Interactive Fiction is such a broad term that anything fits in. Indeed, even the act of flipping pages can be considered interactive. You doubt me? Take a look at all things being written under this umbrella term: some 90% will likely present a bit a of text and a link like “click here to read the next short sentence, you fucking analphabet”.
So, as an old fart with a love for both true books and games, I have a couple of suggestions for our beloved text adventures (too puerile a term):
I’ve privately thought about this before and I’d like to suggest that it doesn’t matter.
If you start really thinking about labels… RPG? Almost every game involves role-playing. Graphic adventure? Doesn’t that describe Tomb Raider, or even Prince of Persia, very well?
I’d say it’s less about what the labels mean literally and more about what we know they mean. Sure, at times the labels have to be updated, and I think that’s what happened to IF - I think (not entirely sure!) it was used before Infocom to describe some form of hypertext. Didn’t catch on the way Infocom’s marketing did. In this case, I’m not only convinced the label has no reason to be changed, I also enjoy the fact that we have, unofficially, two labels - Interactive Fiction and Text Adventure. They can be used interchangeably, or if you want you can use TA to specify an old-school game, heavy on puzzles, Zork-style, or IF to specify a new-school game, Photopia-style, or even A Mind Forever Voyaging style. It’s not something set in stone, but that’s how labels, and even language, evolves - enough people recognise that the word “dog” means that furry little animal, and that animal becomes known as “dog” forevermore. It’s also how we’ve gotten rid of, say, various hate-filled names for various ethnic groups over the years - people just stop recognising that BAD NAME X is a synonim for ETHNIC GROUP X, and after enough time goes by BAD NAME X becomes a curiosity for historians, devoid of the power to hurt.
very right about RPG. I brought this up because I saw some website called IF Classics where they port “classics” to “interactive” format. Interactive here meaning just that: page turning, pure and simple. It’s hideous…
Oh, that one. Zarf also politely commented that they may wish to reconsider their strategy. I’ve checked one out. I prefer Vaporware’s “Moby Dick” jokey “adaptation/port”, because it’s at least transparent about what it is and what it does (and, if you followed the relevant discussion in this forum, why it even exists).
The IF Classics guys mean well, I guess. But they haven’t really a clue. Which is a shame, because the idea isn’t a bad one.
I recently played Manalive, BTW. Adapted from Chesterton. It’s not without problems (oh boy isn’t it, I didn’t even get halfway through the first - of two - ZCode file for the game), but it’s far, far better than the IF Classics “games”.
EDIT - Back on topic, I suddenly remembed something you’ll find interesting. The Spanish for IF is “Aventura conversacional”. It literally means “conversational adventure”, because you play the game by talking with the computer. It’s quite interesting. Not very interesting; just quite interesting.
Yeah, sadly, someone has to tell them that this isn’t really interactive–which is too bad, because so many classic works have cool “what if” components that seem to fall out of nowhere (e.g. who is Pip’s benefactor in Great Expectations? What if Father Brown accuses the wrong person?)
I like that too. Because I think of it as a low-pressure conversation where you don’t have to respond quickly.
They reacted about as well as the Cabrera Brothers when confronted with the lack of quality of their parser. I think it’s gotten a bit ugly now, which is unfortunate. But I’m sure they’ll shrug this off and continue to do what they’re doing.
Well, it could have been a lot uglier–I think you showed restraint. And you offered a way to do things better. They do hit pretty much all the troll/spam red flags in their response.
Fortunately, since people are writing more reviews on IFDB, these efforts will be sunk and pushed to the back more quickly. And having one review from you will make a big difference. People will know they’re not just seeing things or missing things.
Part of me wants to just go through and one-star everything from IF Classics, so anyone who’s curious can note that and move on.
I don’t see why ‘text adventures’ is puerile. In fact, I think a lot of tedious so-called serious ‘literature’ could be much improved if the writer had considered that maybe… reading it should have felt more like an adventure and less like an obligatory slog. Adults not only want ‘adventure’ — they desperately need it, actually, and will go to great lengths to achieve it, employing all sorts of complex gear carefully engineered by very smart very adult people for exactly that purpose of having adventures, so I don’t really see what could be childish or trivial about trying to openly fulfill everyone’s need for a little ‘adventure’.
My guess? Sometimes people just don’t want to sound old school, because it categorises their work as ‘been done’ in some hipster-type minds, and ‘text adventure’ definitely sounds vulnerable to that. However, you can’t really fool people. They know IntFic is old school — you can’t really pretend it’s not and keep their respect, at least IMO.
Me neither. In fact, having the term “text adventure” is a good way to make me make sure that it’s not a wall of text. I think a big danger of Interactive Fiction is when it becomes less visibly interactive for the player and potentially more the writer interacting with the player e.g. swinging them to a point of view. That’s not necessarily bad, but when that’s all there is, it might as well be an electronic leaflet. And the “choose A or B” giving the same response either way, if done too often, gets tiring.
I also think Interactive Fiction makes people try too hard to Seem Literary instead of write something cool. And I really hate when a work seems ostensibly to be impressing me.
ETA: also, the problem with Interactive Fiction, to me, is that the author can be burdened with (or actively be trying to) Inspiring Interesting Discussion. This is the sort of discussion that crowded me out from reading for a while. The sort where people interrupt each other in class to get class participation points. And even when something new comes up, it’s rare to read “gee, that was neat, I’d like to try something else new.” It’s all about how This is New and Bold.
I also think it can be a bit humbling to say or think “Oh, this is just a game” as opposed to “I AM CREATING FICTION.”
This is a bit of a straw man argument, but for me, having a text adventure helps me not take things too seriously and say, I’d like this to be more interesting (vs I better be more profound.)
That’s an amusing way to look at it–and a bit truer than I’d like it to be. I suppose something can be trivially interactive, so it is classified as such. Or it can feel like the sort of conversation where you’re going “Yes, m’hm, ahh, I see” and, yes, the other guy is doing most of the work, and you’re sure they put a lot of thought into it, but unfortunately a lot of the thought was how to corner you into going along with it.
food for thought: whenever “adults” think of “adventure”, it involves sexual games; whenever they think about “adult” movies or books, they think of people getting naked and sucking, slurping and getting their soft flesh rubbing together. Just like any baby bliss at a tit. Because the hardships and dramas or life as depicted in Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky are seemingly deemed more puerile.
That said, I once read a book about pretty much nothing. It’s about a little adventure, a trip to a a lighthouse and the effect its anticipation had in the family members and those surrounding it. Trivial and yet, the narrative is something to behold. It’s nothing like I’ve ever read. It’s the real joy of the book, to watch it unfold and try to figure out what’s going on. Very puzzling, very IFing. To the lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf. In the public domain, just a few clicks away. More rewarding and pleasurable than any adult movie.
Oh, hang on, I think I know what you mean now. Are you talking about the Brazilian/Portuguese “ter uma aventura”? Because I can definitely see how that can have sexual connotations, closer to the word “affair”. And yes, the word “aventura” can definitely be used that way, in a way that “adventure” can’t or isn’t.
But in whatever language, “adventure” still makes me think of Indiana Jones.
I’ve read a couple of things by Woolf and while I love her stylistic innovation, personally I found her subject matter a little dull. To the lighthouse sounds interesting though — maybe I’ll have look at it.
As for ‘adventure’ — I have indeed heard it used in a sexual way, but it’s only a fraction of the times I’ve heard it used by adults, even among those who don’t play computer adventures. I guess things sound a little more interesting where you’re at. 8)