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Comment Interactive fiction vs. text adventures (Score 5, Interesting) 288

There's been some (mostly negative) talk here about the term "interactive fiction"... and Andrew Plotkin has pointed out that no one involved in IF really insists on the term. That said, I recently rewrote the introduction to my own IF page, and since it seems relevant to the discussion, here's an abridged version:

To most people who've heard of it, the entry for "interactive fiction" in their mental dictionaries goes something like this: "
Interactive fiction, noun. A fancy name for text adventures, a type of computer game popular in the early 1980s despite having no graphics. Usually involved wandering around in caves solving complicated puzzles, and became completely obsolete around the time Reagan left office, as graphics became less crappy."

The problem with this definition is that the medium of interactive fiction is no more a relic of the 1980s than the novel is a relic of the 17th century. [...] Now, it's true, a lot of IF works (even today) are games, and you have to solve puzzles in order to "win." Even a few of mine are like that (and I've identified how gamelike each one is [on my IF page]). But they don't have to be, and most of mine aren't. They're stories [...] with the twist that you get to participate in the telling.

In interviews I'm often asked to comment on how IF compares to various computer game genres, and I usually don't have much to say because my interest in computer games is minimal. I'm not a gamer. I'm a writer. Every time modern IF comes up on Slashdot, a hundred people dredge up how great Infocom was... but I've never cared for most of Infocom's offerings. "Text adventure games" bore me. I have little interest in and even less patience for solving puzzles, and most of my IF reflects this. So it seems to me silly to call something like Photopia or Narcolepsy a "text game," because they're not games. They have a lot more in common with works like The Sweet Hereafter and The Big Lebowski than they do with Zork. So I call them interactive fiction, not to make them sound more important, but simply because it's a more accurate name.

Adam Cadre, Holyoke, MA

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