quinta-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2015

Interactive fiction

Right now, I’m re-reading the excellent book Emergence in Games, written by Penny Sweetser. The author masterfully created a comparison table between some different kinds of games, like interactive fiction, linear gameplay, sandbox games and emergent gameplay. In this post, I want to focus on the first type of game in this group, to discuss some nuclear features about the category.

Sweetser (2008, p.54) defines interactive fiction in a clear way - the author says that interactive fiction “was the first step away from passive media, such as movies and books”, and remembers us that in interactive fiction, “the players are still very much the receivers of information, rather than active agents in the game world”. Here, player interaction is in the form of limited choices between transmissions of a linear story.

In interactive fiction games, “players have no real choices, impact, or control of the game world” and they “simply act out a pre-scripted path, playing a slightly more active role than if they were to simply observe the story from the outside” (SWEETSER, 2008, p.55). This kind of narrative is, in a certain way, very similar to the old RPG books with multiple (and delimited) choices.

Finally, this author (2008, p.56) presents us the idea that the “gameplay in interactive fiction can be characterized by the discrete nature of its interactions” and players “can only ever choose from a specific list of interactions in any one scene, such as typing a keyword, clicking on an object, or choosing an option from a list”.

To illustrate an example let’s take a look in the past to one of the earliest interactive fiction computer games: ZORK. Check out the video below:

In due course, I want to discuss in another post some other genres explained by Sweetser, to deepen these concepts.

Go gamers!


SWEETSER, Penny. Emergence in Games. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2008.

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