Does int. fiction have to be a game?

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Susan L. Graham

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Jun 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/1/96
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Hi! I'm trying to set up some new professionally edited interactive
fiction on the Web based on a published book -- I'm the literary agent
that sold the book. But the way I envision interactive fiction is
lots of links and interesting storylines, and the ability for the
reader to add to the storyline. I don't envision it as a game. To
me, that's not interactive fiction. It's a game. Don't get me wrong.
Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
includes games. I would really appreciate someone explaining how that
happened, or why it is considered IF, or what the dividing line
between a game and IF is. Thank you.

- Susan L. Graham
Graham Literary Agency, Inc.
http://www.mindspring.com/~slgraham/home.htm

P.S. -- We've just started the IF, and we need some participants. If
there's something I need to know about how to attract people to the
site, I would appreciate that VERY much, too. Thanks!


Andrew C. Plotkin

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Jun 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/1/96
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slgr...@atl.mindspring.com (Susan L. Graham) writes:
> Hi! I'm trying to set up some new professionally edited interactive
> fiction on the Web based on a published book -- I'm the literary agent
> that sold the book. But the way I envision interactive fiction is
> lots of links and interesting storylines, and the ability for the
> reader to add to the storyline. I don't envision it as a game. To
> me, that's not interactive fiction. It's a game. Don't get me wrong.
> Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
> But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
> includes games.

Because we have all these games which are stories. (And interactive,
of course. Games (in this context) are always interactive. But these
ones are fiction, so they're IF.) Seems clear enough.

At the moment, just about all IF is games. (This is the opposite of
what you asked; you asked when a game is IF, and I'm going to tell you
when a piece of IF is a game. Sorry.)

There are a few interactive programs which are fiction, but which I
would not call games. _Gadget_ is an example; I think _Portal_ is too
(an old multimedia title for the Apple 2 and other computers of that
era.) These are things where you control the program, but you have no
influence over "what happens next." Your options are pretty much to
proceed or not to proceed -- explicitly. And the reason there aren't
many of these is that they're less interesting. In some sense, the
interactivity is wasted; you might as well have written a book. (In
fact, _Portal_ was published as a book.)

So most of the stories around are either static fiction
(books/movies/etc), or game IF.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you want to develop a mode of IF
which s not a game, you have to figure out where the interactivity
lies. Then decide whether that counts as "a game" or not. Or, better
yet, ignore that question; once you know what you're doing, the label
won't matter.

It's not like you need our permission to do it. :)

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."

Roger Giner-Sorolla

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Jun 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/1/96
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On Sat, 1 Jun 1996, Susan L. Graham wrote:

> Hi! I'm trying to set up some new professionally edited interactive
> fiction on the Web based on a published book -- I'm the literary agent
> that sold the book. But the way I envision interactive fiction is
> lots of links and interesting storylines, and the ability for the
> reader to add to the storyline. I don't envision it as a game. To
> me, that's not interactive fiction. It's a game. Don't get me wrong.
> Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
> But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction

> includes games. I would really appreciate someone explaining how that
> happened, or why it is considered IF, or what the dividing line
> between a game and IF is. Thank you.

"Interactive fiction" is really a term cooked up by players and writers
of interactive text-based story games. It is appropriate, though not
all-inclusive, because text games are interactive (requiring player input
to uncover the eventual storyline -- which typically can be summarized
"How I Solved The Puzzles and Saved The Day") as well as fiction
(narratives of imaginary events).

But, as you point out, there are other types of writing that can also be
classed as "interactive fiction." What you've described usually goes by
other names, as a matter of convention not logic. You may try looking for
"hyperfiction," "tree fiction," or "interactive writing" as points of
departure.

Roger Giner-Sorolla New York University, New York, NY
gi...@xp.psych.nyu.edu Dept. of Psychology (Social/Personality)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This scholar, rake, Christian, dupe, gamester, and poet.
David Garrick, "Jupiter and Mercury"


Magnus Olsson

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Jun 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/1/96
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In article <4opsnt$13...@mule2.mindspring.com>,

Susan L. Graham <slgr...@atl.mindspring.com> wrote:
>Hi! I'm trying to set up some new professionally edited interactive
>fiction on the Web based on a published book -- I'm the literary agent
>that sold the book. But the way I envision interactive fiction is
>lots of links and interesting storylines, and the ability for the
>reader to add to the storyline. I don't envision it as a game. To
>me, that's not interactive fiction. It's a game. Don't get me wrong.
>Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
>But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
>includes games. I would really appreciate someone explaining how that
>happened, or why it is considered IF, or what the dividing line
>between a game and IF is. Thank you.

