Interactive fiction for children

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Greg Kuperberg

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Oct 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/23/98
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One of the main reasons that I recently revisited interactive fiction
was to find something for my son. He is five years old and is an early
reader. I wanted to find some story games that he would enjoy and that
would give him some incentive to learn to type. Graphical games and
"Living Books" are not what we want; they are too much like TV.

The only suitable game that I found in the IF archive was "The Underoos
That Ate New York". My son thought it was hilarious. (We played it
together actually.) It has a little bit of PG material but it was easy
to skip over that.

Virtually every other well-crafted game in the archive is way, way
too hard. For example, "A Bear's Night Out", supposedly for children,
was too hard for me and for my wife, never mind for my son.

I think that there is a temptation for authors to take their games
to extremes. The archive games designed to challenge the player can
be excessively difficult, even masochistic. Many of the few that are
intended to be easy are condescending or insubstantial (not to mention
incomplete).

If anyone here feels inspired to write games in the vein of classic or
humorous children's books (In the Night Kitchen, Jack and the Beanstalk,
Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky poems, etc.), I would be more than grateful
to see the results.
--
/\ Greg Kuperberg (UC Davis)
/ \
\ / Visit the xxx Math Archive Front at http://front.math.ucdavis.edu/
\/ * From Andrews to Zeilberger, Abramovich to Zaidenberg *

Wonder Boy

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Oct 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/24/98
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On 23 Oct 1998, Greg Kuperberg wrote:

> If anyone here feels inspired to write games in the vein of classic or
> humorous children's books (In the Night Kitchen, Jack and the Beanstalk,
> Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky poems, etc.), I would be more than grateful
> to see the results.
> --

Actually, Ben Scagels wrote a great demo for a Jack and the
Beanstalk game that came with the Textfire, Inc. twelve-pack last April.
The full versions were supposed to be on sale on June 30th, but for some
reason, it never came about. Anyways, many of the games (as short and
limited as they are) are a lot of fun; IMHO, The Inanimator is the true
test of one's IF-playing abilities.
In any case, the demos are a lot of fun and can be downloaded at:
ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/demos/textfire/12pack.zip
Also, maybe it'd do some good to e-mail Textfire, Inc. co-founder
Shea Davis (sda...@textfire.com) about what happened to the company and
see if we'll ever be able to see full versions of these games. I, for
one, think that would be great.
-jon
"If I got stranded on a desert island (with electricity)/
And I could bring one record and my hi-fi/
I'd bring that ocean surf cd (Relaxing Sound of Ocean Surf)/
So I could enjoy the irony." - Dylan Hicks

Zerouno

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Oct 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/24/98
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Try Topologika's "Giant Killer" (by Peter Killworth). An adventure game
written for children from 8 to 13.
See you!
01, Marco


Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Oct 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/24/98
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In article <70r3gn$b2n$1...@manifold.math.ucdavis.edu>
gr...@manifold.math.ucdavis.edu (Greg Kuperberg) wrote:

> The only suitable game that I found in the IF archive was "The Underoos
> That Ate New York". My son thought it was hilarious. (We played it
> together actually.) It has a little bit of PG material but it was easy
> to skip over that.

That's perhaps the best thing anyone has ever said about Underoos. Thanks!
Note that I was intending for it to be a game children could play, and it
just got a tad racier than I was meaning for it to. I'm glad those bits are easily
ignored.



> I think that there is a temptation for authors to take their games
> to extremes. The archive games designed to challenge the player can
> be excessively difficult, even masochistic. Many of the few that are
> intended to be easy are condescending or insubstantial (not to mention
> incomplete).

Yeah. I find myself resorting to hints with most of the GMD games eventually.
Some of the puzzles are just insidious. And the intro games for kids take the other
extreme. Kids aren't dumb.

As for other games for young children, let me think...

Firebird: This game is based on a Russian folktale. Grab the game and the solution
(for the maze), and it will do nicely, since it's basically a fairy tale.

The One That Got Away: If you remember the episode of the Simpsons where Homer
goes fishing, you get the idea of this game. The puzzles (to me) were very easy. Just
be sure to ask the bait shop owner about anything you're stuck on.

Both of these games are in TADS, and can be found in /if-archive/games/tads/. Look for
(I believe) theone.gam and firebird.gam. They might be in a zip file too. I'm not positive.

Oh yeah, let me not forget what is possibly my favorite game of all GMD-dom. Uncle
Zebulon's Will. That'll be TADS too, zebulon.gam. It's a little more complicated, but oh
so sweet.

If some of these prove too hard or whatnot, sorry. There's just not that much I would
find suitable for a 5 year old on the archive. Most of it's just too hard.

