Has IF improved you in any way?

It’s rather clichèd to say that IF improves your puzzle-solving abilities, much like an adventure game might, or much like playing Super Mario Bros improves hand-eye coordination.

This is, therefore, just a little bit of curiosity that I’m indulging. I’m wondering: does playing IF actually change you? DOES it actually improve you on some level or other?

I realise I’m asking this in a community of authors/players, and I should be asking the players alone, since the relationship of a player with IF is rather different from the relation of a player/author. The author plays for enjoyment but also for seeing what is being done around him, and to get new ideas, and basically sees things in a different light - and draws different benefits - from a guy that, like myself, has given up pretenses of authorship and just has fun playing the damn things. Or is moved by them, depending.

I have felt that playing IF made me better at playing IF. Duh. It’s also, however, made me more imaginative in how I deal with problems in real life. Not the big problems, but the smaller, mechanical problems involving objects and creative ways to reach my goals.

It’s also made me more pragmatic. “This is the problem, what are the solutions?” And work from there. Also: “This situation isn’t ideal. How can it be made better?”

I’m also more attentive to the smaller things, especially in mechanically-oriented issues, but not limited to.

I consider myself to be pretty handy with a map. I haven’t tested this theory to the fullest yet, but I have acquired a certain ease to relating the level surface of a map to the three-dimensional space I’m located in. Maybe one day I’ll go out to some more remote place armed with a compass and a map, and THEN I’ll see what’s really what.

On the negative side, I’m more likely to enjoy a book in my iPod Touch in big letters than by reading an actual book. :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve gotten so used to blocks of information that I found I concentrate better that way: magnified blocks instead of sprawling pages. Weird, that.

Any further input is more than welcome.

I think everything we do or experience changes us (or at least, everything worth noting) :slight_smile:

IF has certainly changed the way I perceive my environment … not just in the “I tend to be aware of cardinal directions” sense, though that’s certainly true for me … but I tend to be more conscious of something like: there are entire neighborhoods in Denver that exists only as a backdrop for a particular bookstore, or restaurant, or friend’s house … and that would have been true anyway, but IF makes me more conscious of it, and in some casees makes it easier for me to adjust it, discard it, or reauthor it. Because the IF conventions for representing space (as connected rooms, with the rest of the environment kind of implied) while a bit abstract and arbitrary, is also kind of true.

The psychogeographical implications of game maps: the revelation that while the world is mostly composed of empty “filler” rooms, hunger daemons and carry limits, at least it’s low on mazes, grinding, “escape the room” scenarios, and parser problems.

That uh, depends on the kind of company you keep…

I often find DIY leads to a lot of guess-the-verb situations.

Writing and coding it, sure. The community, in more ways than I can fully appreciate. In my vainer moments, I might believe that reviewing and testing has made me smarter about a few things. I can’t really say anything much about playing IF, other than the stuff that would be true of any art (and more true of some forms than of IF.)

I remember that playing Zork introduced me to some new words, and was a factor in developing my interest in learning the actual meanings of words and using them properly. I’m not sure whether or not my parents considered this an “improvement.” :slight_smile:

I’ve mentioned this before and trying not to be overly dramatic…but IF pretty much made me who I am today. Might have even saved my life from being dramatically poorer and dramatically drunker.

I grew up in Milwaukee, WI (USA) very poor. Neither of my parents got past 10th grade. My dad never made more than $30k/year and my mom never more than $15k/year. My parents were about as distant from our fortunes as parents can be without being directly abusive. They certainly were negligent. I basically started fending for myself at the age of 10. Luckily I was blessed or gifted with some insight, awareness, and possibly some intelligence, because I drifted to friendships with much stronger parenting.

I did well in elementary and middle school, but hit high school and developed a great disdain for almost every aspect of the education system. I played sports and started drinking at 15 years old.

