Aug 212017

Consumer Virtual Reality is kind of dead, and that’s great news… It’s as though an alien spaceship fell on earth and all the aliens died… and now we have to figure out how to use this strange technology for our very human desires. (From Stranger Playthings: Remaking a VR Counterculture)

VR is weeeird. So we made a weird game with it called Manimal Sanctuary. It’s a lurking simulator where you play a creature that’s part coral reef, part Cthulhu, who feeds off of the emotions of humans.

It’s also weird to exhibit VR games: “Hey, mind strapping this box to your head in a way that effectively blinds you and makes you look silly?” And it’s boring for the people who aren’t wearing the headsets.

We addressed those issues… by doubling down on the weirdness.

Continue reading »

Jul 282017

The last six months or so I’ve been writing and designing a VR game prototype:

Manimal Sanctuary is a lurking simulator. It leverages low-end VR technology to enable every player’s ultimate fantasy: to play a creature part coral reef, part Cthulhu, who consumes human emotions. Set on the Toronto Islands after the rest of the city is consumed by gibbering monstrosities, you eavesdrop on the survivors and their dramas involving things like bad potato crops and graffiti tags. And if those everyday emotions aren’t filling enough, you can always uncover some devastating secrets…

UPDATE: The free demo is available now for iPhone and Android phones that can run Google Cardboard apps.

Continue reading »

May 082017

Does your mom like puzzles and historical mysteries, and own an iPhone? Why not surprise her on Mother’s Day by installing Wonderland?

Wonderland is an audio drama game set circa 1914, in Toronto’s rough-and-tumble Junction neighbourhood. The end of each chapter poses a puzzle — solve it, and unlock the next one. Stuck? Just put your iPhone in your pocket and go for a walk… every 100 steps, one of the letters in the puzzle is filled in.

Just in time for the start of prime walking season, Wonderland is free for the month of May. Walking simulators are so 2012 — take our walking stimulator for a stroll instead!

Install it for free here

Oct 182016

Cover by Trish Lamanna

You're at Burning Man, with six choices to make before the world goes white.
 Choose wisely. Or wildly. The dust storm won't care.

As a linear storyteller, branching narratives have been challenging for me. I usually have a story I want to tell, and in writing choice-based games I often found myself having to write a bunch of branches I wasn’t as interested in, and I always looped them back to converge with the main story. I preferred making parser games because it felt like I was giving the player more autonomy, even when new parts of the story were gated by puzzles.

But upon reading Sam Ashwell’s “Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games” I liked the idea of trying different structures, and was taken by what he calls Time Cave. In the past I think I’ve regarded this structure as inefficient somehow — inferior because it didn’t reuse writing in a clever way. But seeing a bunch of these typical structures side-by-side in the article let me drop the notion that there’s a “proper” way to do CYOA, and I decided to try the Time Cave. There’s something pretty beautiful about the way it spreads out exponentially. It does need a lot of writing, but I like writing a lot. Continue reading »

Jul 112016

Pretty Sure

I’m very proud to announce the official release of our interactive fiction authoring tool, Texture!

Logo design by Beehive Design

At the top of the post is Jonathan Wyke‘s cover art for Pretty Sure, the first game I made with it. It’s about parenting after Earth is colonized. You can play it on anything with a web browser but it’s especially nice on a tablet.

Juhana Leinonen and I have been chipping away at Texture for a few years, and it started with wanting to make an interactive fiction interface that was approachable and touchscreen-friendly. Continue reading »

Nov 092015


My new iPhone game, Wonderland: A Solvitur Ambulando Mystery, is now on sale for $3.49 on the App Store! Check out the brand new website and trailer, which stars my mom. You can also listen to the first chapter there, which thanks to my collaborators is some fine, fine audio drama.

We launched the game on Saturday night at Junction Brewery with a nice crowd of well-wishers, including a lot of my fellow interactive fiction game makers: Emily Short, Will O’Neill, Sam Barlow, Jason McIntosh, Squinky, Doug Orleans and Christine Love. Check out some pictures here.

Sep 162015


I am taking a quick break from prep for our upcoming Toronto fancy videogame party to toot that my upcoming iPhone audio drama adventure game Wonderland has got a nod from the jurors at IndieCade! I love the Los Angeles festival, held in the cozy Culver City neighbourhood, so I’ll be using the excuse to fly down south again next month even if I have just returned from Nevada.

(And yeah, wow, was that ever worth the hype. There is a range of human expression at Burning Man, from “peace and love!” to “fuck you!”, that I’ve never seen co-existing. You work like a dog and play like a god. It’s deeply dirty and utterly innocent. I am a convert.)

But! Continuing the 15th anniversary giveaway, my free ebook this month is Everyone In Silico.

Are you ready to upgrade to a fully modifiable and personalized reality?

In Vancouver, 2036, people are tired of the smog and the rain. They’re willing to give up a lot for guaranteed sunshine.

“Munroe drops in excellent touches — bioterrorists planting seeds, not bombs; home cloning labs — that help make Silico one of the freshest and scariest, yet most hopeful, near-future yarns in a long time.” —Time Out New York

Cover art and back cover copy & more blurbs here.

