Titles for Introducing Students to Parser-Based IF

Hi, All,

I hope that this post finds you well.

What are some of the best stories for introducing parser-based IF to relatively young readers, those who are ten years old, or thereabouts? Of course, there are many good choices that have been around for a long time, such as “Six,” “Snack Time” and "Lost Pig.’

However, I’ve found two relatively recent titles that seem to work particularly well. These are stories by the same author, Mathbrush, and both were written as prizes for IF Comp contestants. The stories are “The Origin of Madame Time” and “The Magpie Takes the Train.”

Have others tried these stories with beginners? How well did they work?

Has anyone had success with other relatively recent stories for the very young?


You could take a look at the entries in the recent(ish) Text Adventure Literacy jam, intended to showcase games for younger players unfamiliar with the genre. They’re pitched at a slightly younger audience though.

Otherwise, the original Magpie story, “Alias ‘The Mapgpie’” is a hoot and I can imagine appealing to a literate 10 year old.

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My ten-year old really liked the Barry Basic game from that jam, but she has been used in the past as a playtester for my retro stuff (and has programmed her own adventure) so probably isn’t a “typical” modern-day ten-year old. :slight_smile:


…and my 8 year old has now begun to realise that text adventures are no longer at the cutting edge of video game technology. I could only maintain the illusion for so long.


I wouldn’t say that. Rather, the innovations cannot be discerned just by looking. They have to be experienced. Same thing with books, board games, or turn based RPG.

Because those fit within genres, they can be marketed relatively easy. However, there are books that don’t fit genres and fail. There are games that are brilliant but not recognized as such until years later. Why should IF be different?

The classic Wishbringer will delight them.


Hi, Christopher,

Thanks for your suggestion about the Text Adventure Literacy Jam. I’ve had a brief look, and I’ll be exploring further.


That’s true! Wishbringer works very well, though it may be somewhat longer than what works best for starting students, off.

Of course you’re right. But it’s hard to get kids to play parser-based IF (and sometimes to read at all) when so many flashy graphics-based games are there. Since I’ve been writing, I’ve had better luck interesting the children in my life with Inform 7 itself than with games-- perhaps because they can see what a cool tool it is.
I’ve been seeing a lot of what I think of as “crossover IF” made for touchscreen, with some graphics, and I’ve found it easier to get kids to play those, although they really just want to get back to Minecraft most of the time.


It depends how young you mean by “very young”. Let’s be honest, kids love graphics, so an illustrated text adventure is likely to be more popular with kids. Adventuron games are good for that and can be played in a browser, so no special set-up is required.

From the feedback I got, I found that The Witch’s Apprentice was very popular with kids around 8 to 10, but perhaps with adult supervision, as a couple of the puzzles are a bit hard. It’s easy to get into, has cute graphics, several funny responses and logical puzzles.


‘Wishbringer’: possibly my all-time favourite IF.
“Stop reading and deliver that envelope!”

There’s a saying, “radio has the best pictures”. Obviously, whoever came up with that wasn’t familiar with text adventures :smiley: