Why is IF not taken seriously?

I also would like to know if anyone here takes the medium very seriously or not. Here are some of my thoughts.

I believe in my potential to tell good stories, but I’m only interested in telling them in this format. People think this is just a phase that I’m going through, and that it will pass. I have a lot of ideas about how to evolve the medium, but so far I’ve only shared some of them with friends and family. People see this medium as something kiddy and not worthy of being taken seriously.

Do you suppose this assumption is correct? I’ve tried writing my stories down as novels, but it just doesn’t feel the same. I can’t explain what I like so much about this medium, but it’s the only means that seems to be inspiring to me. I’ve tried standard game design, and I didn’t relate to it at all. I related to writing prose much, much more, but I still felt a little different in the communities that I went to; that, and something about who I was writing to while I was writing static prose just felt a little odd to me. It was kind of like my audience felt a little out of place, like somebody writers in my medium generally don’t write for. I know this is a very vague impression, but it still feels kind of accurate.

Maybe this post is more about a sense of community than I originally thought it would, but I think the question still stands. Do you think IF is justly or unjustly seen as something juvenile? I know not very many good stories have been told in any interactive form of art, but I still believe the possibility is open. I just find this attitude towards my interest as just some kind of phase very disheartening, and it makes me kind of doubt the authenticity of my own emotions. I didn’t mean the post to get so psychological like this, but I really feel a need to be receptive towards what people in this community think about this issue. Is this medium fairly or unfairly treated so?

I feel very, very comfortable calling that a silly question.

“People” see every medium that way, depending on which “people” you mean. There are those who don’t take film seriously, those who don’t take graphic novels seriously, etc.

If you have work you need to make, you’ll make it. If you need help with the technical side, there’s a small army of skilled folks here who will assist with the craft. If you’re feeling discouraged by the attitudes of Group X or Group Y, just stop bothering with Group X or Group Y. If you’re feeling discouraged by yourself, well, work on that.

By whom? In what context?

You “know” that, do you?

It sounds like you have a lot of growing up to do.

Someone will always see any kind of game as childish and not take it seriously. But if you like something, does the opinion of someone else really matter that much? I spend half my time killing big pixel dragons and demons in online games but I don’t tend to worry whether people think it’s childish or not.

I think sometimes people forget that all media are forms of entertainment. Even Great Literature was written for entertainment. My wife likes to point this out, especially when people talk about reading books as if the mere act of reading was somehow virtuous. It really doesn’t matter whether you prefer Charlotte Brontë or Danielle Steel - the point is to entertain yourself!

Your wife is awesome. But you knew that already :slight_smile:

I think I received some good responses on this thread, but I need sometime to shake off my negative sentiments about some of the responses. I don’t know why I was so bothered by this earlier, but maybe it was because comments just piled up.

I understand that people here take the medium seriously, and I shouldn’t have assumed they didn’t. Perhaps just being by myself for so long just made me wonder pessimistically. I also understand that there are people here willing to assist me with my projects if I need any help, so I have no reason to despair about not being able to meet my vision. I’ll try to be more open about my problems with game design on this forum, because I’m currently facing a lot of problems with my two projects, and have only tried tackling them by myself.

But I think the main reason I’ve been feeling so disheartened lately are due to matters of uncertainty, and perhaps I rubbed my doubts across the wrong way with this post. I think this was some very sound advice, but there still remain some matters about my writing that I haven’t resolved. I have yet to explore very many of IF’s capabilities, and a very nagging part of my mind left me wondering if trying to tell my stories in this medium was just a waste of time. Some people in my family think it is, though not to any drastic extent.

I’m sorry I’ve been very vague with some of my descriptions, it’s just that I don’t feel comfortable pointing anybody I’m close to out. I tried to be less vague with my concerns in this response. Maybe I should try practicing ignoring these doubts some more, and being more open with my technical problems and ideas with this community. Maybe that way I’ll feel less intimidated by my projects. I don’t completely know what I should do and shouldn’t do, due to my lack of experience. I only have some instinctual impressions.

I think Ghalev hit the nail on the head… over and over and over.

