Disambiguating "Interactive Fiction"

Apologies if this has been asked or discussed before.

First let me state that when I get into something, I really get into it. I am of the sort of person who will happily talk at length about something that interests me, and when I find something new of this sort I often “test” my friends with such talk to see if I can find anyone who might be as interested as me.

Needless to say, IF has been one such recent interest. When I’ve brought it up, one of the common things they’ve mentioned has been Choose-Your-Own-Adventures/choosable-path books/whatever the vogue phrase for those is nowadays. I, personally, have always mentally thought of IF as referring primarily to games like Zork - which I suppose might be better specified as text adventures.

I guess a sensible way to disambiguate all these phrases might be to use interactive fiction to refer to the wider genre of games that includes both text adventures (e.g. Zork) and nonlinear fiction (e.g. CYOA; I think that’s the correct term?), among other forms.

What’s the public consensus, if any? Is that correct; does it need refinement; am I off-base entirely?

Short answer: it is a term in flux, used differently by different communities.

Outside the community, it occasionally gets used to refer to any computer game with a strong emphasis on narrative. Traditionally, it’s been used to mean parser-based games in the tradition of Adventure and Infocom. Definitions have been offered, at some times, that include graphic adventures but not CYOA.

Nobody uses it to mean the strict literal meaning of the term, which would include the vast majority of computer games, as well as (for instance) tabletop RPGs.

This summary on IF Comp is a decent sketch of how the Current Enlightened Consensus is likely to turn out, which is, roughly, text games.

But not Scrabble of course…

Thanks for the link to the summary! That was a good read. Hypertext games look intriguing; I may have to look into Twine one of these days.

Note my brilliant and cowardly use of ‘roughly’, a panacea against all such small-minded cavils.

I’m just pointing out the obvious! :slight_smile: