Interactive fiction

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Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, describes software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as video games.[1] In common usage, the term refers to text adventures, a type of adventure game where the entire interface is "text-only".[2] It can also be used to distinguish the more modern style of such works, focusing on narrative and not necessarily falling into the adventure game genre at all, from the more traditional focus on puzzles. More expansive definitions of interactive fiction may refer to all adventure games, including wholly graphical adventures such as Myst.

As a commercial product, interactive fiction reached its peak in popularity from 1979-1986,[3] as a dominant software product marketed for home computers. Because their text-only nature sidestepped the problem of writing for the widely divergent graphics architectures of the day, interactive fiction games were easily ported across all the popular platforms, even those such as CP/M not known for gaming or strong graphics capabilities. Today, a steady stream of new works is produced by an online interactive fiction community, using freely available development systems. Most of these games can be downloaded for free from the Interactive Fiction Archive. In East Asia, interactive fiction is still commercially available in the form of visual novels, which account for nearly 70% of PC games released in Japan.[4]

The term "interactive fiction" is also occasionally used to refer to addventure games,[5] which are also called hypertext fiction, collaborative fiction, or even participatory novels, according to the New York Times.[6][7] It is also used to refer to literary works that are not read in a linear fashion, but rather the reader is given choices at different points in the text; the reader's choice determines the flow and outcome of the story. The most famous example of this form of interactive fiction is the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. For others, see gamebooks.


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