----
G. Kevin Wilson: Freelance Writer and Game Designer. Resumes on demand.


David Given

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Oct 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/24/98
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In article <01bdff35$a35d6b40$d968d8d4@default>,

Zerouno <zer...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Try Topologika's "Giant Killer" (by Peter Killworth). An adventure game
>written for children from 8 to 13.

I have a copy of _L: A Mathemagical Adventure_. It was supposed to run on
a BBC, but I have fiddled it to make it work on BBC-BASIC86.

Note that both my copy of _L_ and my copy of BASIC86 are both somewhat on
the dodgy side, but neither of them are distributed any more. If you want
a copy, drop me an email and I'll send you a package (evaluation purposes
only, of course).

DOS binary.


--
+- David Given ----------------+ If you want to surf the Information
| Work: d...@tao.co.uk | Superhighway, be prepared to be run
| Play: dgi...@iname.com | over.
+- http://wiredsoc.ml.org/~dg -+

Ben

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Oct 25, 1998, 2:00:00 AM10/25/98
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In article <Pine.OSF.3.96.981024...@alpha3.csd.uwm.edu>,

Wonder Boy <jdb...@csd.uwm.edu> wrote:
> ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/demos/textfire/12pack.zip
> Also, maybe it'd do some good to e-mail Textfire, Inc. co-founder
> Shea Davis (sda...@textfire.com) about what happened to the company and
> see if we'll ever be able to see full versions of these games. I, for
> one, think that would be great.
> -jon

Er, um, uh...

I'll let someone else handle this one. :)

-Ben

--
bhi...@san.rr.com
http://members.tripod.com/~tunnels/

Michael Feir

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Oct 25, 1998, 2:00:00 AM10/25/98
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I have to disagree with you about that game. I know a bunch of younger children in the
seven to twelve age range who liked it quite a lot, despite some puzzles which taxed them.
The hints are always there, and the atmosphere of the game is quite warm and friendly.
It's certainly going to be recommended as a good gift idea in the Holiday issue of Audyssey.
You might want to try loose.z5, a comp98 game. It's the only other game i know of which is geared towards
youngsters. I suppose you might want to try Wishbringer from Infocom, or Seastalker, but I haven't
had any feedback about those from younger readers just yet. Best of luck in your search.

Michael Feir, Editor of Audyssey

pke...@hotmail.com

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Oct 25, 1998, 2:00:00 AM10/25/98
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> From: gr...@manifold.math.ucdavis.edu (Greg Kuperberg)

<snip>

Check these games out, they may be of interest.

The Adventures of Alice Who Went Through the Looking-Glass and
Came Back Though Not Much Changed, by Douglas A. Asherman.
<URL: ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/agt/alice.zip>
[this one isn't complete, but I found it interesting.]

Magic Mansion by Denise Sawicki. Play the role of a young girl
held captive by an evil wizard. Honorable mention, 4th annual
AGT game contest.
<URL: ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/source/agt/mansion.zip>
[i love this game, very cool but some of the puzzles are confusing (even
for me) but, you'll have to compile it with AGT first]

The Night of the Vampire Bunnies by Jason Dyer, somewhat a
cross between a black comedy and a B-movie
<URL: ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/zcode/bunny.z5>
[one of my favorites, you hunt down the evil vampire bunny]

Patrick

Doeadeer3

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Oct 25, 1998, 2:00:00 AM10/25/98
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In article <bhines-2410...@lax-ts4-h2-46-33.ispmodems.net>,
bhi...@san.rr.com (Ben) writes:

>In article <Pine.OSF.3.96.981024...@alpha3.csd.uwm.edu>,
>Wonder Boy <jdb...@csd.uwm.edu> wrote:
>> ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/demos/textfire/12pack.zip
>> Also, maybe it'd do some good to e-mail Textfire, Inc. co-founder
>> Shea Davis (sda...@textfire.com) about what happened to the company and
>> see if we'll ever be able to see full versions of these games. I, for
>> one, think that would be great.
>> -jon
>
>Er, um, uh...
>
>I'll let someone else handle this one. :)
>
>-Ben

There never was any company, the whole Textfire thing was an April Fool's joke.

And a way to write/play some very, very short *games*.

I wasn't around when Textfire was released (was absent from the Net for awhile)
and I didn't realize it was a joke either until someone told me (but I also
hadn't looked at the package before I was told, if I had I might have tumbled
to it).

Doe :-) Actually, I would love to see some of those games expanded. But it is
much easier to write a non-functioning *stub* than a real game.

Doe doea...@aol.com (formerly known as FemaleDeer)
****************************************************************************
"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane." Mark Twain

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