Returning

It’s been a busy couple of months at the day job, and hard to get back to this since I got interrupted. But I never wanted the blog to be the sort of quick and passionate commitment that’s easy to burn out and put down, so I’m picking it up again. I’m planning to write my first few returning posts about interactive fiction, which is my current obsession in the arena of words, words, words.

Works of interactive fiction, also known as text adventures, fascinated me when I was younger. I didn’t have much computer access as a kid, so I got snatches of it here and there — an hour in a computer class at school, or a little while at a friend’s house. My loose definition of a text adventure is that it’s a weak form of programming in which your aim is to create a story. The author’s program provides an initial setting and you respond by giving input. By wrangling back and forth between your input and the program’s output, you try to explore the world and get through the narrative, often by solving puzzles.

One of the famous works of interactive fiction which I played as a kid was Infocom’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I was not good at this game. I could never get off the Vogon ship, and, if you’ve read the book at all, you know that’s not far into the story. Similarly, I had Zork on one of my first computers, and, while I kept thinking this was a cool thing that I should get into, I didn’t really have the patience to explore the game and figure it out.

Lately, I’ve been discovering that, not only can you still play a lot of these old games, there’s a community still creating interactive fiction. Rediscovering this form as an adult, I’ve found that I better understand the mindset that gets a person through these games, and that playing them is an interesting way to approach questions of story. So, that’s my preview for the moment. After that intro, my next few posts will be devoted to talking about particular games.

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