Twitch & Sniff Along Series

The “Twitch and Sniff Along” series spotlights video games that have incorporated scent as a modality. We’re presenting several historic games (and maybe new ones!) online and offer free mailed replicas of their scratch and sniff cards for educational purposes. For each game, we will have:

  1. Scratch and sniff card replica mailed to you ahead of the events. Must register.
  2. 3-4 live streamed play-throughs hosted by Jas Brooks and Ashlyn Sparrow (Assistant Director of the University of Chicago’s Weston Game Lab) on Monday nights via the Weston Game Lab Twitch Channel. No registration needed.
  3. Panel discussion with the game designer: On the last Saturday of the month, Jas Brooks, Ashlyn Sparrow, and Associate Professor Simon Niedenthal (Malmö University) will be joined by the game’s designer for a panel discussion. Must register for discussion.

We’re also excited to collaborate with Dr Lori Emerson and Dr libi rose of the Media Archaeology Lab to show the computers that some of the games would’ve originally been played on.

February 2021 - Leather Goddesses of Phobos (1986)

"Thrust into every LEATHER GODDESSES OF PHOBOS package: [...] a scratch 'n' sniff card." From the original Leather Goddesses of Phobos game box.

Game Designer: Steve Meretzky
Available scratch and sniff cards: 150

Synopsis: Leather Goddesses of Phobos is an interactive fiction computer game written by Steve Meretzky and published by Infocom in 1986. How did you, a regular at Joe’s Bar in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, end up on a Martian moon? Can you prevent the hideous space creatures from abducting the naked heiress? Why does scratch ‘n’ sniff #2 smell so familiar? How many uses can you find for a rubber hose? Is it easy to remove a brass bikini? Is it hard to outsmart a robotoid sumo wrestler?

Live stream dates (via the Weston Game Lab Twitch Channel):

  1. Monday, February 8st, 2021 at 6:00PM CST.
  2. Monday, February 15st, 2021 at 6:00PM CST.
  3. Monday, February 22nd, 2021 at 6:00PM CST.

Panel discussion: Saturday, February 27th, 2021, at 1:00PM CST.

March 2021 - Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! (1996)

"As this scene begins, the CyberSniff 2000TM logo flashes [...]." From the original Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! game design document.

Game Designer: Al Lowe
Available scratch and sniff cards: 150

Synopsis: Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! is an adventure game originally developed and published by Sierra On-Line in 1996. When we last saw our less-than-dashing hero, Leisure Suit Larry, he was in a rather sticky situation. Not one to be tied down, Larry makes the best of things by going on a cruise to forget the previous escapade.

Live stream dates (via the Weston Game Lab Twitch Channel):

  1. Monday, March 8st, 2021 at 6:00PM CST.
  2. Monday, March 15st, 2021 at 6:00PM CDT.
  3. Monday, March 22nd, 2021 at 6:00PM CDT.

Panel discussion: Saturday, February 27th, 2021, at 1:00PM CDT.

More soon!

Contributors

Speakers

Al Lowe (he/him/his) is an American video game designer, programmer, and musician who developed several adventure games, mostly for Sierra On-Line. He is best known for creating the Leisure Suit Larry series.

Steve Meretzky (he/him/his) is an American video game developer. He is best known for creating Infocom games in the early 1980s, including collaborating with author Douglas Adams on the interactive fiction version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, one of the first games to be certified “platinum” by the Software Publishers Association.

Hosts

Jas Brooks (they/them/their) is a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Jas focuses on computer interfaces that directly modulate human chemosensation, such as smell, taste, and chemesthesis. Their most recent device leveraged chemical stimulation of the nose’s trigeminal nerve endings to induce temperature illusions. Jas’s research is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and has been covered by media publications such as IEEE Spectrum.

Ashlyn Sparrow (she/her/hers): I am a game designer. I am an experience designer. I am a person whose trajectory in games has been the road less traveled. And, honestly? That in itself has allowed me to think about interactions, designs, and frameworks in a way that’s a little more playful. Now, you may (or may not) be asking, “how is a game designer also an interaction designer?” That is an excellent question! I have had the pleasure of creating socially impactful games and apps for health interventions. I move between interaction design and game design every other day and have come to the conclusion that game design is just a hyper-specialized version of interaction design.

Simon Niedenthal (he/him/his) is an Associate Professor of Interaction Design at Malmö University in Sweden. His research explores the history and potentials of smell-enabled gaming and the playful uses of scent. Simon’s scholarly writings in the area of olfaction include ‘Skin Games: Fragrant Play, Scented Media and the Stench of Digital Games’ and ‘Vile Perfume: The Future of the Zombie in the Smellscape of Gaming’. He has also written about the experience of sensory boundaries in motor racing and fireworks games.

Dr. libi rose striegl is an artist, teacher and friend of mechanisms who currently manages the Media Archaeology Lab. She is perpetually ambivalent about technology. Her work ranges from anarchival exploration to large-scale installation, and she is co-founder of artrepreneurial start-up sharing turtle and one half of audiovisual experiment Prayer Generator. libi recently defended her dissertation ‘Voluntary De-Convenience’ for the PhD in Intermedia Arts, Writing and Performance at CU Boulder, and holds an MFA in Experimental Documentary Arts from Duke.

Arianna Gass (they/she) is an intermedia artist and scholar whose interests lie at the intersection of digital and embodied play. They explore embodiment from a technical perspective, examining the interface of on-screen and off-screen bodily performance in video games, as well as from a creative perspective, through the production of interactive multimedia performances. Their dissertation is tentatively titled “The Body in Play: Performance in and Through Video Games.” They are currently a PhD Candidate in the English and Theater and Performance Studies programs at the University of Chicago. They are also a worker-owner of Philadelphia-based live performance group Obvious Agency.

Collaborating Labs

The Weston Game Lab is a lab at The University of Chicago where students, faculty, and staff collaborate on the research and development of games—digital, board, card, or alternate reality—that produce social impact or experiment with form.

The Media Archaeology Lab is a place for hands-on, cross-disciplinary experimental research, teaching and artistic practice using a collection of thousands of still-functioning but obsolete tools, software, hardware, platforms from the late nineteenth century through the twenty first century.