Kids interest in IF

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Keith Rose

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Aug 19, 2005, 9:28:19 AM8/19/05
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Summer is winding down, and to take my kid's minds off the impending
school year, I introduced them to IF. My son is 12, and he is playing
Zork right now. He's very into it, and the only advice I gave him was
to read room descriptions VERY WELL. I told him this when he was stuck
upstairs in the trophy room. This led him to discover the trap door.

Oh, and I told him how to solve the cyclops puzzle, because I always
thought the solution to that wasn't logical.

My daughter, 14, is playing Wishbringer. I haven't given her any
clues, mainly because I don't remember the game that well. But she
has > 60 points out of 100, so she's doing fine.

I am surprised to see them both so hooked, though, and they seem stoked
that there are so many more games, once they finish these. They play
their share of video games (zelda, madden, etc.) and pc games (sims),
so I wasn't sure if the "step down" to all text would be too much of
a turn-off. It probably helps that they're both voracious readers.

I'm sort of envious of them, in a way. I remember the joy of solving
these puzzles for the first time, and without help. It's fun to see
them pump their fist when they solve something that's been taking them
hours.

So, parents, anybody else try to introduce IF to their kids? What
level of interest have they shown?


--
Keith Rose (Remove all "x" characters from my email address for replies.)

there...@yahoo.com

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Aug 19, 2005, 10:06:09 AM8/19/05
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>> He's very into it, and the only advice I gave him was to read room descriptions VERY WELL.

I would add, don't forget the importance of commands like INVENTORY(I)
and for Zork, DIAGNOSE. My girlfriend is a full-blown adult, but she's
new to IF -- not all that dissimilar to an intelligent child, really.
She tends to rely on her memory for inventory, and miss clues in the
room descriptions. I'm a big believer in VERBOSE mode.

Kudos for, in the first place, raising READERS!

~JD

Keith Rose

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Aug 19, 2005, 10:26:19 AM8/19/05
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On 2005-08-19, there...@yahoo.com <there...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>> He's very into it, and the only advice I gave him was to read room descriptions VERY WELL.
>
> I would add, don't forget the importance of commands like INVENTORY(I)
> and for Zork, DIAGNOSE. My girlfriend is a full-blown adult, but she's
> new to IF -- not all that dissimilar to an intelligent child, really.
> She tends to rely on her memory for inventory, and miss clues in the
> room descriptions. I'm a big believer in VERBOSE mode.


I did tell him to turn on VERBOSE. (Can't remember if I told her?
I should do that.) Past that, I just handed each of them the grey-box
package and let them go.

They aren't playing off floppy disk, like we did in the stone age,
but I wanted their experience to match mine as close as possible.
Just 'cause I had so much fun with these games. I figure the more
they do on their own, the more ownership they'll feel over the victories.

Heck, I didn't even mention anything about it being a good idea to
draw crude maps, but I discovered my son's map of the maze on a piece
of graph paper by the computer yesterday morning.

> Kudos for, in the first place, raising READERS!

Thanks.

Zach Flynn

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Aug 19, 2005, 12:55:20 PM8/19/05
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I guess I'm younger than probably all of you. So, I thought I would
post here about it. First of all, when I was born graphical games were
in existance so that should give you all some clue. But I've always
loved to write and stuff, and, unfortunately for others, I tend to be
way too good at logic problems for my own good. I started programming
in the 4th grade, and eventually fell upon a book about Visual Basic (I
was just starting to learn) and for one of the examples it used a text
adventure game. So, I'm like wow! This is a game I could make! You
don't have to have artists and bunches of cash. It was pretty amazing.
So, I started learning the development languages a while later.
Which, by then, took one day for both TADS and Inform along with the
newsgroup for helping me out when I didn't know how to do something.
So, I guess you could say there are some of us yougins out here who not
only love to play but love to write. I'm still getting used to the
medium obviously (I've written shorts and poetry. And they're much
better than my longer prose, right now). But I just finished putting my
game together for IFComp05, so time to go and test it so the betas don't
have to do stupid things, and can focus on finding all the really big
invisible bugs! Ok, so just thought I'd say that to encourage you all
that IF is not going to die out anytime soon.

