Author Archives: Jenn Frank

Words with Strangers: Playing ‘Hefty Seamstress’

"I'm no genius": Hefty Seamstress

George Buckenham is a talented videogame developer based in London. I first met him at a party, and then I met him a second time at a brunch I was not even meant to attend (I encouraged everyone at the table to pretend I wasn’t there). I had been drinking a lot of mimosas, too—did you know they’re called “Buck’s Fizz” over in England?—and finally I gave Mr. Buckenham half my breakfast because I had become too woozy and boozy to finish eating it. This is probably the worst way to introduce yourself, to ask the stranger next to you to please finish your food for you; still, George accepted my gift of a half-eaten breakfast burrito with gusto, and I felt an immediate camaraderie.

Buckenham, together with a designer named Jonathan Whiting, made a game called Hefty Seamstress way back in February, and I’ve only just learned about it. Hefty Seamstress is the product of a “game jam,” where people convene (over a single weekend, say) to make games as quickly as they can. In this case Buckenham and Whiting made a type of word game: some unholy cross between an exquisite corpse and a hypertext experiment, and with the word salad verve of flarf. (“Flarf?” George asked me. “Flarf,” I repeated, without explaining.)

After I’d spent a few minutes with Hefty Seamstress I excitedly told George about Acrophobia. The word game was already popular in IRC channels when a full multiplayer version arrived in 1997 (“when you were about 10,” I wryly warned George).

Continue reading