It boils down to why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you’re looking to make a million dollars, IF probably isn’t the medium for it. (Not that it couldn’t happen.) If you’re looking to win the adoration and respect of the world, this might be the right medium for it. (Not likely.) If you’re looking to create something in a medium that makes you happy because you feel you have a story that needs to be told, and IF fits that requirement, you’re on the right track.

I guess it boils down to why you’re doing what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for. My insanely massive and overly ambitious WIP is something that I’m working on because I enjoy the medium. I don’t care if Andrew Reed hates it. (Okay, maybe a little.) I don’t care if my mom loves it. (She can’t read anyway. (Just kidding.)) I don’t care if all my friends are out playing the new “Elder Scrolls of Duty: Modern FIFA”.

I’m writing it because I enjoy writing it, even if it may very well never see the light of day. (And it probably won’t, because I’m in WAY over my head. :wink: )

He does that. :laughing:

Before I started my WIP I had a different idea. I was worried that it was too vague and ambitious and might just end up as a big rant anyway. I had some stuff going on in my head that I wanted to make other people suffer… er, share and enjoy, and while I was working out how to put it all in this big conspiracy-theory plot involving sentient fungus from space, it would be a lot more feasible just to write a snappy little piece of vitriol about zombies. I sure hope that somebody likes it, but mainly I just want to take all this baggage and unload it somewhere outside my head.

Exactly. It’s about personal preference.

Take someone like James Patterson. He doesn’t care what gets written, as long as somone pays $19.95 for it, his name is on the cover and no one asks too many questions.

Then take something like “Why Did I Ever” by Mary Robison. Phenomenal and hilarious book. But written for completely different reasons.

Patterson is a complete fraud with no real story to tell himself, but he makes money doing what he does (and paying other people to write his stuff for him [reference needed]). Robison tells a “story” because she has to get it on paper for her.

Like I said, it all boils down to why you’re in it.

Thanks for the advice, I4L. I think I can understand where Ghalev was coming from more clearly. I’ll stick to writing IF, because that’s what I truly enjoy. My stories matter most to me when they’re written in this format, but it’s just felt frustrating to me knowing some people that I’m close to don’t seem to take this seriously.

Well, the folks around you not quite “getting it” is at least a time-honored artistic theme, so if nothing else you can buy the sackcloth right off the rack.

You’ll find lots of allies around here, though. Even subtle fellows like myself, defined mainly by our subtlety. And grace.

Because while any given one of us may not understand your specific passion, we certainly understand the general one and feel it should be encouraged :slight_smile:

For what it’s worth, IF gets more respect out there in the world than you may realize. It’s on college curricula in new media, English, and computing departments; it’s a source of interest and inspiration to many game designers working on AAA videogame products; and it’s played by many, many more people than ever feel inclined to post on the IF community forums. For several of us, hobbyist work in IF has laid the ground for paid work in interactive narrative and gaming in one form or another. (Zarf, me, Jon Ingold; probably others.)

Not everyone gets that. Last Thanksgiving I was seated next to an older friend of my parents who went on a diatribe about her withering contempt for all computer/video games and more broadly for any form of personal connection made on the internet. And I kept my mouth shut about the fact that those things have made my life awesome – they’ve brought me work full of creativity and variety; dear friends in several corners of the world; sweet travel opportunities; and love. She didn’t know what she was talking about, but she’d also lost her husband to a heartbreaking medical surprise two weeks previously and I wasn’t going to make a scene with her. So I went away and washed some dishes and was thankful by myself in the kitchen.

Sometimes people in your life don’t understand something or don’t respect it. That’s not a measure of the worth of that thing. You decide for yourself what you value and what works for you. But if it helps to know that there are people who do think that IF is intrinsically worthwhile, there are. And not all of them are the people you see here.

Of all the unjust dismissals I’d expect to hear leveled at IF, “it’s for kids” is not one of them, since kids who grew up playing IF are now in their thirties. Compared against other types of computer games, it’s literary, slow-paced, and requires critical thinking (remember Douglas Adams comparing point-and-click games to “grunting and banging rocks together?”), all points in it’s favor as an “adult” medium, you’d think.

