Category: Blog

A List of My Twenty Favorite Works of Interactive Fiction

August 3rd, 2019 by

Every four years, Victor Gijsbers compiles votes for the Top 50 interactive fiction games of all time. The aggregate is certainly compelling reading—if nothing else, to get a baseline for what might be considered “canon” (however loose) for a field that is, especially in recent years, coming from wildly disparate sources. Moreover, it’s worth noting […]

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Bruno Dias

Dialogue and Player Choice

July 31st, 2019 by

There’s a lot to say about writing compelling dialogue in an interactive format, but for this month’s column I want to drill down to the question of player intentionality as it relates to dialogue. Intentionality, of course, is the player’s ability to not only have goals within the fiction of the game, but to knowingly […]

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August 2019 Table of Contents

July 31st, 2019 by

Intrigue! Banter! The promise of danger around every corner! These things—along with memorable characters and unusual settings—are some of the things that always make me stay up late reading. Perhaps not surprisingly, the two games in this month’s issue also have these things in common. In Eleanor Hingley’s “A Tragedy of Manners,” you’re thrown into […]

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Actions, Verbs, and Processes: Games and Being Human

July 31st, 2019 by

Piled in a corner, at the nexus of walls and floor, are hundreds of multicolored pieces of candy. The cellophane wrappers glint in the light. Your docent invites you to take one. To eat part of this sculpture, to slowly diminish its weight until, dozens and dozens of visitors later, there’s little left of the […]

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Author Interview: Eleanor Hingley

July 31st, 2019 by

Eleanor Hingley has been writing and gaming, and writing about gaming, for longer than she cares to remember. Find more of her interactive fiction at https://magpie-elle.itch.io/ and non-interactive fiction at https://shadowplaytheatre.wordpress.com/. She writes reviews of role-playing games and comment on gaming culture at https://theanxiousgamer.wordpress.com/. Eleanor is the author of “A Tragedy of Manners,” from our […]

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Author Interview: Nin Harris

July 31st, 2019 by

Nin Harris is an author, poet, and tenured postcolonial Gothic scholar who exists in a perpetual state of unheimlich. Nin writes Gothic fiction, cyberpunk, nerdcore post-apocalyptic fiction, planetary romances and various other forms of hyphenated weird fiction. Nin’s publishing credits include Clarkesworld, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, The Dark, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Lightspeed. Nin is […]

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Experimenting in IF

June 12th, 2019 by

Experimenting in IF When was the last time a piece of interactive fiction blew you away with the fact that it was even possible? What was the last game where you thought, “I can’t believe that was made in _______?” Parser interactive fiction has a long, if currently stagnant history—something between a tradition and a […]

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Once Upon a Time in the Age of Fable

June 4th, 2019 by

I wanted to talk a bit about a singular and peculiar pre-Twine, choice-based game that came out in 2006 called Age of Fable. Even now there’s not anything (that I’ve found!) particularly like it.   The FAQ for the game also points to this indeterminate, fluid history. The text describes the game as an “RPG” but […]

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Dukes and Dumbledore: Truth and Canonicity in Stories

June 1st, 2019 by

When JK Rowling unceremoniously announced that beloved wizard-headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay, the hundreds of fans packing Carnegie Hall apparently all fell silent—before bursting into applause [1]. Most fans, myself included, rejoiced. The Potterverse was gay! It was only later that I realised that my reaction was a little peculiar. Nowhere in the text does […]

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Interview: Hannah Powell-Smith

June 1st, 2019 by

Hannah Powell-Smith makes narrative games about fantasy politics, flawed characters, and fraught relationships. Often, ghosts are involved. Find her work at Choice of Games, sub-Q Magazine, and hannahps.itch.io, and find her on Twitter at @hpowellsmith. Hannah is the author of our June story, “Dead Lake Crossing.” This interview was conducted via e-mail in May of […]

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June 19 Table of Contents

May 29th, 2019 by

There’s a French term, l’esprit d’escalier (literally “staircase wit”), which refers to the experience of coming up with clever or insightful things to say hours after a conversation. For better or worse, the term perfectly describes many of my own social interactions. Our games this month both consider a similar theme. In “Dead Lake Crossing,” […]

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Aisle: Twenty Years Later

April 9th, 2019 by

Aisle by Sam Barlow is one of the foundations of post-Infocom interactive fiction. This isn’t just from the impact on other one-move games, such as Pick Up the Phone Booth and Aisle (played for laughs), or Rematch (played for puzzles), or even more recent games like Midnight. Swordfight. that take the one-move conceit and expand […]

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Failing Forward

April 1st, 2019 by

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is out at last and so I’m thinking again about the perennial theme of FromSoftware’s loosely-connected Souls series: Failure. Failure is part of life, and it’s an ingrained feature of storytelling. Writing-101-type story structures often incorporate some aspect of failure: heroes make mistakes or are set back by their inability to […]

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Author Interview: Elizabeth Smyth

April 1st, 2019 by

Elizabeth Smyth is a writer, game developer and villain enthusiast, currently working for Fusebox Games in London. She has been making weird and/or dark IF since 2013. Read some more of it at elizabethsmyth.com or find her tweeting about slime at untiltheygo. Elizabeth is the author of our April story, “The Invader.” This interview was […]

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April 2019 table of contents

April 1st, 2019 by

Encounters between the everyday and the unknown are a big part of what makes speculative fiction (and, I would argue, art in general) so effective at pulling us out of ourselves and into the mind of someone else. It’s this tension that gives Poe his eerie cerebral terror and LeGuin’s worlds their endless beauty—and their […]

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Hounds & Heroes: Control, Closure, and Exploration in Games

April 1st, 2019 by

Games fetishize heroes. Traditionally, games devote their attention to the Hero and the details of their epic quest. We players, bloodhounds slavering for plot, fixate on this Hero. We tear into them, inhabit them, and through their agency, we exert change on an authored world. Killing is often involved. (The bloodhound metaphor still holds.) * […]

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