The terminology is somewhat unfortunate.

I think it was Infocom who started using "Interactive Fiction" as a
synonym for "adventure game". Many people like the usage since
it emphasizes that the Infocom games have literary as well as game
aspects.

Unfortunately, that usage is too restrictive, since, as you say, IF
doesn't have to be games. On the other hand, people want to avoid the
term "text adventure game" since it has the wrong connotations - we
want to avoid the common reaction of "it's only a game, so how can you
see it as literature".

This is an all too common attitude, and I think you're dismissing
games far too high-handedly. You seem to be saying that a game can't
possibly be literature, and I think you are simply wrong.

Try to see it from my perspective, as an IF author:

I want to write an interactive story. A story with literary qualities.
I also happen to think that tree-structured IF (hyperfiction) is too
limited; I want the reader to have more freedom in choosing paths and
in interacting with the underlying model universe.

Now, there happens to exist a class of games (text adventures) that
let the player do just that, so I borrow the medium, as it were. This
medium has certain limitations. One of them is that we can't (yet)
give the reader total freedom to mainpulate the model world, and even
if we could that would be at odds with the need for a plotline. As an
author, I want my reader to follow my plotline (which needn't be
totally deterministic), or everything will branch out into a thicket
of plots-within-plots. I choose to do this by giving the reader a
number of situations where only one or a few possible paths of action
advance the plot.

Such situations will be perceived as problems, or puzzles. So what I
end up with is a piece of IF that has the same user interface as a
text adventure game, and (like the game) presents the reader with
a number of "puzzles" to "solve". In fact, it will behave just
like a game, and the reader will very probably perceive it as such.

But does that mean that it isn't fiction? (It's certainly interactive,
so I assume it's the "fiction" part that's troublesome). Can it not
be art, just because it _behaves_ like a game? To me, what is art
or not lies in purpose and content, not in superficial form.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

mathew

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Jun 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/2/96
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In article <4opsnt$13...@mule2.mindspring.com>,
Susan L. Graham <slgr...@atl.mindspring.com> wrote:
>Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
>But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
>includes games.

Why should it exclude them?

TV includes game shows. Interactive TV includes games. It seems
clear to me that interactive fiction should encompass things which are
purely games too.


mathew
--
me...@pobox.com http://www.pobox.com/~meta/
"In any event, this is a straw herring for debate."
- sol...@netcom.com (Andrew Solovay)
Wanted: Digital CD copy of "Plunderphonics" CD

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Jun 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/2/96
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>In article <4opsnt$13...@mule2.mindspring.com>,
>Susan L. Graham <slgr...@atl.mindspring.com> wrote:
>>Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
>>But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
>>includes games.

Hmm. It depends on whether we're talking about interactive fiction, or
interactive 'literature' <pronounced with a heavy academic accent>. Most
IF (as we game authors use the term) is certainly fiction, and it is a
lot more interactive than hyperfiction. On the other hand, if you are
looking for the next 'Ulysses' from game writers, you'll probably be
disappointed. But that's fine with me, as I don't really enjoy most of
the readings my creative writing professor seemed to think I should.

"You write science fiction? How nice that must be for you."

Whee, there was a fun class.


--
<~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< Join in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition. | ~~\ >
< The Deadline is September 30, 1996. Enter, judge, betatest or ?? | /~\ | >
<_______________________...@uclink.berkeley.edu_|_\__/__>

Charles Cameron

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Jun 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/2/96
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I didn't catch the "dismissiveness" of games which Magnus seems to have
picked up in Susan Graham's original post -- I think she was just puzzled
by some terminology which now has the force of a useful convention.
However...

*

I think what Magnus and Roger are getting at in their different ways is
that "interactive fiction" in the widest sense, inclusive of all fiction
that involves the writerly participation of the reader to some degree or
another, has found a form in "interactive fiction" in the narrower sense,
meaning "games" of the IF sort...

This form happens to require a bunch of dedicated programming to make it
feasible, and a great deal of the preliminary work has already been done,
since the form in question *originated* in the writing of games which were
the *textual* precursors, before graphical interfaces were available, of
today's interactive video games...

