Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

11/18/2002

Hypergolem

The results of the 2002 Interactive Fiction competition are in.

Interactive fiction is an art form that uses the coding and interface of the 1980s text-only computer game (a la Zork, Planetfall, or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) for contemporary storytelling aims. You, the player, find yourself in an environment with which you need to interact (hence, putting the "Interactive" in interactive fiction). Like fiction in general, IF has sprouted off into many different content genres. Some stick close to their adventure gaming roots, some become character studies, while some become highly experimental. The best IFs require an expert mix of programming expertise and quality writing. The games are free. There is no commercial market for IF, so the whole community has taken a very zine-like, DIY feel to it. Most game designers are also reviewers, and the quality of game design theory (inc. and esp. simulationism) is very high. Most $50 games you can buy at Best Buy are shit-fests with no story. In general, works of IF die without story.

Provides a different and perhaps more satisfying layer to hypertext fiction. IF is sometimes looked down upon by StorySpace artists because of the trappings of the "game," but the immersive effect of grappling with a landscape creates a higher level of mimesis (although some IF authors are not interested in mimesis, and sometimes brilliantly so).

Amongst the more intriguing works for this year's comp is "Moonlit Tower" by Yoon Ha Lee, regular F&SF contributor.

Interested parties can investigate, e.g., Brass Lantern's beginning IF resources. To start downloading and playing. Recommendations later, perhaps, although A.'s Isolato Incident might be of interest to a few.

But what does A. know

End hypergolem

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