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In October 2017, AOL announced it would sunset AIM on December 15.The instant messaging landscape looks a lot different today. Mobile apps like i Message and Google Hangouts compete for space with Facebook and other social messaging services.was created by people who had met one another only on Compu Serve, who used a Compu Serve chat room as their primary means of communication. We had twelve-hour shifts, from 7 PM to 7 AM, and a lot of the time there just wasn’t that much to do.Given that I’ve written so voluminously on the text adventures of Infocom and others over the years, and given I’ve spent most of the last two months chronicling the net before the Web, a conversation with Judith about text adventures on Compu Serve seemed the perfect way to tie the two strands together. I couldn’t play a conventional computer game, but I could play IF games because it would just look like I was working at a terminal, typing commands.Unfortunately AIM Express used Flash, meaning you had about 10 minutes of instant messaging bliss until an error screwed something up, forcing you to shut down your browser and start the whole process over again.AOL conceded defeat in 2012 and laid off most of its development staff, keeping only a handful of support staff on hand for the next five years.I found it to be a really wonderful teaching language.Just a few years ago, I got an email from an old student who now runs a children’s game conference in Austin.
Well, in my case, for example, I was not very motivated to learn TADS, because I was publicly identified with AGT.No matter how hard it tried, AOL couldn’t revive Running Man’s lifeless body.The company released AIM Express so you’d no longer have to download an app to use AOL.I felt protective of it, and of David Malmberg and what he had achieved with AGT, and what his contest did for popularizing the writing of IF in those early days. I was still writing IF and teaching AGT at a point when David announced he would no longer be maintaining it. I could program in Pascal, but I wasn’t really able to take it over.
I know it looks like I disappeared from the IF world. When Compu Serve was bought by AOL, that left me without my community too, though I was still part of the larger IF world. Well, the “IF community” has always been very fragmented.
I had been a presence in the early 1990s, I was being interviewed, I was very active on Compu Serve Gamers Forum, etc., etc. You have this sort of central community associated with the IF Comp, which is the most academically respected today.