Dramatic irony in interactive fiction

I cannot fail to avoid disagreeing any less! …or more. Whichever.

There are dozens of horror adventure games that start with you walking into a haunted house. (Mystery House in 1980, and I forget whether Scott Adams did it earlier.) The tension is there and the player does it anyway, because games have well-established conventions for conveying which way the plot is moving. It really is just like the opening of a horror movie or book, except that it’s got interactivity (in the usual game-intro / tutorial mode).

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Yes, and there are lots of games where progress involves doing something that you (the player) know is a bad idea, but you do it anyway, because it’s the way you go on in the game.

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Yes, but those games don’t involve tension arising from dramatic irony. The medium isn’t neutral - certain tropes can’t be used within it. But then IF can use techniques that passive media can’t.

Why not?

EDIT-ADD: I mean, you said:

and this is not true. The player can have an impulse to avoid the door, and yet not avoid the door, because of countervailing impulses. And this can create sickening tension.

When watching a movie (for example) the audience’s impulse to restrain the character can grow without bounds precisely because it doesn’t affect anything. When playing a game in which the audience controls the character, the difference between the impulse to do a thing and the impulse to NOT do that thing cannot be very great if the audience is meant to get around to doing that thing sooner or later. A certain amount of tension comes from having conflicting impulses - to do and not do - but that tension is largely resolved when a decision is made.

Just a quick note: the IF Theory reader has an article that addresses dramatic irony in IF, particularly as it’s dealt with in Cadre’s “Phototopia”.