Page Created: 6/24/2014   Last Modified: 3/10/2016   Last Generated: 11/16/2023

Interactive Fiction, or IF, has emerged as a literary art in recent decades, but when I was young, it was in its early years, known as the "text adventure", custom-programmed text-parsers with puzzles, written within the limitations of the 8-bit hardware of that era.

Most modern videogames are visuospatial, but interactive fiction relies on words, symbolic representations of meaning.

In my opinion, it is the complement to the RogueLike. In a rogue-like game like Nethack, you see an icon from above and move it spatially, attacking and interacting with things.

In interactive fiction, the computer narrates the world to you.

"You are in a dimly lit cave. There is a troll here."


The more you study this art form and the systems that it uses, the more you realize that thinking and thought itself is very hierarchical, very fractal, just like the physical items and spatial relationships in the world.

Have you ever wondered why human beings build rooms? Why is it so necessary that we split our houses and institutions into segmented spaces? Even if you eliminate the practical reasons such as privacy, security, heating and cooling, etc, people still want rooms.

This is because rooms narrow the context or scope of the world into smaller contexts, similar to magnifying one part of a fractal.

In a room, you might ask a person, "Where is the remote control?" And they would fetch it or tell you. In a larger space, they would say "Which remote control?" since there were 3 of them and they didn't know which one you were referring to.

Our world is full of these kinds of man-made relationships, as they are external representations of our minds fractal hierarchy.

Interactive fiction is similar to a Wiki in form, but you have a feeling you are inside of it, not just perusing it.