Today's IF game authors, therefore, are working in a genre for which they
may have a nostalgic reverence, but which has in some sense been passed
over in favor of glossier and more costly efforts by the games industry...
leaving it to be appreciated and developed in large part by those whose
interest *is* literary, textual and fictional...

*

Many novels are written in the hopes they will become blockbusters and/or
movies, and movies are generally made with a firm eye on the commercial
market... but poems and short stories tend to lack the "wide scale" that's
music at the cash register and box office, and as a result are largely
written by those who simply love the art and craft... I think something
similar may be true of IF games... no longer the cutting edge of "game
development", the genre is now free to develop in other, more verbally
interesting directions.

I'd suggest to Susan, then, that she consider the genre of "IF games" as a
genre at the cutting edge of short story writing, interactive but closed
-- thus avoiding, as Magnus points out, the excesses to which "branching
fiction" is prone... point one... and note that it also brings with it
an existing / still developing mode of presentation (programming,
interface) which is *also* a tremendous boon... point two.

*

My own games, incidentally, which owe their origins and inspiration to
Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game in *Magister Ludi*, are similarly "art
forms" and "art pieces", though I think they bear a closer resemblance to
the sonnet than to the short story.

But the same problem applies... call them "games", and people think they
are not serious; call them "art forms" and people think they are too
serious...

And yet, and yet... we have been accustomed to a literary world in which
discourse is linear, monophonic. In some ways, writers today are like
musicians at the end of the Gregorian era in music: we crave polyphony --
the synchronous expression of multiple points of view, the exploration of
forking paths... and if "games" turns out to be the rubric under which
such things can be developed, that's where the writers will be found...

With best wishes to all,

--
Charles
Charles Cameron <hip...@earthlink.net>
*
hipbone games: http://haven.ios.com/~davehuge/

David Fletcher

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Jun 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/2/96
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Charles Cameron (hip...@earthlink.net) wrote:

> But the same problem applies... call them "games", and people think they
> are not serious; call them "art forms" and people think they are too
> serious...

While reading this thread, I've been trying to think of a short word for
"piece of interactive fiction" (apart from "game") and I can't.

Is there one, and if not, should there be?

--
David Fletcher

Zellyn Hunter

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Jun 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/2/96
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David Fletcher (linc...@sable.ox.ac.uk) wrote:
: While reading this thread, I've been trying to think of a short word for

: "piece of interactive fiction" (apart from "game") and I can't.
: Is there one, and if not, should there be?

A "poif"?

;-)


I've found that there are several problems with the hypertext fiction, or
"choose your own adventure" type of writing.

The first is size. Either the work the writer has to do doubles at every
plot-split (without increasing the lenght the reader sees at all), or the
choices must only be apparent - they don't make any real difference since
the all just come back together after a while.

The second is that whenever I've read a story that has several paths, I'm
never happy when I complete the story, but know that there is interesting
reading hidden along the paths that I didn't take. Of course, if you try
to read it again, you find large parts of it boring, because they're just
repeats of what you read the first time.

The "game" type of interactive fiction is fun, because it lets the reader
explore everything at their own speed. However, the puzzles can make the
game slow down and become boring...


Thinking about it now, a game with easy puzzles goes too quickly - if the
game were longer, but still well-written, it would be okay. Similarly, a
hypertext story that split a lot, but was huge enough to provide a decent
length along any path, would be satisfying.

Perhaps size is the overriding problem - you can't make something totally
colossal, while still keeping up the quality, at least not in a few weeks
or months.


Personally, I like the elegance of limited forms like the novel, or short
story. The author has a much smaller area on which to concentrate his or
her efforts, and can try to get the work as close to perfect as possible.
The same idea applies to many types of classical music, where the overall
sequence of the music is decided beforehand by the type of piece, and the
composer then does what they can within the self-imposed constraints.


Gee, that was all pretty unconnected, wasn't it?


I guess if someone would spend a "Tolkein-like" amount of time and effort
in writing a huge, branching piece of hypertext fiction, it would be well
worth reading. However, the elegance of limited forms makes them so much
neater to me.