Then I discovered the two paper terminals in a room in my high school and the ability to play Dungeon and Adventure. This was 1979. It literally changed my entire life. That got me interested in computers and programming. A teacher pushed me to transfer out of the drug-infested high school and into a computer specialty school where I learned the craft of designing, writing, and testing code. I graduated…barely. That remedial science class and its final exam was a close call.

I skipped college because that really wasn’t something my family thought much about. But the coding skills eventually led me to two programming jobs in Milwaukee and then I made the leap to Chicago where I’ve been for 21 years.

I recently went through a very traumatic period in my life. A separation and divorce and a full financial meltdown related to the “great” recession. Focusing on FyreVM, Zifmia, Shadow, Secret Letter, and hanging out on ifMUD helped me a great deal to get through that mess. ifMUD alone has made me a much better person than I would have been otherwise.

The one constant in all of that time since 1979 has been my unassailable passion for Interactive Fiction.

It’s definitely improved my sense of direction, and sharpened my memory and critical thinking skills. It’s taught me to always think ahead as I read, to look closely at the little things, to try different solutions when stuck for an answer, and to explore new ways of seeing the world.
Not as inspirational as the last person, but not too shabby, I think.

Same here. Now and again, I’ll encounter a word and it’ll cross my mind that I likely first encountered that word in IF (usually Infocom, between the ages of 7 and 12). Let’s see:

Gnomon (Trinity)
Ichor (Trinity)
Pergola (Trinity)
Arboretum (Trinity)
Skink (Trinity)
Sarcophagus (Zork I)
Cyclops (Zork I)
Stiletto (Zork I)
Slavering (Zork I)
Topiary (Zork II)
Gazebo (Zork II)
Menhir (Zork II) (I’d bet I’ve encountered this word maybe once or twice since)
Footpad (Zork II)
Pentagram (Zork II)
Stradivarius (Zork II)
Moby (Zork II) (as in “moby ruby,” and to this day I’m not sure what was meant here)
Phosphorence (Zork III)
Aqueduct (Zork III)
Roc (Zork III)
Parapet (Zork III)
Translucent (Enchanter)
Gordian knot (Enchanter)
Ochre (Sorcerer)
Guano (Sorcerer)
Troglodyte (Sorcerer)
Mephitic (Spellbreaker)
Basalt (Spellbreaker)
Oubliette (Spellbreaker)
Hypercube (Spellbreaker)
Burin (Spellbreaker)
Eldritch (Wishbringer)
Conch (Wishbringer)
Shillelagh (Beyond Zork)
Palimpsest (Beyond Zork)
Hurdy-gurdy (Beyond Zork)
Glyph (Beyond Zork)
Reliquary (Beyond Zork)

And that’s just the fantasy games. More recently, I don’t think I’d encountered “orrery” before Dreamhold.

Oh yeah! Definitely ditto on menhir, burin, palimpsest and hurdy-gurdy … (not while playing, in my case, but while watching my friend Shawn play). I distinctly remember us both staring at the screen, sounding out the word “menhir,” and then looking it up …

Er, phosphorescence. Clearly I wasn’t paying enough attention.

I learned to type in order to play early IF.

Oh, my, yes. And even now, thirty years later, I still find myself using the word preferentially in the context where I first encountered it. Like, my brain recorded it as a macro:

Sorcerer (1984): “The servants have been lax lately, for a scroll is lying among the dust.”
Me to ten-year-old (2013): “You have been lax cleaning up your room. No gaming until picked up.”

I learned how to pronounce “chasm” after looking it up when i read it as a kid in Zork I. I’ve since forgotten how to pronounce it.

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Today is Independence Day in the US. To celebrate, my wife and I took our two kids swimming at the State Park. When we returned to our car afterwards, we discovered we had locked our keys inside. Fortunately, we left a window cracked, and we were able to snake a variety of objects through the window in an effort to unlock the door. We finally succeeded by using the strap from a pair of swim goggles to pull upward on the electric door lock.

My son and I both remarked that we felt like we were in a text adventure: we tried using every object in our inventory on the problem, until one of them worked. I suppose that type of creative thinking is something I learned from playing Infocom games.


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