Interactive Fiction

From Fanlore
(Redirected from Interactive fiction)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Synonyms: IF, text adventures
See also: Visual Novel, Choose Your Own Adventure Fic
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Interactive fiction, or IF, is another term for text adventures. It has also been applied to various types of Choose Your Own Adventure software, websites, and books.


Text adventures grew out of the 1975 game Adventure. Its "maze of twisty passages all alike" is quoted to this day. It is the origin of the word 'xyzzy'. In the 1980s, companies produced commercial text adventure games. Infocom (maker of Zork, among other games) was the most famous of these.

This traditional type of game is one in which you type things like 'n' (to go north) or 'get lamp'.


By the 1990s, computer games had more sophisticated graphics, and companies like Infocom were out of business. A community of text adventure enthusiasts developed on usenet on the groups and Fans coded their own games using TADS or Inform (both languages developed for this exact purpose).

The amateur games distributed by this community are similar to the style of Infocom games. Some have more sophisticated NPCs than older text adventures. Some are more story-based with less of a focus on puzzles. A few are about romance, but this is much less of a focus than in the dating sim or visual novel industries.

This community has various contests and awards:

  • Interactive Fiction Competition
  • Spring Thing
  • XYZZY Awards

Notable People

  • Graham Nelson
  • Emily Short
  • Flourish
  • Andrew Plotkin

Notable Games

  • Curses
  • Anchorhead
  • Spider and Web
  • Galatea
  • Gamebook: Text Adventures

Other Types of IF

Inside of the IF community, 'interactive fiction' used to refer to Infocom-style text adventures. With the rise in popularity of Twine and similar choice-based games, it is now often used to refer to both parser-based games and CYOA games. Outside of the community, it has broader uses. It has been applied to all forms of CYOA, dating sims, visual novels, and fiction with interactive meta elements. Books like the Griffin and Sabine series (where the reader pulls physical letters out of envelopes) have been included in the category by some.

Choice of Games, founded 2009 [1], uses an easy to use scripting language called ChoiceScript, and has spawned several user created games, called Hosted Games, both free and commercial, some of which have resulted in a fandom of their own, having art and fanfiction on Tumblr and on Archive of Our Own. Notable Hosted Games include: Fallen Hero, Wayhaven Chronicles.

IF and Fanworks Fandom

The IF community sharing nonprofit text adventures has been compared to fanworks fandom's gift economy.

There is also direct overlap. Yuletide has featured some IF games, including one by Andrew Plotkin.[2]

Flourish is well known in both IF and fanworks communities and has promote each hobby to people into the other.



  1. ^ Choice of Games Wikipedia page, December 2019.
  2. ^ Bigger Than You Think by belford. (Accessed Feb 17, 2018.) Andrew Plotkin is a major BNF in the IF community but not so known in fanfiction circles