-Zellyn

--
,db. ,db. "For You knit me together in my mother's
_,o88b. 8'`8 8'`8 womb. I praise You because I am fearfully
dP' `Yb ,db. 8 8 Y 8 and wonderfully made."
" d8 8' 8 Y ,P Y ,P db b b ,gg.
.oP' Y,d' `bd' `bd' 88 8b `8P `Y,
`Y, dP. ,Pb. ,Pb. ,PY. ,88 dP 88 ,d' Zellyn Hunter
d8 dP' "YgP' `YgP' `YgP' YggP"Y8oP8 `YggP zel...@cc.gatech.edu
-,o-----88-------------------------,dP-8'---------------------------------
Yb .dP' _,d8' 8P http://www.cc.gatech.edu/
`Y888P' ,dP' dP people/home/zellyn
8' ,dP
`YgggP"

Magnus Olsson

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Jun 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/2/96
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In article <4opsnt$13...@mule2.mindspring.com>,
Susan L. Graham <slgr...@atl.mindspring.com> wrote:
>Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
>But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
>includes games.

I just came to think of an argument that might be an alternative to
my earlier, rambling article:

Susan, suppose that your interactive story had been a mystery of the
Agatha Christie school. No one would deny that Agatha Christie wrote
fiction, even though one can of course question the artistic value
of it, right?

Suppose further that the reader of this story was given all the clues,
so that he or she could in principle make the same deductions as the
detective. (Nothing strange with that, it used to be a "fairness"
criterion for good detective fiction.)

In that case, wouldn't it be possible to regard the story as a game,
a game where the reader/player tries to solve a mystery by interacting
with a computer and reading text on the screen?

In fact, what would be the principal difference between that story and
a game like "Zork"? Why would one be fiction, while the other wouldn't?

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Christopher E. Forman

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Jun 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/3/96
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Susan L. Graham <slgr...@atl.mindspring.com> wrote:
: Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
: But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
: includes games. I would really appreciate someone explaining how that

: happened, or why it is considered IF, or what the dividing line
: between a game and IF is. Thank you.

Recent discussions here refresh the fact that there is no universally
agreed-upon dividing line. Interactive fiction by definition must be user-
driven, and the term "I-F" has been used to encompass everything from
tree fiction to text adventure games to graphic point-and-click games.
All of these incorporate interactivity, so why shouldn't they all be
classified as interactive fiction? (The term itself has unfortunately
evolved from its coinage by Infocom and other companies, when it was once
used solely to refer to text adventures.)

--
C.E. Forman cef...@rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu
Read the I-F e-zine XYZZYnews, at ftp.gmd.de:/if-archive/magazines/xyzzynews,
or on the Web at http://www.interport.net/~eileen/design/xyzzynews.html
Vote I-F in 1996! Visit http://www.xs4all.nl/~jojo/pcgames.html for info!

Mike Hardaker

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Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
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I'd say interactive fiction need not be a game, but the phrase
'interactive fiction' does tend to be used as a synonym for 'adventure
game', perhaps to add dignity to a genre which (fifteen years ago) was
perceived to lack it. Or maybe it was to prevent confusion with the more
conventional 'computer games' of the era such as PacMan and the like - if
only I could remember that far back...

I, certainly, don't believe that interactive fiction need be a game, as
anyone daft enough to read the 30,000 words on my Web site will discover.
However, it is true that the level of 'interactivity' on that site is
lower than in, say, the Zorks of this world.

For me, the interaction has a lot to do with the structure - specifically,
breaking it down to introduce a non-linearity which cannot be created in
print (short of printing each chapter on a playing-card and then shuffling
before each reading). It's about breaking down the Aristotelian precept
that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end (OK - so
Aristotle was talking about tragedy, the point is still regarded as gospel
by many). It can just as easily have lots of middles, with a number of
routes through them.

Some would call this hyperfiction, just as people would probably call your
Ladylord project 'collaborative fiction' rather than interactive fiction.
Me, I say there can be many ways of introducing interactivity to fiction
and it's rather pointless to get bogged down in a 'my way is better than
yours' argument.

Sorry if this is rather rambling, but I'd say that IF certainly doesn't
*have* to be a game, but it very often is. :-)

Mike


Mike Hardaker

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Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
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Whoops! forgot the shameless self-publicity.

The site in question is at:

http://mickey.iafrica.com/~hardaker/

Just click on the Exile icon if you have a frame-enabled browser, or go
through the hole if you don't...

