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Author Interview: Stephen Granade
2020-03-31 · by Natalia Theodoridou
Stephen Granade is a physicist and writer living in Huntsville, Alabama, the city with its own Saturn V rocket. He talks about interactive fiction as @Sargent on Twitter. Stephen is the author of our April game, “Binary.”
This interview was conducted over email in January 2020.
sub-Q Magazine: What prompted you to create “Binary”?
Stephen Granade: I wondered if you could create an interesting interactive story where, for most of it, you only choose between two options. The narrative designer Jon Ingold has talked about three being the right number of choices and how two choices is boring, so of course I wanted to try just having two.
I like interactive stories where the choice structure is reflected in the story and theme, and I’ve long wrestled with our tendency to boil decisions down to two options. That led me to a story where the character you interact with, Alma, was faced with a terrible situation and only considered two options. Everything else flowed from there.
sub-Q Magazine: Why did you choose to tell this story interactively?
Stephen: I wanted you to consider what you’d have done in Alma’s shoes, and how you respond to Alma’s choices. Because “Binary” is interactive, you don’t engage with these questions abstractly. You have to make concrete choices.
It also let me leave more to the imagination. The story’s a dialog between you and Alma, but you never hear your own words. You have to figure them out from how Alma responds.
sub-Q Magazine: You often blend entertainment and education. Do you see interactive fiction as a good educational tool? What else can interactive fiction be a tool for?
sub-Q Magazine: Any recent works of interactive fiction you particularly enjoyed?
sub-Q Magazine: What would you like to see more of in interactive fiction?
sub-Q Magazine: What’s next for you?