Yes. Some of us take it extremely seriously. It has gripped us with fierce talons and has not remanded for many years.

Two responses here: 1) they are ignorant (so do not bother with their uninformed opinions) 2) I can’t really blame them. If they have actually been out to ifdb.tads.org and looked around, they might well conclude IF is not a serious enterprise, because of the number of garbage games released (Speed IF/joke/test), the number of games hobbled and never fixed, the number of pornographic wastes of time, and the entire politically-correct malady that dumps on anything that doesn’t fit a certain perspective.

Unfortunately, IF doesn’t have a community in any way, shape, or form. What you’ll find is a group of people that have much love in correcting you, some interest in answering your technical questions, and nothing but scorn once you do things your own way. Expect intense opposition. Expect it to be lonely. I wish I could say it was otherwise, but it won’t be. You’ll find mountains of haters here, and few encouragers. (Personally, though, I salute you for asking the question and daring the responses.)

Now, is the medium fairly treated in the world at large? No, and that is because of ignorance of the medium, the number of garbage games, and the attitudes of the major players in IF. There is also a severe spirit of hate for anyone who attempts to sell their game, and the usual ghetto attitudes – once you do what others have not done, all those friendly voices start calling for your death.

However, with all that said, it sounds like you have understood what IF does and how it alone can do what you want to do. If it too has seized you, then you must create in this medium, and I welcome you to it.

Just to be clear, Poster’s experience of the community is not very typical. For example, during the six weeks of the recent IF Competition I spent a lot of time with my 30+ fellow competing authors in the Author’s forum (the only place where you’re allowed to post about your own and each other’s games during the competition). There was a great mix of new and established authors, and the atmosphere was excellent, supportive, encouraging. A fantastic community experience.

According to Poster’s claims (and in fact, according to my initial expectations) the community would have nothing to do with someone like me, because I design against the grain (and display little respect for many of the community’s design ideals) and (gasp) I sell my work. Yet, the community has been nothing but good to me and supportive of my efforts.

I’ve heard this story once or twice in various sermons:

[i]A young traveler arrived at the gates of a city and there he met a wise, old man. The traveler asked the old man what the people of the city were like, and the old man asked him “What are the people like where you come from?”

The traveler said, “They’re awful. Mean, selfish, and bigoted. They’ll beat you up and steal the clothes off your back. They’ll cheat you at every opportunity. That’s why I left. Is it any better here?”

The wise man replied, “I’m sorry to tell you this young man, but the people here are just like where you came from.”

The traveler went on into the city with a heavy heart.

Another traveler came along a while later and asked the old man the same question. The old man asked the new traveler about where he came from.

“Where I come from is a wonderful place. The people are kind and generous. They’ll invite you into their homes and treat you like royalty. They’re always eager to help. I was sorry to leave them behind.”

And the wise man replied, “Then rejoice, friend! The people here are just like where you came from.”[/i]

It amuses me that the rant on how the community mistreats newcomers was succeeded literally 10 minutes later by a post in another thread where the very same person tells a newcomer how much their proposed game idea sucks.

That is not entirely fair. Poster told that person not that his game idea sucks, but that it would get bad reviews, which I think was a realistic appraisal of the situation.

No one will make a living writing IF, and no matter how “successful” an IF wriiter you become, no one will devote their doctoral thesis to your work. The first applies to poetry as well, but the second doesn’t. Rectal photography and ufology come to mind.

In life you can either play it safe and become a dentist, or you can play blackjack with your future and become an artist. Both options require vastly different kinds of courage. The dentist must face the prospect of spending the entirety of his “career” staring into people’s mouths while chatting about the weather. The artist must face the possibility of failure. IF tends to attract the kind of people who have the courage for neither. IF attracts them because it’s kind of fun – as opposed to dentistry – and because it’s impossible to fail at it.

You like it because you fear the possiblity of failure so much, you’re prepared to accept the impossibility of success.

Judging by the quality of available works, IF is juvenile. If anyone thinks I’m wrong, prove me wrong. Show me mature IF.