Using familiar settings for a game (Star Wars, GoT)

Hi everybody.

My first post on here, and a question I’ve been pondering for some time.

How popular is “fan fiction” in IF? I’ve heard of Being Andrew Plotkin, but how about the Star Wars universe or A Song of Ice And Fire (Game of Thrones). Have those worlds never been used for anything? It could be Duran Duran (I know there’s fan fiction about various bands) or James Bond as well.

I’m posting it here to further ask, if there’s any thoughts on whether it would be a plus or minus entering a competition with such a game.

I guess the answer is, more or less, it depends on how well the adaptation is made. But maybe there’s some experience with this already.

The rules until recently prohibited these sorts of games in the main IF Comp, though people sometimes “filed off the serial numbers” to get around this (e.g. “The Meteor, the Stone, and a Long Glass of Sherbet” used the magic system and much of the setting from Enchanter, but all the names were changed. So scrying involved the spell azzev instead of vezza, the Great Underground Empire became the Old Underground Empire, et cetera.)

I can’t think of any Star Wars or ASoIaF games off the top of my head, but Harry Potter and Tolkien’s legendarium have been adapted several times.

To be clear, the IFComp rules have been changed to permit this.

Fanfic games have always existed; I remember one (small, bad) Star Wars game from about 1990. However, there have never been a lot of them.

Dog Star Adventure is the great granddaddy of Star Wars fanfic text adventures.

I remember one year a Paul Panks game was disqualified from the IFComp for containing unlicensed Smurfs.

Since you’re counting bands, there’s the results of the “Apollo 18 Tribute Album” mini-competition: … bute+Album

Thank you for your informed answers.

The subject of copyright infringement came up. If I were to use a Brothers Grimm fairytale as the basis for a game (including its title, The Brave Little Tailor), I take it that’s allowed? Seeing as there’s hardly any copyright on the story.

I hope the same goes for using maps from the 17th century for a game about a real life explorer (Carsten Niebuhr), which is another idea I’m toying with (for later).

The copyright status of fan fiction in general is rather murky, which is part of why IFComp disallowed it until recently. And authors have varying opinions; George R R Martin, for example, is quite vehemently opposed to it. But since most IF isn’t for profit, it tends to be seen informally as a “no harm, no foul” situation.

The work of the Brothers Grimm, however, along with maps from the 17th century, should be quite firmly in the public domain (in the US at least). So no worries at all there.

The IFComp site now has a more detailed discussion of what is allowed under US copyright law:
Further explanations from people who support fanfic: … nceptions/

I know the original question wasn’t about IFComp. But this may help in understanding the community standards in fanfic.

It remains true that some authors have opinions, which vary, and then fans vary in how much weight they put on those opinions. That’s not a question of law.

Thank you for those links.

I don’t know who the author of the transformative works article is (it just says admin), but that’s a very helpful piece of writing.

As for the original question it wasn’t directed at the IF Comp, but that would probably have been my next question [emote];-)[/emote]

Many people enjoy fan fiction. There are three Harry Potter-alikes that pop up on IFDB: Muggle Studies, The Quidditch Final of 1954, and Steph Cherrywell’s Whitefield Academy of Witchcraft—which is similar to Potterverse but is actually its own thing.

Daniel Stelzer’s amazing Scroll Thief could probably stand among Infocom’s own Enchanter series and hold up.

In my experience, fanfic is like junk mail: It will always be around, sometimes it can be amusing, often it’s just clutter except to the people who have interest in the specific subject. But that’s the thing—if you want to write it for your own and niche others’ enjoyment, that’s great (IF is pretty much niche to begin with). In a competition not geared to that fiction, you run the risk of alienating people who are not into that particular world, or who might have the blanket opinion that fan fiction is inferior to something original, and that an unofficial version of that starts at a negative. It’s rare, unless one is an experienced series writer, to actually come up with something transcendent that isn’t already attributed to the established world they are writing in. I’m no exception; I myself have written a Final Destination-esque screenplay that likely would be considered fanfic. I enjoyed doing it.

A lot of it also tends to fall into “Mary Sue” status, where the author is basically inserting an interloper character strangely similar to themselves into the story as wish-fulfillment. This is rarely an interesting narrative, except for unintentional comedy.

You might have the greatest and most epic Star Trek scenario conceivable. That’s great, but your potential audience is limited and you only have that specific venue to attempt to market it to if your eye lies that way. If you have a good enough idea, there’s almost always a way to make it work in an original universe with new characters. Then you own it outright and don’t have to tiptoe around copyrighted material.

I don’t agree with your arguments, but I think that getting into a “value and legitimacy of fanfic” argument would be off-track for the original question. (It’s an argument which has been hashed out many times before and will be hashed out many times again, at greater volume than this thread really needs.)