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DCA Archive

Theresa Duncan


For summer 2016 we’re delighted to present Small Wars and CD-ROMS, two exhibitions in partnership with Abertay University exploring the cultural impact of computer games, programmed and curated in partnership with Dr William Huber, Head of the Centre for Excellence in Game Education. The exhibitions coincide with Abertay’s hosting of the first joint International Conference of DiGRA and FDG 2016, from Mon 1 to Sun 6 August.

Theresa Duncan (1966 – 2007) was a writer, filmmaker and computer game creator who became known in the 1990s for developing graphic adventure games for girls.

Duncan’s three completed games have been conserved and can be played in the exhibition. In Chop Suey (Magnet Interactive, 1995, co-created with Monica Gesue), two young girls embark on a strange, hallucinatory adventure in their hometown. It was named Entertainment Weekly’s game of the year and won an ardent following. Games journalist Jenn Frank called it “one of the greatest, most important games I’ve ever owned”, while tech journalist Kara Swisher remembered that “while the CD-ROM business proved to be a bridge technology and Chop Suey did not endure the onslaught of the web, after seeing it, I have never forgotten it.”

Smarty (Nicholson Associates, 1996) focuses on its eponymous heroine’s visit to her aunt’s house for the summer, where she has a range of new experiences; while Duncan’s final game, Zero Zero (Nicholson Associates, 1997), is set on New Year’s Eve 1899 in Paris, where a little girl tries to find out what the future holds by talking to the people she meets in the city.

CD-ROMS is presented in association with Rhizome. Duncan's CD-ROMs were restored in 2014 by Rhizome as part of a project led by Dragan Espenschied, digital conservator, and Michael Connor, artistic director, in collaboration with Klaus Rechert.