Jerz: Writing for the Internet (EL 236)


27 October 2006

Introduction to Interactive Fiction

Interactive fiction is a kind of text-based computer games. The genre has been around since the mid 1970s, dating from an era in which computers typically displayed their output on long streams of folded paper rather than on a video screen.

In the late 60s, when the internet was created, computer interfaces were designed to do only one thing -- accept typed command from the operator, and display a textual response.

Command Line Interface

The command line interface (CLI) was a huge advance over stacks of punch cards. Although it seems antiquated and strange to most people today, anyone who used computers would have been trained to understand the CLI, and would in fact have considered it a natural and effective way of communicating with the computer. There weren't home PCs at this time, so the only people who would have come into regular contact with computers would be researchers, academics, and other professionals who had work to do that they couldn't do any other way.

We have already spent some time looking at how the special characteristics of the World Wide Web have changed the way people write. Let's experiment with the command line interface, and then consider how the special characteristics of this medium led to specific kinds of electronic writing. Our goal is to look closely at a medium that will be very unfamiliar to most of you, so that we can focus on the relationship between writing (and reading) and the medium in which the text exists.


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Project 1: Final

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