Interactive Fiction-speak: A Linguistic Conspiracy! :D

I had a weird thought and was wondering if anyone with experience in Inform7, TADS, or some other programming language could offer their insight:

Inform7 and languages like it rely on a specific syntax to make creating IF easier. That is, you can say something like “The marching band is in the kitchen” and they become something you can interact with, if you’re in the kitchen.

There’s something in linguistics called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which essentially states that language influences thought; the way we think is, at least in some small way, determined by the words we have. Kind of like how Newspeak worked in 1984.

Question for all:
If you work in an IF language, do you find that it shapes your creations into a specific type of world, maybe with objects that you pick up and carry around, inventory, settings, certain types of dialogue, etc.? Do you notice it?
Apologies if I’m being naive in some way through not having more experience with I7 and other languages.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis isn’t easy to apply to programming languages. (It’s even debatable if it applies to natural languages; personally I don’t believe it does or the influence is too small to be of any significance.) It’s obvious that what the programming language brings with its standard library will be used in most games and if something can be done in two ways and the other is trivial in the language and the other requires a lot of work and expertise, most authors are likely to take the easy way unless the game absolutely requires something else. For example when you TAKE ALL in an Inform game you always get the same kind of output:

Changing the format to something else takes a lot of effort so most authors just let it be. Another example is that TADS authors are more likely to use suggested topics for conversation because the standard library supports it directly. Inform authors use more varied techniques because the library doesn’t advocate any particular method as strongly.

On the other hand having standard functionality is good so that authors don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time, but on the other hand it could be argued that less variety hinders innovation.

The more interesting question and more relevant to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is if the wording the language uses affects the game design. Do games have more indoor locations because most systems call game locations “rooms”? Do Inform games have more male than female animals because the animal kind defaults to male? I don’t think so, but who knows if there’s some subconscious influence somewhere in there.

I’d say almost certainly yes on both counts - structure and ease of use influences what makes it in, and assumptions for use influence how those things are made, too. Of course, many of the default states aren’t original to the language; Inform gives you a male protagonist by default, but that’s not a new assumption in the history of IF, gaming, entertainment, or literature, all of which have influenced designers long before they ever read the first line of documentation.

I do find that if I write while coding, my sentences tend to be much more declarative - similar in structure to the ones I’m writing in Inform. I’m not sure how much of that is the language, though, and how much of it is trying to do two things at once. I don’t really think in Inform, though (as is evident by the amount of time I spend rewriting code chunks), so I’m not sure anyone but very very advanced coders might run into the kind of thing Sapir-Whorf refers to. Inform may be more influenced by the structure of English than games are by being written in Inform. (What that influence looks like I have no idea, but especially since it’s a natural language, I’m sure there’s some assumptions that Inform takes on from its mother tongue.)