Cheers

=======================================================
Mike Hardaker

e-mail: hard...@iafrica.com
WWW: http://mickey.iafrica.com/~hardaker/
(The Hole In The Wall)
=======================================================
"I'd like to reassure you,
But I'm not that kind of guy."
- Robyn Hitchcock
=======================================================

Magnus Olsson

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Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
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In article <4otmcl$1o...@thor.cmp.ilstu.edu>,
Christopher E. Forman <cef...@rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu> wrote:
>(The term itself [Interactive Ficition -- mol] has unfortunately

>evolved from its coinage by Infocom and other companies, when it was once
>used solely to refer to text adventures.)

There's also the term "interactive novel" which was coined - and perhaps
even trademarked (?) - by Scott Adams for his adventure games.

A bit ironic, perhaps, for while Scott Adam's adventures are generally
regarded as great game classics, they are IMAO among the least "literate"
IF in existence; Scott Adams is not exactly a great stylist.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Michael Blaheta

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Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
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Quoth David Fletcher:

> While reading this thread, I've been trying to think of a short word for
> "piece of interactive fiction" (apart from "game") and I can't.

I don't suppose "inovel" (or maybe "enovel") would work? (pronounced
"eye-novel")

Don

-=-=-=-Don Blaheta-=-=-=-bla...@quincy.edu-=-=-=-dbl...@aol.com-=-=-=-

"The Schizophrenic: An Unauthorized Autobiography"

Joe Mason

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Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
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"Does int. fiction have to", declared slgr...@atl.mindspring.c from
the Vogon ship:

s>that sold the book. But the way I envision interactive fiction is
s>lots of links and interesting storylines, and the ability for the
s>reader to add to the storyline. I don't envision it as a game. To

Sounds like you're talking about hyperfiction or... umm... I can't
remember the name. :-)

"Hyperfiction" is where you click on links to go to different places in
the story. The old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books were a form of
hyperfiction. It's kind of interactive, because the reader does get a
chance to decide how the story goes, but its limited to picking from a
list of possibilities that the author provides. We don't class it as
"interactive" here because our definition says that the "reader" has to
have full control (more on that later).

The other thing you mentioned is the ability to add to the storyline.
This kind of thing is often called "interactive fiction", but that's not
the kind we talk about here. I'm going to call it "cooperative fiction"
to keep it separate. I know there was another name, but I can't
remember it now.

In this kind, you read what the people before you have written and then
submit your own continuation. You don't take the role of one of the
characters "interacting" with the rest of the world (usually; I guess
there could be a provision that your contribution has to be all from one
characters point of view, or some other scheme). You are "interacting"
with the previous authors, and other people who are writing at the same
time.

s>me, that's not interactive fiction. It's a game. Don't get me wrong.
s>Games are fun, and can be very creative, informative, and interesting.
s>But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
s>includes games. I would really appreciate someone explaining how that
s>happened, or why it is considered IF, or what the dividing line
s>between a game and IF is. Thank you.

Well, traditional fiction can be a movie, a story, a play, etc.
"Interactive" fiction, by our definition, is a movie, story, play, etc.
where the reader/viewer/etc. ("player") takes the role of one of the
characters (or maybe several) and guides that character's every action.
(Barring cut-scenes, maybe) This definition also includes paper-and-
pencil RPG's and those "evening of murder" parties, which would be
Interactive Theatre, BTW. We generally only talk about computerized IF
here, though. :-)

So an "interactive story", by our definition, is one where the computer
presents you with a situation and you type out what you want to do.
It's fiction because there's generally a coherent story behind it (at
least, if its a good one!) not just a series of unconnected puzzles. If
this interactive story is fun, then its a game - but if its the
interactive version of, say, Schindler's List, then its not. Unless you
have a very sick mind, but let's not get into that.

Graphical adventure games with icon-based interfaces are more of
"interactive movies", but they're still IF because you control every
action of the character.

As for a dividing line, there's no real dividing line. If a game tells
a story and you control the character then its interactive fiction as
well as being a game. If it doesn't then it doesn't qualify. But what
about DOOM? Judged as a game, it's great. Judged as IF, it would be
pretty bad (no plot twists, very little story, etc.) But it does have
enough story to maybe qualify. How about Mortal Kombat? The only
things you could say really *don't* qualify are puzzle games that don't
even try to have a background story. The point, I guess, is that there
are different standards for games and IF, and for the overlap you have
to judge by one or the other, depending on how you want to view it.
Just as there are different standards for hyperfiction (which gives the
author much more control, so that each segment can be expected to have
more detail) and cooperative fiction (which doesn't even *have* a well-
defined author).

