IF - Fiction, game or what

3 views
Skip to first unread message

Thomas Nilsson

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

A few recent (and current) threads on r.a.i-f deal with the subject of
defining what we are discussing in this groups, or viewed from the other
way, the meaning of Interactive Fiction.

Some attempts has been made to go back to definitions of words, so let
me make my own:

Interactive - enabling the possibility for a 'user' to affect
the result, outcome or even looks of something

Fiction - a narrative of something not Fact, i.e. it hasn't
happened or does not exist

These basic definitions put together comprise everything from
hyperfiction, "choose your own" books, many board games, computer games,
etc. etc.

But like other etiquettes they are not always used to *really* mean all
that it could. IT (Information Technology) is a term introduced to
describe computerised information management (sort of). Taken to its
basic definition it should actually include also newspapers, television,
etc. but it has been narrowed down until it almost only means
Internet...

OK, back to IF. The problem is of course to define the border line
between what we think is IF and what isn't, and I suppose everybody has
their own view on this, so here is mine:

Interactive Fiction is everything which produces a narration of a story
(as defined by Webster: an account of incidents or events) that can be
not only experienced by the 'reader/viewer/user' but also influenced by
him/her. It also gives the 'user' the possibility to interact with
aspects of the world in the story so that the events in the story may
vary (and thus also the narration).

So IF is more than hyperfiction and choose-your-own-path books, because
they only provide a fixed set of stories.

IF does not include participatory writing either, because IF does not
"hand over artistic control of the story to a stranger". Instead the
influence on the story from the 'user' is limited to what the author has
decided. A narrative will of course depend on 'user' made modifications
of the 'stage'. But with regard to the story that evolves, one work
might almost completely disregard 'user' made changes, other might
change completely, depending on the authors intentions (or stamina).

So Interactive Fiction, almost like alternate universe, is work of
fiction which spans an endless, but limited, spectra (spectrum?) of
stories defined by the author.

The terms games, litterature and some other that has been used, need to
be defined separately, because as someone mentioned a work can be IF and
game and litterature and graphic and good all at the same time. It all
depends!

My views, of course...

Thomas


--
"Little languages go a long way..."
(ThoNi of ThoNi&GorFo Adventure Factories in 1985)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thomas Nilsson Phone Int.: (+46) 13 12 11 67
Stenbrötsgatan 57 Phone Nat.: 013 - 12 11 67
S-582 47 LINKÖPING Email: th...@softlab.se
SWEDEN alan-r...@softlab.se for info
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Paul Oliveira

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

In article <31B709...@softlab.se>,
Thomas Nilsson <th...@softlab.se> wrote:

>So Interactive Fiction, almost like alternate universe, is work of
>fiction which spans an endless, but limited, spectra (spectrum?) of
>stories defined by the author.

"endless, but limited"? Well, that's really cleared the air in this debate,
hasn't it? <g> Actually, I think I know what you mean. Endless
possibilities, limited reality? The two faces of game fiction, you might
call them.

Paul.


John Wood

unread,
Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
to

In article: <31B709...@softlab.se>
Thomas Nilsson <th...@softlab.se> writes (a lot more than):

>
> So IF is more than hyperfiction and choose-your-own-path books, because
> they only provide a fixed set of stories.

I'm sorry, but I must quibble.

IF also provides a fixed set of stories. The range of choice is vastly
greater than the other forms, but the limits are there - based on a
combination of the game and library authors' abilities to foresee what
the player will type. Admittedly, it's like comparing a 1K ZX81 (or
other early home computer) to the latest bells-and-whistles multimedia
machine, but it's still a quantitative rather than qualitative
distinction.

(There are other differences - not least the input mechanism - but this
is what I firmly believe concerning story provision).

John


Greg Ewing

unread,
Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
to

Paul Oliveira wrote:
>
> "endless, but limited"? Well, that's really cleared the air in this debate,
> hasn't it? <g>

Actually it makes about as much sense as many other
properties of infinite things, e.g. the fact that
there are infinitely many integers and infinitely
many real numbers, but there are more real numbers
than integers!

Actually this is more relevant than it might seem,
since the number of programs you can write with
a given language (e.g. Inform), although infinite,
is countable, whereas the number of possible
fictional ideas is... well... hard to say what
it is...

> Paul.

Greg

Joe Mason

unread,
Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

"Re: IF - Fiction, game or", declared jo...@elvw.demon.co.uk from the
Vogon ship:

j>> So IF is more than hyperfiction and choose-your-own-path books,
j>> because they only provide a fixed set of stories.

j>I'm sorry, but I must quibble.

j>IF also provides a fixed set of stories. The range of choice is
j>vastly greater than the other forms, but the limits are there - based
j>on a combination of the game and library authors' abilities to
j>foresee what the player will type. Admittedly, it's like comparing a
j>1K ZX81 (or other early home computer) to the latest
j>bells-and-whistles multimedia machine, but it's still a quantitative
j>rather than qualitative distinction.

I disagree - it is a qualitative distinction, because the input
mechanism gives more of an *illusion* of free-will. Even if the player
can only go path A or path B, it often seems much less restricted
because the player is doing it on their own initiative instead of
picking from a list. And since this is a form of entertainment and/or
art, what the reader perceives is much more important to the story then
what is actually there.

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 þVultures only fly with carrion luggage.

John Wood

unread,
Jun 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/17/96
to

joe....@tabb.com (Joe Mason) writes (much snipped):

>
> j>> So IF is more than hyperfiction and choose-your-own-path books,
> j>> because they only provide a fixed set of stories.
>
> j>IF also provides a fixed set of stories. The range of choice is
> j>vastly greater than the other forms, but the limits are there -
>
> I disagree - it is a qualitative distinction, because the input
> mechanism gives more of an *illusion* of free-will.

Oh! Ah...I agree entirely with you there. It may seem that I was
being incredibly dense, but I honestly didn't realise that was what
you meant.

> And since this is a form of entertainment and/or
> art, what the reader perceives is much more important to the story then
> what is actually there.

Indeed. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

John


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages