I’ve played IF on the Kindle and phone, and I think mobile platforms have the potential to open up IF to a new audience. What Em is saying is important to take into consideration. I think typing a noun (or on the phone touching the noun), and getting a list of applicable verbs would be an excellent solution for beginning players. But not spoilery (for lack of a better word) as to how they could solve puzzles (for example you still have to choose what to cut with the knife, or jimmy with the crowbar, etc). There is also the benefit of teaching the players to play traditional IF (once they’ve played one of these games through they will know what verbs to use, how to move around, how to examine things, how to think about puzzle solving). Especially if you have the parser retype the command in the proper order (eg. they select ‘sword,’ ‘kill,’ and ‘orc’ but it appears as ‘kill orc with sword’ in the game).
I’ve recently played a game (not sure if I should mention which, as it’s still in Beta-testing on the Kindle platform), but it has a drop down menu with “think about goals” (you can also type ‘think’) which is a useful addition to any long IF for beginning players (heck, even for experienced players). It doesn’t tell you how to achieve those goals, but just as a reminder (oh, yeah, I forgot about that dude, hmmm, I really should go and ask him about xxxx, kill him, ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage, etc).
I think including a map of (at least most) places in the game would also be beneficial for games intended for mobile platforms (like the kindle, but also ipad/pod, android tablets, etc), as you are not going to be at a desk with paper and pen to hand for making maps, and tbh, even as an experienced IF player I can rarely be bothered (games with large environments that require mapping just don’t get much playtime from me), expecting a new player to work out that they need to map, and making them want to, would be even harder. Of course you can still have secret passageways, and doors, etc - as long as the writer doesn’t go overboard the player should be able to remember where they are.
Just a few ways that IF could be made more accessible. I think Em’s idea of the drop down menu of verbs is a good one (though have no idea how hard it would be to code for this). If it can be made to work it will definitely make games more accessible, and I don’t really see how it will ‘ruin’ games. Sure, being able to type bizarre stuff and get a response is awesome, but not necessary for the enjoyment of most games I’ve played.