BTW, there was another great definition of IF floating around here a
while ago. "Interactive Fiction is a game, although it doesn't have to
be, which can be art but not neccessarily, and shouldn't try to be art
if it is a game, but..." Anybody save that one? It ranks right up
there with "What the hell kind of villain tries to thwart the hero with
soup cans in the pantry?"

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --

ş CMPQwk 1.42 9550 şI am Pentium of Borg...division is Futile...you will be Approximated

Greg Ewing

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Jun 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/5/96
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Zellyn Hunter wrote:
>
> However, the puzzles can make the
> game slow down and become boring...

I agree that badly-designed "puzzles" which are obviously
thrown in simply to slow the player down are annoying.
But I think that "problems" which arise naturally out of
the plot and setting are vital to making IF more than
just a tourist experience of wandering around and taking
in the sights.

One of the mainstays of ordinary fiction plots is setting
up a problem and having the characters solve it. IF improves
on this by letting the reader have the fun of solving it
him/erself instead of reading about someone else solving
it.

The difficulty is that if the problem is too hard, or the
player doesn't happen to be thinking in the right direction
that day, s/he is likely to get frustrated and give up,
and feel disappointed at not being able to get at the rest
of the story.

Maybe what we need is to find some middle ground between
giving the reader/player no responsibility for advancing
the story, and laying all of it on him/er alone? Perhaps
there should be other characters in the story which are
capable of solving all the problems or helping the player
to solve them if s/he wishes.

The other characters would be fairly passive at first,
giving the player the chance to take the initiative.
If the player wasn't making progress, or explicitly
asked for help, they would begin to take a more active
part.

\begin{flightOfFancy}

As Fred enters the room behind you, the doors slams
shut. With alarm you notice that there is no handle
on this side, and no other way out of the room.
Even more alarming is the leaking pipe attached to
the ceiling, and the slowly accumulating layer of
water on the floor.

There is a chair in the corner, with what seems to
be a piece of rag on the seat.

Fred is here, surveying the scene and scratching
his head.

> x pipe

Standard 3/4 inch water pipe; cracked; leaking.

> x chair

Old, but not much to recommend it as an antique
collector's item.

The water level is rising. You'd better do something
about that some time soon.

> x rag

Seems to be the remains of someone's underwear.

> ask fred about pipe

"Wondering when you'd get around to that subject,"
he remarks. Placing the chair in the middle of the
room, he climbs onto it and clamps his hand around
the leak, staunching the flow for the time being.

> z

Time passes like an arrow. The water rises to your
knees. Water dribbles down Fred's sleeve.

"Are you just going to stand there, or get me
something to tie around this thing?"

> take rag. give it to fred

"About time!" He ties the rag tightly around the
pipe. A little water still soaks through, but
your life expectancy is now risen by a factor
of ten.

\end{flightOfFancy}

Clearly this has similarities to an on-line help
system, but if done properly it should be much
more entertaining...

> `Y, dP. ,Pb. ,Pb. ,PY. ,88 dP 88 ,d' Zellyn Hunter
> d8 dP' "YgP' `YgP' `YgP' YggP"Y8oP8 `YggP zel...@cc.gatech.edu

> Yb .dP' _,d8' 8P http://www.cc.gatech.edu/
> `Y888P' ,dP' dP people/home/zellyn

Greg

Greg Ewing

unread,
Jun 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/5/96
to

Susan L. Graham wrote:
>
> But I don't understand why the definition of interactive fiction
> includes games.

I don't see how to define "game" so as to exclude interactive
fiction.

The best definition of "game" I can think of that includes everything
that most people would regard as games is "a form of entertainment
in which the person being entertained takes an active part".

Being fiction, IF is clearly meant to entertain, and being
interactive, the user clearly takes an active part - so
how can it not be a game?

Greg

Kathleen Fischer

unread,
Jun 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/5/96
to

Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:
>The other characters would be fairly passive at first,
>giving the player the chance to take the initiative.
>If the player wasn't making progress, or explicitly
>asked for help, they would begin to take a more active
>part.
>
>\begin{flightOfFancy}
<snip story of Fred and the leaky pipe>

> n
As you crest the hill, with Fred hot on your hills, you see a unicycle
leaning up against a tree.

