. You choose 1) and head to the 2nd floor. The place is filling up. There is a rad DJ pumping sonic vibes into the crowd. It’s a sold out crowd tonight. You wander around and find some pizza in a volunteer room. You know the DJ, and you exchange pleasantries. It’s a good scene and you just want to chill.

DJ Phillip Tan

You can decide to:

  1. Stay and chat with the DJs, and you are into EDM
  2. Head back to the Play IF room

You feel slightly guilty enjoying the fun while knowing that others are up there ready for guests. You say bye to the DJs and choose 2). You head up back to 3R in the museum’s giant elevator. You put together the zoom names to the new faces.

It’s delightful to meet in person finally, and they’ve brought stuff to share. Chad strolls in flashing a physical copy of Suspect!


Jules has good parking karma and has brought flyers for Tempus Fugit.

Angela and Jules

The room starts to fill with animated party goers. The museum team has set up 3 tables for people to gather around 80s, 2000s, and more recent IF. Zork is at being played at one prominent table. Time passes. Much IF was consumed that night including Photopia, 9:05, and Use Your Psychic Powers at Applebee’s.

The special guests of the evening, Dave Liebling and Michael Dornbrook make an appearance. The room is awed by the presence of the creators of the Zork Empire. Michael had donated a treasure trove of Zork materials that are now on display. Dave talked about the origins of Zork, and the fun they had. They were charming and you got to experience some gameplay and feelies. You shook their hand. You were able to jot down some nuggets of wisdom about making IF experiences magical. At the end of the night, you were happy to share this celebrated favorite pastime with others, including these amazing people.

Partygoers playing Zork and listening to Dave Lebling
Partygoers playing Zork and listening to Dave Lebling
Chad, Zarf, and Michael Dornbrook
Chad, Zarf, and Michael Dornbrook
Dave, Chad, and Zarf
Dave Lebling, Chad, and Zarf

You play 9:05 a total of 6 times with 3 different groups. It was amusing to sit down with newcomers and play together. Many people wanted to experience multiple narrative branches and replayed the game. Funny how people wanted to figure out the flavor of the pop tart. And when they seem to need satisfaction from “eating” the pop tart, rather than rushing to “work” in the game. Everyone seemed happy and they took a card. You hope they come to a pr-if meeting someday, or at least sign up for the mailing list. Whoops, you had forgotten to mention the social media. Ah well!

Happy Partygoers
Happy Partygoers
Happy Partygoers playing Zork with Dave behind them
Happy Partygoers playing 9:05

You realize after the event that you didn’t take as many pictures as you would have liked. You can

  1. keep the memories to yourself because you are not a great photographer
  2. share your photo album anyway because people might want to see them. Maybe they’ll even add their own photos…

You choose 2) to share the photos, and you wake up smiling the next day with memories of the great night. You are inspired to continue writing your IF story that’s been on hold for the past n years….