Last year I did honours in English as part of my Bachelor of Arts, and I wrote my dissertation on interactive fiction – specifically, Galatea and A Mind Forever Voyaging. The dissertation discusses the representation of intelligent machines in interactive fiction (surprise surprise), mainly with regards to the characters of Galatea and PRISM/Perry Simm. I looked at issues like choice and free will, true intelligence as opposed to the illusion of intelligence, and – I forget what, it’s been a whole three months since I handed this thing in. I hoped to use these themes as a means of discussing the peculiarities of IF as a medium; I don’t know how successful I was, but I’d like to think it at least raises some interesting talking points.
I posted a PDF of the dissertation on my blog yesterday, and I can see from the site stats that a few people have already discovered it there. But in case anyone else is interested, I thought I’d post it here as well. So: Intelligent Machines in Interactive Fiction. (I know, it’s not going to win any awards for creative titling.) I suggest you skip the first chapter. It’s only a conventional what’s-this-IF-stuff-anyway-and-where-did-it-come-from summary, and you’ll already know pretty much everything it has to say. The meaty part of the dissertation is in the second and third chapters. If you’re really keen on reading the whole thing, though, at least the first chapter is short.