> ride unicycle
You hop up on the one wheeled marvel, extending your arms for balance. Fred,
not wanting to be left behind, jumps up on your shoulders.

> n
You wobble down the road, unable to see because Fred is holding his hands
over your eyes. "You're not very good at this, are you?" Fred notes as you
bairly avoid hitting a tree.

> n
The road begins to decend down the hill, making steering more difficult. "Why
don't you try waving your arms a little?" Fred offers helpfully.

> wave arms
Fred waves back, giggling. His sudden movement sends you into a ditch spilling
the contents of your rucksack all of the ground, but there's no going back as
are now completly out of control, still heading down the hill on the unicycle.

> remove Fred
"But you might NEED me later on..." he whines, clutching desperatly at your
throat. The road is decending more steeply now, making it harder to keep
your balance.

> tell fred to leave
"You wouldn't leave me here in the middle of nowhere would you?" he whimpers
pathetically, climbing even higher up on your shoulders. You are now veering
wildly about the road, at times coming dangerously close to the edge of the
cliff.

> throw Fred over cliff
"You'll be soooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrry..." he wails as he hurtles to the bottom
of the ravine.

Your score has gone up 5 points

---
// Kathleen Fischer
// kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov
// *** "Don't stop to stomp ants while the elephants are stampeding" ***


Andrew C. Plotkin

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Jun 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/5/96
to

mbla...@flood.xnet.com (Michael Blaheta) writes:
> Quoth David Fletcher:
> > While reading this thread, I've been trying to think of a short word for
> > "piece of interactive fiction" (apart from "game") and I can't.
>
> I don't suppose "inovel" (or maybe "enovel") would work? (pronounced
> "eye-novel")

"Work."

--Z

(Then, once you've written any, you can say you have an "oeuvre".)

Joe Mason

unread,
Jun 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/5/96
to

"Re: Does int. fiction hav", declared David Fletcher from the Vogon
ship:

DF>While reading this thread, I've been trying to think of a short word
DF>for "piece of interactive fiction" (apart from "game") and I can't.

DF>Is there one, and if not, should there be?

"Story" is the best I can think of...

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --

þ CMPQwk 1.42 9550 þILLITERATE? Write for a free brochure...

Nulldogma

unread,
Jun 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/6/96
to

> BTW, there was another great definition of IF floating around here a
> while ago. "Interactive Fiction is a game, although it doesn't have to
> be, which can be art but not neccessarily, and shouldn't try to be art
> if it is a game, but..." Anybody save that one? It ranks right up
> there with "What the hell kind of villain tries to thwart the hero with
> soup cans in the pantry?"

It's memorialized in the FAQ, I believe.

Neil

Jonathan Fry

unread,
Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
to

Joe Mason (joe....@tabb.com) wrote:
: "Hyperfiction" is where you click on links to go to different places in
: the story. The old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books were a form of
: hyperfiction. It's kind of interactive, because the reader does get a
: chance to decide how the story goes, but its limited to picking from a
: list of possibilities that the author provides. We don't class it as
: "interactive" here because our definition says that the "reader" has to
: have full control (more on that later).

Regardless of the degree of control in I-F, the player is still
"limited to picking from list of possibilities that the author
provides."
--Jon

+-------------------------------------------------------+
| Jonathan Fry jf...@skidmore.edu |
+-------------------------------------------------------+

Joe Mason

unread,
Jun 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/12/96
to

"Re: Does int. fiction hav", declared Jonathan Fry from the Vogon ship:

JF>: a form of hyperfiction. It's kind of interactive, because the
JF>: reader does get a chance to decide how the story goes, but its
JF>: limited to picking from a list of possibilities that the author
JF>: provides. We don't class it as "interactive" here because our
JF>: definition says that the "reader" has to have full control (more
JF>: on that later).

JF>Regardless of the degree of control in I-F, the player is still
JF>"limited to picking from list of possibilities that the author
JF>provides."

Well, yeah, but its not as obvious... :-) To be more precise, the
reader has to have the *illusion* of full control.

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --

þ CMPQwk 1.42 9550 þWe are the most intelligent planet on earth. - D. Quayle

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