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Interactive fiction

Related: video games - hypertext - interactive - fiction - nonlinearity

The term "interactive fiction" is also occasionally used to refer to hypertext fiction, used to refer to literary works that are not read in a linear fashion, but rather the reader is given choices at different points in the text; the reader's choice determines the flow and outcome of the story. [Jul 2006]

IF author, developer, and critic Graham Nelson has characterized interactive fiction as "a narrative at war with a crossword puzzle".


Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, describes software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as computer games. In common usage, the word refers to text adventures, a type of adventure game with text-based input and output. The term is sometimes used to encompass the entirety of the medium, but is also sometimes used to distinguish games produced by the interactive fiction community from those created by games companies. It can also be used to distinguish the more modern style of such works, focusing on narrative and not necessarily falling into the adventure game genre at all, from the more traditional focus on puzzles. More expansive definitions of interactive fiction may refer to all adventure games, including wholly graphical adventures such as Myst.

As a commercial product, interactive fiction reached its peak in popularity in the 1980s, as a dominant software product marketed for home computers. Today, interactive fiction no longer appears to be commercially viable, but a constant stream of new works is produced by an online interactive fiction community, using freely available development systems. Most of these games can be downloaded for free from the Interactive Fiction Archive (see external links). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_fiction [Feb 2004]

Hypertext fiction, electronic literature and interactive fiction

Hypertext fiction
Hypertext fiction is a genre of electronic literature found mostly online, characterized by non-linearity and reader interaction. The reader typically chooses links to move from one node of text to the next, and in this fashion arranges a story from a deeper pool of potential stories.

The first hypertext fictions were published prior to the development of the World Wide Web, using software such as Storyspace and Hypercard. Michael Joyce's Afternoon, a story is generally considered the first hypertext fiction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext_fiction [Sept 2005]

Electronic literature
The term electronic literature refers to works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer. Within the broad category of electronic literature are several forms and threads of practice. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_literature [Sept 2005]

Michael Joyce
Michael Joyce (b. 1945) is an author and scholar of hypertext. His afternoon: a story (1986) was among the first literary hypertexts to present itself as undeniably serious literature, and experimented with the short-story form in novel ways. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Joyce [Sept 2005]

See also: interactive fiction - books - novel - fiction - Robert Coover - hypertext

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