For the rest of this course, we’ll be exploring and creating interactive fiction starring some of the personalities you’ve created in the first half of the class. Last week, you were introduced to the concept of choice-based fiction and the idea of agency. The text from that lecture can be found in the Reading, Listening, Viewing section from last week if you want to refresh your memory.
There are two types of choice-based fiction:
Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA)
Interactive Fiction (IF)
The major difference between these two types is format, not concept.
A CYOA is an actual book. You start from the beginning, then make a choice that sends you to a specified book page. From there, you read another section and make another choice to continue. There are hundreds of possible branching story paths that you can select. Some end quickly. Others explore a much longer, richer story.
An IF is sometimes confused with a game. However, in a game, the goal is usually to “win” through making the right choices. An IF is a choice-based story that is more like an exploration leading to a story conclusion than a win/lose experience. Unlike a CYOA which is definitely in book form, an IF is a device-based experience (Web, cell or tablet). That means it provides a richer media experience, and can include some combination of images, video and sound as well as story choices.
Below are some Interactive Fiction (IF) examples for you to try this week to get a sense of how choice-based narrative is written, and the different story forms it can take. Note that because these are text-based, it is much easier to see the number and range of choices provided than in a game.
Never read a CYOA before? I’ve brought 6 selections into the lab. These are part of our personal collection, so please do not take them out. Read at least one book for at least 30 minutes, restarting at least once to follow a different set of choices. If you *have* read CYOAs before, instead, on the Discussion Board you can identify the name and author of at least one CYOA that you read previously and use it to answer the homework questions about CYOAs.
The stories here in the lab:
To Be or Not To Be by Ryan North (2 copies)
Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North
Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton
Infected by James Schannep
My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris
Please also try at least TWO of the following IF options, playing each for at least 10 minutes or until the end of the free demo. We’ve chosen a variety of story types and experiences, but all of these are fictional. Note that there are many other ways to use interactive narrative, including non-fiction explorations, “live someone else’s experience” simulations, and even movies that enable you to control what parts of the story you focus on or which characters you follow.
Depression Quest: http://www.depressionquest.com/
Cat Petting Simulator 2014: https://neongrey.itch.io/pet-that-cat
The Axolotl Project: http://www.samanthavickgames.com/axolotl/#3i
Who Are You Mr. Cooper: https://tlft.itch.io/who-are-you-mr-cooper
Seven Days in Purgatory: https://kypello.itch.io/seven-days-in-purgatory
Element Date: https://davidtmarchand.itch.io/element-date
Please document which CYOA and IFs you selected, and consider the following questions in the Discussion Board for this week:
1. Which of these styles did you like best? Worst? Why?
2. Are these worlds “believable” in the sense that they are internally consistent? If not, what would need to be changed for you to accept their premise? What would make them more compelling/interesting for you?
3. Based on our in-class lecture about agency and choice and the Goldilocks example, how do you feel about the types and ranges of choices in the CYOAs and IFs that you read/experienced?