-Zach

Brendan Desilets

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Aug 21, 2005, 5:59:37 PM8/21/05
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Hi, All,

It's great to hear of your kids' interest in IF, Keith. As a teacher of
kids aged eleven to fourteen, I've had a chance to introduce lots of
them to interactive fiction. Most really like it, as long as they have
enough support to get them started.

As some readers of this newsgroup may recall, the website "Teaching and
Learning With Interactive Fiction" offers suggested stories for kids,
and some other resources, too. It's at:
http://if.home.comcast.net

I'm always interested in comments and suggestions on the site and on IF
for kids.

Keith Rose wrote:
>My son is 12, and he is playing
> Zork right now. He's very into it, and the only advice I gave him was
> to read room descriptions VERY WELL.

I can't explain the enduring popularity of _Zork_ I with kids, but they
really do like it, though it's hard for them.

> My daughter, 14, is playing Wishbringer.

An excellent choice. Kids generally love _Wishbringer_. (I do, too.)
I've had similar success with _Arthur: the Quest for Excalibur_.

>
> So, parents, anybody else try to introduce IF to their kids? What
> level of interest have they shown?

More than twenty years ago, I started reading IF with my son, who is now
thirty-five years old. We began with Scott Adams' _Pirate Adventure_ on
a Texas Instruments 99/4A computer, loading the game data from a
cassette tape player. My son loved IF then and still reads it now and
again.

Peace,
Brendan Desilets

rgrassi

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Aug 22, 2005, 3:47:46 AM8/22/05
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Hi Keith,

> So, parents, anybody else try to introduce IF to their kids? What
> level of interest have they shown?

My nephews love it.
The youngest one is learning to WRITE IF.
Rob

Keith Rose

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Aug 22, 2005, 8:22:17 AM8/22/05
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That's great! I've tried to encourage my kids to start writing their own
stories. Once they get through (complete) their first IF game, I mention
the fact that they can write their own, and see what their reaction is.

Keith Rose

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Aug 22, 2005, 8:26:55 AM8/22/05
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On 2005-08-21, Brendan Desilets <bdes...@comcast.net> wrote:
>
> I can't explain the enduring popularity of _Zork_ I with kids, but they
> really do like it, though it's hard for them.

It is a harder game, in that some of the puzzles are less fair (like the
cyclops puzzle). But it was my first foray into IF (adventure games, as
we used to call them).

> An excellent choice. Kids generally love _Wishbringer_. (I do, too.)
> I've had similar success with _Arthur: the Quest for Excalibur_.

Hmmm... Arthur is one of the handful of Infocom games I haven't played
yet. But I do have it, so maybe that can be a game we do together once
she finishes Wishbringer.

sundialsvc4

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Aug 26, 2005, 9:37:13 PM8/26/05
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Zach Flynn wrote:
> I guess I'm younger than probably all of you. So, I thought I would
> post here about it. First of all, when I was born graphical games were
> in existance so that should give you all some clue. But I've always
> loved to write and stuff, and, unfortunately for others, I tend to be
> way too good at logic problems for my own good. I started programming
> in the 4th grade, and eventually fell upon a book about Visual Basic (I
> was just starting to learn) and for one of the examples it used a text
> adventure game. So, I'm like wow! This is a game I could make! You
> don't have to have artists and bunches of cash. It was pretty amazing.

Ahh, that makes me feel good. /All/ of us should try to remember how
we first felt when /we/ first encountered Zork .. or whatever game "it"
happened to be. Because... the magic is still there.

When you are trying to /write/ the book, though, it all starts to feel
different. You know the story implicitly: you have to. And since you
do, for so many hours and days and weeks, it's easy to forget .. the
magic. It's impossible to really encounter /your/ /own/ story in the
same way that any future "reader" will, but "the magic will be there."

I think that a lot of the fun in a book subsists in the one thing that
the author him/herself /cannot/ experience, namely: "what comes next?"
It does not matter so much, really, /what/ that "next" will turn out
to be ... but rather, that you have /anticipation/ and then /surprise/
with almost every turn of the page.

Most of us out there know exactly how to defeat the cyclops in Zork ...
what the 'secret' is ... or, certainly, how to Get By The Snake. But
we must remember that there are plenty of folks who don't ... yet. And
for some or many of them, the anticipation and the pleasant surprise
will be exactly the same for them as it was, one day, for us.

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