college independent study on interactive fiction

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Cameron

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Aug 29, 2001, 1:19:33 AM8/29/01
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Hey, I'm trying to set up an independent study on interactive fiction
for college. Basically, what I want to do is explore the differences
between static and interactive fiction (ie how the two genres are very
similar but can be used to a very different effect. For instance, how
would photopia have been different if it were written as a piece of
static fiction.)
I've already decided on the if works I want to analyze, but
unfortunately static fiction has a much larger library of works and
I'm having a harder time trying to decide what to draw from in that
category. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for that.
Also, I seem to remember somebody posting something about an if
course at mit. If the syllabus for that course is availible online
still and someone knows where to find it, it'd be a great help to draw
from an existing if course. Also, any other suggestions on how to
best design the course would be great. Thanks a lot!

-Cameron

L. Ross Raszewski

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Aug 29, 2001, 2:31:37 AM8/29/01
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Well, a lot of IF deals with "working out what's going on", at least
in the sense that less is "given to you" and there's more that you
have to "find out for yourself". Now, the comparable paradigm in
static fiction might be the mystery novel. ANother interesting point
for consideration is "attention to detail". In IF, the author is
generally expected to write in many details which are not directly
relevant, but serve as "background". IF seems to have the edge on
static fiction here, since you can both "have all that background
there", and "not foist it upon the reader unless he personally wants
it". Compare, say, a victorian novel with a modernist
piece. Victorian novels tend to swim with detail. Modernist works tend
to omit these details as not relevant to the story, partially
(accordign to Virginia Woolf) out of a reaction against the victorian
novel, which modernist writers felt lacked in their efforts to convey
the experience of a character's being, in favor of a well-fleshed-out
description of the character's surroundings.

Adam Cadre

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Aug 29, 2001, 2:53:12 AM8/29/01
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Ross Raszewski wrote:
> Well, a lot of IF deals with "working out what's going on", at least
> in the sense that less is "given to you" and there's more that you
> have to "find out for yourself".

Because you have amnesia.

-----
Adam Cadre, Brooklyn, NY
web site: http://adamcadre.ac
novel: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060195584/adamcadreac

L. Ross Raszewski

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Aug 29, 2001, 3:23:41 AM8/29/01
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On 28 Aug 2001 23:53:12 -0700, Adam Cadre <gri...@drizzle.com> wrote:
>Ross Raszewski wrote:
>> Well, a lot of IF deals with "working out what's going on", at least
>> in the sense that less is "given to you" and there's more that you
>> have to "find out for yourself".
>
>Because you have amnesia.
>

That was the first example that came to my mind too. But it does come
up in a lot of other contexts, mostly because very few successful
games begin with a 10-page data dump framing your character and the
world he's in.

More generally, the player in most games has to *work* for what he
learns about the world. What the author thinks is important isn't
simply the next text that appears; IF is generally "reactionary", in
that it doles out information as a "reaction" specific to the player's
acts. If the player wants to learn more about X, he has to do things
to X, or to other things which relate to X. If thereader of a book
wants to learn more about X, he has to wait until the point in the
narrative where a discussion of X is called for.

Tom Waddington

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Aug 29, 2001, 1:21:43 PM8/29/01
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Hello Cameron,

> I've already decided on the if works I want to analyze, but
> unfortunately static fiction has a much larger library of works and
> I'm having a harder time trying to decide what to draw from in that
> category. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for that.

Without knowing the games you intend to use, it's difficult to suggest
works of static fiction that would make for good comparisons.

Broadly speaking, though, I wouldn't go for the obviously similar
stories. For example, when selecting a counterpart to `Photopia', I'd
look for static fiction that plays with people's expectations of the
medium, rather than a story about a little girl from the perspectives
of those who knew her.

It might be interesting to draw parallels between the
puzzle-orientated games in IF and Umberto Eco's work. `The Island
of the Day Before' in particular has themes similar to those used in
a lot of IF (a mysterious location filled with strange and nonsensical
objects). While I hate mazes in games, I'd love to see the library
from `The Name of the Rose' in a game (it isn't strictly speaking a
maze, but I think it would feel like one. It's certainly a neat
puzzle).

Be seeing you,
--
Tom Waddington

Elise Stone

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Sep 1, 2001, 11:58:15 AM9/1/01
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On 28 Aug 2001 22:19:33 -0700, camd...@hotmail.com (Cameron) wrote:

> Also, I seem to remember somebody posting something about an if
>course at mit. If the syllabus for that course is availible online
>still and someone knows where to find it, it'd be a great help to draw
>from an existing if course.

http://barrett-2.mit.edu/narrative/index.html

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