Video Gaming (EL 250)

3 Jan 2006

Interactive Fiction

To understand what Adams was talking about, you'll have to look more closely at the genre of interactive fiction.

Read Game. There are about 7 or 8 pages to this article. An excellent introduction to the genre.

Read this introduction to interactive fiction.

Play this annotated version of "Colossal Cave Adventure".

Play along with the annotation, and try to get across the crystal bridge. (Gameplay tips: You'll need to get past the snake, first! Playing IF absolutely requires you to create a map. (Here be hints and tips for Adventure.)

Once you've crossed the crystal bridge, keep playing for as long as the game holds your interest. (I've learned that some people get addicted to this kind of game, while others simply can't stand it.)

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I enjoy Zork more, somehow I can navigate better in Zork, maybe due to more interesting descriptions that hold my thought. Zork developed more of a hidden story line and puzzle solving, while this appeared to be more focused on task management. Dropping the rod before taking the bird was a dull task. I did not develope a relationship with the world. But the article gave me hope that good writers are developing more of the plot that these games sometimes lack.

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 3, 2006 01:29 PM

Some games you love, some games you hate. It has been my experience that IF is not the genre for me, but for all intensive purposes I am giving it another shot to win me over. I agree that simple is good, as I suggested about Strong Bad’s Secret Collector, but IF to me is a kind of simple that is almost too hard. Simple is supposed to be easy and easy can be fun.

IF is difficult and can cause feelings of frustration...not always fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much of an escapist as the next girl. I was not about to give up on it just yet. So, I played Adventure to see if I could get some IF juices flowing. Sure enough I got stuck at the grate opening for like 20 minutes going back and forth between there and the forest. Grrrr!

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at January 3, 2006 02:00 PM

I have found that IF games are not for me, they just lead to aggravation and the feeling of throwing my computer out the window. I, like Leslie, though I wouldn't give up the ghost just yet and try Colossal Cave Adventure but i just became extremely annoyed at the game and the way it was set up.

Posted by: Kayla Lukacs at January 3, 2006 03:52 PM

It took me a while to catch onto this game and my patience was wearing thin. I thought that it was boring especially because it was simply black and writng and it did not have the colorful animations and interesting sounds that I am used too.

Posted by: Gina Burgese at January 3, 2006 04:55 PM

I made it past the crystal bridge but I am a "clumsy oaf" according to the game. Was the creator Buddhist? This is the seventh time he's reincarnated me!

Posted by: Evan at January 3, 2006 05:10 PM

Leslie, did you try the walkthroughs or tips?

If this were a face-to-face class, I'd spend some class time letting you work on the game in groups -- it's more fun that way.

Anyway, now you all have direct experience with text-adventure games.

Way back in the dark ages, when a mouse was a rodent and "cut and paste" meant literally cutting apart a printout and gluing text chunks in different orders, librarians and middle school teachers noticed that some kids who didn't like to read would spend hours playing these text-bames games. So in the early 80s, a brief burst of scholarly papers appeared, debating the question of whether these were games or stories, or something else. Since English departments have in the past few decades become very open-minded in terms of what they study (which is forutnate for us, given the topic of this course), some of the earliest academic publications in the culural significance of games came from English departments (and middle schools and librarians).

In the late 70s, the creators of Zork (the text game that Puff mentioned as being superior to Advent) also published a technical paper, but the paper focused more on the software than on the story world.

Adventure got the world of computer geeks excited when it first became available over the internet, but because Adventure was set in a world of caves, it only appealed to a certain set of people. Legend has it that when the world of computer geeks discovered Adventure in the late 70s, work productivity dropped as everyone focused on the game, for days and days.

Zork, which was directly inspired by Adventure, had broader humor, a snarkier narrator, and more gadgets to work with (buttons to push, a flooded room, a maze with ridiculously complex rules).

All of this really appealed to engineering undergraudates.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 3, 2006 05:28 PM
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