Brecht and IF


(Daniel Stelzer) #1

I’ve gotten into some discussions recently about the playwright Bertolt Brecht. He had some very unorthodox ideas about theatre:

He broke a lot of the usual conventions of the medium, for example, reading stage directions out loud, addressing the audience in between scenes, having actors hold up signs to indicate which character they were portraying, and changing the setting suddenly and unexpectedly.

I don’t expect there to be any IF out there that follows Brecht’s ideas exactly, but a lot of the techniques he used have become popular outside his idea of “Epic Theatre”. Are there any works of IF that use these sorts of techniques? Deadline Enchanter has been suggested, and the opening scenes certainly seems to fit (though I haven’t finished it yet).


#2

Only weak relevance, but I felt that the “day in the life of an NPC” presented in Zork: A Troll’s Eye View was a little Brechtian.


#3

Would the “taking place on a movie set” conceit of “Conan Kill Everything” qualify?


(Hanon Ondricek) #4

Hi, I’m Hanon, and I’m a theater nerd. (HI HANON) I could totally get behind a theory that standard IF prose as initially normalized by Infocom could be thought of as Brechtian.

is very direct and presentational when compared to how a non-interactive story would describe it.

Maybe it’s just the 2nd person viewpoint, but:

from For a Change sounds very much like something I could picture actors saying to the audience in an experimental theater production.

I know you asked about the reverse, but the opening of OUR TOWN is “quasi-Brechtian” and almost sounds like the intro to an IF, even with frikking banner text.


#5

I don’t know much about Brecht, but your description sounds something like Adventure, with its occasional reminders that the adventure experience is artificially constructed (the chatty narrator, the “cave hours” concept), culminating in the ending where you suddenly find yourself in a “backstage” area stocked with extra copies of the magical items you’ve been using and you realize that the whole adventure is some kind of tourist attraction. So this element may have been part of IF pretty much from its inception.


#6

Check out Craverly Heights.


(matt w) #7

Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes, which at one point displays a bunch of code referring to variables that aren’t in the game, seems on point. Though perhaps less outwardly coherent than Brecht usually is.

Thirty Flights of Loving, which is a graphical adventure, feels a little Brechtian at some points (especially the art exhibit at the end), though in my experience Brecht doesn’t fragment things and make you try to figure them out the way that game does.


#8

Not interactive fiction, but you might want to check out this pen&paper RPG by Greg Costikyan. It is explicitly influenced by Brecht.