Talk:Interactive fiction

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  • DGJ - 19 Aug 2002
  • DGJ - 20 Aug 2002 (after RF)
  • MGH - 05 Nov 2002
  • DGJ - 25 Jan 2004 (integrating NM's suggestions)

Well?  :) --DGJ

Nice try ;-) I think I'd expand that "what happens next", since it currently suggests that something positive always happens, thus downplaying the "don't understand", "can't do that" and "nothing happens" responses that are pretty common (especially if the designer hasn't done too good a job).

Also, did something go wrong with that last sentence?

[RF 19Aug02]

OK, thanks Roger-- I've revised to reflect your comments. DGJ - 20 Aug 2002

Removed the (hesitant, tentative) beginning phrase "For the limited purposes of this glossary." Removed "or menu selections" since while some IF has such, this is not "generally" the way commands are entered. I think DGJ, ES, and I all agree that a parser is essential to IF, and I'd be surprised to find anyone who didn't think a parser was generally part of IF. I'm less certain that everything has to be "textual," although what IF Theory talks about is indeed all text-based. I left this in place, but concluding with the comment about "conventional literary hypertext" is not really relevant and does not help to define what IF is. Besides, many computer programmers consider anything that accepts input from a user to be interactive (as opposed to batch), so it may not be true. NM - 18 Feb 2003

In response to NM: Brian Whittaker appended a comment (below) in which he argues that a parser is not required. It seems to me that making some comparison between hypertext and command-line IF is justifiable, since I can imagine someone who considers hypertext literature to be "interactive fiction" might appreciate some statement of the difference between IF and hypertext. DGJ - 19 Feb 2003

I read the appened comment, and I was writing specifically in response to it. The part about hypertext is probaby "justifiable," I just didn't think it was important to a definition, and it seems to elevate hypertext in importance a great deal. Why not distinguish specifically between CYOA books and IF, or between Myst and IF? People are more likely to confuse those. But it seems a pretty good definition as is. NM - 20 Feb 2003

Nick has raised some good points, which I've addressed by making more explicit what I see as the biases of those of us who enjoy and study IF. For more on what IF is and what it is not, see Interactive Fiction -- How Is It Different?, which does attempt to differentiate IF from several other computer genres, but which is too detailed for this definition. My sense is that the new media theorists who would be interested in this bibliography would probably appreciate knowing this particular community's take on the term; the gamers would probably already know enough about the genre to find the distinctions Nick mentions to be largely unproblemmatic. At any rate, I tried to keep the first paragraph relatively simple, and reserved the eggheaded stuff for the second paragraph. -- DGJ - 13 May 2003

Dennis, I didn't want to change anything, but the term "interactive fiction" doesn't originate with Infocom as the sentence citing the DM4 suggests. As I write in chapter 1 of Twisty Little Passages, it "was apparently coined by Robert Lafore and popularized by Scott Adams of Adventure International more than 20 years ago (Liddil 1981, Lafore 2002), and was then used widely by Infocom to designate their canonical works." I can get you the page number for that if you like, but more importantly, the sources I cite are:

  • Liddil, Bob. 1981. "Interactive Fiction: Six Micro Stories." Byte 6:9, 436, September.

NM - 11 June 2003