Download here

Free in August: Angry Young Spaceman (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in October: Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask
Free in November: An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil
Free in December: Therefore Repent! (illustrated by Salgood Sam)
Free in January: Sword of My Mouth (illustrated by Shannon Gerard)

If you want to find out when the new book’s up follow me on Twitter or even better, subscribe to the blog — so we don’t have to rely on a corporation to keep in touch.

Apr 302015

One of the things I got up to when I was an artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario was make a game. It’s a simple video choose-your-own-adventure set in the AGO, featuring a rather unusual tour guide.

It was a fun opportunity to work with Rachel again (who was the human spam in Ghosts With Shit Jobs) and a good excuse to poke and prod at the protective membrane that surrounds any institution. The folks at the AGO were really good humoured about it and now have even installed it in the Walker Court arcade for the next little while on its own plinth, as pictured above — possibly til the end of the year. It’s a site specific piece and it’ll only be viewable at the AGO.

But there’ll be an excellent opportunity to check it (and a number of other cool art performances) at the AGO’s First Thursday event on Thursday May 7th, tickets here! It’ll be projected large, myself and Rachel will be there and I’ll be giving a little talk about it close to the beginning of the event.

Oct 082013

Magi's Rendering screenshot

Quite flattered and surprised to announce that I’ll be the artist-in-residence at one of North America’s largest museum galleries, the AGO. During February and March they’re providing a studio, a stipend and institutional support to make art — in my case, game art — and engage the public. What the public engagement will look like is still in the planning stages but I’ll be posting more about it as event details firm up.

In related news, I took part in a hackathon and made this art game in about six hours with the guys at Verold. The Magi’s Rendering is my first 3D game, and you can play it now in most recent browsers. Credits and design notes below. Continue reading »

May 132013

I was lucky enough to be on the narrative jury this year for the Independent Games Festival. One of my favourite games was Kentucky Route Zero, a lovely point-and-click adventure with an anachronistic story that dips into magical realism and Flannery O’Connor. Like the writing, the art and cinematography is evocative and assured, and indeed took the Excellence In Visual Art award (up against strong competition from my Guilded Youth collaborator, Matt Hammill).

I stayed with KRZ co-creator Jake Elliott on a recent trip to Chicago and, inspired by a Let’s Play-themed screening/performance event I took part in there, we ended up doing a Let’s Play-style interview (video heremp3 audio-only file here). It’s pretty long and in-depth as we do play through most of Act I, but I imagine some fans will get into the slow-paced conversation amidst the chirping of the crickets. But if you’re just mildly game-curious, scrub through it — you’ll get a sense of the artistic sophistication and some of the creative concerns. If you’re suitably intrigued, you can go buy it here.

May 062013


Do you know the Latin phrase “solvitur ambulando”? Used by the wandering scholars of medieval Europe, it means “walking solves it”. It’s always been true for me, as someone for whom walking is both wonderfully meditative and creatively inspiring. I started thinking about using this sentiment in a game context, and came up with an idea that coder Callum Hay and sound designer/composer Adam Axbey were both into, too. We realized a proof-of-concept this past weekend at the Toronto Game Jam.

Wonderland: A Solvitur Ambulando Mystery is an app for the iPhone. You listen to an audio story set in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood in 1915 — the projectionist of the Wonderland, one of the city’s first movie theatres, makes a grim discovery in the aisle one morning. You can listen to the beginning of the superbly produced and acted clip after the jump. Continue reading »

Apr 022013

Today is the launch of KTR 451, a game I developed for the Toronto Public Library. Drawing on the themes and characters in Fahrenheit 451 (the TPL’s One Book this year), it’s a simple alternate reality game — part scavenger hunt, part audio drama — and people in Toronto can play it by calling the phone number above. There’s three missions, one per week, until a live event on April 22nd.

Naturally, this was a huge thrill for me on a number of levels. Continue reading »

Mar 062013

Pipe Trouble is an arcade-style game like many of the “pipe-connecting” genre — except you’re connecting natural gas pipelines in Alberta. Build too close to farms and livestock and risk incurring an eco-saboteur’s explosive wrath. Build too far around and your boss gets upset that you’re wasting money. It’s a serious game that attempts to model the tensions in the region while providing engaging gameplay, with a score by members of Fucked Up (who I think should be credited as Fracked Up, given the issue we’re addressing).

Play the free trial here in your browser. A percentage of the $1.99 full version for iPad and Android goes to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Update: Due to the Sun’s sloppy journalism, there’s been a bit of a media furor, but unfortunately in a “taxpayer dollars paid for this?!” vein rather than about the more important environmental or industry issues the game addresses. We’ve issued a press release in response.

My thoughts on it below. Continue reading »

Nov 102012

The verdict is in: people really liked Guilded Youth (it just took 3rd in the Interactive Fiction Competition, and 1st in the Ms. Congeniality competition) but hated the ending. Of the fourteen or so reviews I’ve seen over half of them expressed being disappointed by the ending or finding it abrupt.

A previous novel of mine, Everyone In Silico, also had an unconventional ending. I figured it’d be irresponsible of me to tie everything up with a neat little bow, given the complexity of the politics. Depriving readers of their resolution and catharsis made some of them upset, but it was by design and I stand by it.

Not so with Guilded Youth. I just kind of dropped it when I was done. Me and Matt considered it a lark, a nostalgic trifle, so much so that we didn’t anticipate people would care what happened to the quickly sketched characters. But of course we’re delighted. And because it’s not a physical book like Silico — and the digital format allows it — I decided to add two more scenes to give people more time with the awkward adventurers. It’s still charmingly low resolution, but with more of a resolution!

So now you can play version 2.0 of the game, with a better ending. (If you’ve already played it you can start with the command “skipthru” to get to the dining room scene.) Continue reading »

Oct 032012

I’ve just submitted a game to the Interactive Fiction Competition that you can play now if you like.

You play Tony, a fourteen-year old thief who needs some help looting the legendary Oakville Manor.  Luckily it’s the 1980s and finding fellow adventurers is just a modem squeal away…

Notes on the game below.

UPDATE: “Suffice it to say that it’s one of the most evocative portrayals of our collective disaffected BBS-enhanced adolescence I’ve experience in a game, effortlessly giving surprisingly rounded life to characters you only know briefly via a few descriptive lines and Hammill’s skilled caricature.” —Brandon Boyer, Venus Patrol
Continue reading »

Aug 242012

Oh, that? That’s just my trophy nook. I don’t have enough for a case but I fill it out with other precious things like my gem-studded golden turtle.

I’ve won some awards before but I think this is the first meatspace trophy. It’s from Games for Change, who liked Unmanned, a game I did the writing for.

It’s also nominated in two other awesome upcoming fests, Indiecade (in Los Angeles) and Fantastic Arcade (in Austin). This is wicked because it gives me a great excuse to go there and hang out with amazing game makers and sneak in a few screenings of Ghosts With Shit Jobs as well!

Feb 162012

I got to work with one of my favourite gamemakers, Paolo from Molleindustria. He had an idea for a game depicting the day in the life of a drone pilot.

Now you get to play the newest kind of soldier: one who remotely drops bombs on foreign soil during the day, and at night goes home to his family in the suburbs. In Unmanned, the conflict is internal — the only blood you’ll shed is from shaving cuts. But is there collateral damage in this new way of waging war?

I did the writing for it. We went out to Sundance for its debut, and now you can play it online here.

Unmanned‘s a sharp satire that highlights how video games can circumvent traditional modes of political discourse.” — Kotaku

Jan 112012

Check out the introduction of Anton and Toph Karrento, the Silk Gatherers, the latest clip from my lo-fi sci-fi feature Ghosts With Shit Jobs.

This is actually the segment I directed, and although I did it reluctantly (I figure my real skill sets are producing/writing), it was a joy to work with these two super-talented guys. Fantastic at improv, they totally internalized the 2040 world in a way that just floored me. And I felt they nailed the dysfunctional brothers dynamic. After we wrapped I made a text adventure game starring them that you can play here, just so I could spend some more time hanging out in my head with them. Is that weird, bro?

Jul 202011

Last year I was speaking at the Game Developers Conference and saw Robin Hunicke‘s excellent microtalk (see it here at minute 24) about the continuing gender disparity in the games industry. Many talks of this type are documenting the ongoing systemic oppression of women, which is important and valid work. But Robin’s talk channelled Rosie the Riveter. It had a “this is broken, let’s fix it” attitude that was totally inspiring.

Mare Sheppard and I decided to start the Difference Engine Initiative.

As part of the OMDC-supported TIFF Nexus, the Hand Eye Society will be running two gamemaking incubators for women in Toronto, one in August-September, and one in October-November. By introducing new gamemakers from under-represented groups into our community, the Difference Engine Initiative aims to diversify what kind of videogames are made. Our first focus is women…

Find out about next week’s info session and how to apply for this free program over here.

Jul 292010

Last year I organized a project where we gutted an ’80s era arcade cabinet and filled it full of indie games. Jph Wacheski, the chief retrofitter, wrote the article below for people wanting to do the same in the most recent Broken Pencil.

Lots of people are making their own games these days — point-and-click tools like Scratch and GameMaker are making it more accessible for non-programmers, and it’s easy to get your game out there via the internet. But wouldn’t it be even cooler to get you and your friends’ games out there on an old-school arcade cabinet?

The old cabinets are generally made to play one specific game, but you can re-fit it with a PC and a display and wire up the existing controls to make playing new games possible. Many people have been doing this to run emulators of the classic games — MAME cabinets can run hundreds of old games on a single cabinet. The Hand Eye Society, Toronto’s videogame culture collective, wanted to do a similar thing, but with locally made games. They debuted the Torontron, which plays six hand-crafted games by Toronto indies, at the last Canzine. Jph, who did the retrofitting, takes us through the steps he took.

Continue reading »