Calling it “interactive fiction” is problematic

Montfort likes to call text adventures interactive fiction through most of his article. In a way, this name associates text-based adventures with literature (a very serious and artistic thing). He is maybe hoping that calling it IF will lend credibility to a genre that is made mostly for fun. But is that association really helpful? Consider IF’s audience: most likely 17-24 year old males who like dungeons and dragons. Seeing IF as literature does not help us understand its purpose.

The author, wisely, examines IF through seeing it as a puzzle, riddle, or a game, and I think that this is what IF should mainly be thought as. The people who bought text-adventures were not looking for multi-fasceted characters or excellent plot development; they were looking for an elaborate puzzle with an exciting story, with elements of danger and exploration. In this way, I feel IF is a glorified playground game where the players go on pretend epic quests, not as literature.

I feel that the term “adventure video game” has been created specifically to address this issue. No longer do we call video games literature, because literature is not what the creators are aiming for in the first place.

Then again, the medium does have wonderful works of art. These have been mentioned before by other bloggers- but Zelda games, Shadow of the Colossus, and others are undoubtedly visionary and were not necessarily geared toward twitchy teenagers but rather patient gamers interested in an epic story. Final Fantasy X made me cry. So I’d say while there are many videogames that should not be considered as literature or art, there are a few that are worthy of that description.

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