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Space for Rent: The Gordian Knot of Interactive Fiction



Tweet of the Day:Β  Stop Saying You Only Care About Quality in the Same Breath That You Argue Against Diversity


It seems that the confusion between what is and isn’t a game continues. I heard two video game podcast struggle with that issue when discussing a new product called Everyone Gone to Rapture, about, well everyone, except the audience, being taken to heaven, leaving a small English bereft of human life in its wake. But here is the thing, I don’t get why is this such a problem? It seems that once in awhile a product comes along and just sits there in the middle of the road like the proverbial Gordian Knot. And invariably most commentators struggle to untie the knot and end up twisting themselves in the process.

Could someone hand me a sword please?

Wait, there is something written along the blade, let me see, it reads, “INTERACTIVE FICTION”.


Down goes the sword, and ye knot is cut.

Simple as you please.

Yes, I know I sound extremely conceited as you read this, but really, “walking simulators”, “art installations”, “that thing that Telltale does,” do those things sound better? Do they tackle the way these products put the emphasis on “storytelling” instead of actual gameplay? Do they talk about how these products operate at the level of the Illusion of Participation instead of the Illusion of Control so necessary in an actual game?
I mean, I get it. These are fans of games talking. And fans of anything hate to hear that they thing the love (and spent money/time on) is not a game.


Because they think it is a dismissal of not only the product, or their hobby, but of themselves. It isn’t but that doesn’t stop people from feeling like they are been dissed. And like I said in a post entitled, Don’t Call it a Game, critics feel that if these are not games, then they can not talk about them. Not true, of course, but again, I understand where they are coming from.

And Mr. George Weidman (I wrote the Mister there out of respect since we are not acquainted) it is only academic (a strange term to use when critiquing a piece of art) to the fan who will like and buy whatever they want regardless of any advice given. But to the designer, to the critic and to the consumer it is a bit more than academic.

  • To the designer it is all about focus, focus on gameplay leads to a good video game, focus on storytelling is best serve through interactive fiction.
  • To the critic having language that best describes something makes for clearer arguments and concise critiques.
  • And it always helps the consumer make a smarter buying decision.

For all these reasons, plus a few more on the video below, it is time to cut the knot and set Interactive Fiction free from the shackles of video games.


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