Fictional IF games

I’ve read the creepypasta tale "Pale Luna" about a buggy interactive fiction game with gruesome real-life consequences.

Today, I read SCP-2527 (aka Massy’s Big Chance), on the SCP Wiki, about an ancient statue that is controlled via text commands.

Neither of these are that great of stories (although I prefer Pale Luna out of the two). I was wondering, though, has any encountered other fictional Interactive Fiction games?

(Apparently people have tried making versions of Pale Luna, but they don’t correspond to the original story.)

Right now, I’m thinking of Dragon Magazine back in the day (the day being the 80s). I’m sure many of you know it to be a monthly magazine resource mainly for DnD gamers, but in reality, it covered many games both tabletop and computer. They also had original fiction in each issue; a short story by a featured author.

I remember there was one story that involved a protagonist playing a game of interactive fiction and the story alternated between her real life and her game life. The game was very much a Zork-alike.

I don’t remember the name but I’m going to go ahead and look into it and I’ll get back to you with more info about it.

I found this story. It’s not the one I’m thinking of but it seems to fit your request.

It’s called “Catacomb”.

edited to add: The more I research, the more I’m thinking it IS the one I was first thinking of.

The closest I could think of was Yoon Ha Lee’s short story “Conservation of Shadows” pulling in bits of IF terminology/framing – but it doesn’t actually involve an in-universe game as such.

The movie Big (1988) showed a few moves of a fictional illustrated parser game.


Stories Untold (in the first chapter at least) has the player interacting with a vintage terminal and playing a text adventure which has some “real world” effects. Such as

when the lights are described as going out in the text game, the lights actually go out in the fictional graphic world portrayed onscreen, which shows your desk and a lamp.

This might qualify; you are diegetically playing a text game within the game.

Endless, Nameless is a very accurate meta recreation of a BBS door game RPG adventure. Also Treasures of a Slaver’s Kingdom - although they aren’t “fictional” in the sense of not existing, there is lore that they are real games from a different era.

Though I don’t in any way wish to “hackle” the “ire” of a beloved and laureled IF author


in any way, you didn’t hear this from me, but I suspect

Crocodracula is wrapped in lovingly-cozy vintage lore created for it, including an accurately distressed physical game box photographed by the author. This is convincing enough that I found it necessary to secretly moderate a forum poster who almost became seriously angry when Veeder wouldn’t provide copies of the “original discs” for historical posterity and preservation.

I was recently amused to discover that in Howl’s Moving Castle (the book, not the film), Howl gives his nephew a magically conjured computer game, which seems to be a text adventure, about his moving castle. It’s just a brief vignette, but it does include some of the opening text from the game!

My game “Aunts and Butlers” (and the tea-making puzzle) originated in a short play I wrote called “Nerds”, and got deficitionalised for IFComp a couple of years later.

Diana Wynne Jones seemed to have a bit of an interest in that. Deep Secret involved computer games to though as I remember they were a bit more like RPGs.

Geez, I’ve forgotten all these DWJ references. I am ashamed.

When the OP mentioned SCP-2527, I was reminded of SCP-687, AKA Noir.
Basically it’s a vintage IF game for the C64 (with a very, very good parser) that takes place between 1923 and 1942.
To cut a long story short, let’s just say your actions within the game have repercussions in real life. For example, a D class was instructed to place a classified ad in the ██████████ Gazette reading “Dr. ██████ is a loser.” Shortly thereafter, an archived copy of the gazette is found, including said ad.
By far one of my favorite SCP’s.

Jonathan Lethem wrote a short story called “The Happy Man” where a father and son are creating an interactive fiction game (using an unspecified development system) based on the father’s dreams of a psychological hellscape. It’s quite good. Published in the 1996 collection The Wall in the Sky, the Wall of the Sky.

Quite interesting.

I’m reminded of this exchange from the Red Dwarf episode Terrorform, from season 5:

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That’s awesome. I love me some Red Dwarf.

I must have seen that episode half a dozen times, but I never noticed the positive vision of a future where, in a world of total immersion videogames and artificial reality suites, console-based text adventures still exist.

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