98-228 Interactive Fiction

Instructor: Chris Martens

Interactive fiction (IF), broadly comprising text-based games and works of writing with digital or choice-based components, became popular in the late '70s with the rise of personal computers, and have re-emerged in the web era as an accessible means of creation with low overhead in terms of authoring and distribution.

This course will investigate interactive fiction with a three-prong "play, critique, create" syllabus. We will play several short games through the past several decades of the medium's life, including both hypertext (link-based) and parser (typed-command-based) games; we will read contemporary critiques and learn to do our own criticism through writing and discussion; we will create games with Twine and Inform 7. Students will lean on and develop skills in creative writing, narrative theory, game design, and programming.

Course Goals

  • Familiarity with contemporary IF works, criticism, and thought
  • Literacy in the range of expressive power available through interactive text
  • Critical literacy of interactive texts
  • Ability to express yourself through the creation of small interactive texts


  • History of IF
  • Skill at puzzle-solving


  • All work submitted should be your own, except for the explicitly collaborative assignments.
  • For assigned work that is playing through games, you may use walkthroughs or hints from friends/classmates, or ask the instructor for hints/spoilers if you cannot find these resources. It is not an educational goal for you to get better at solving IF puzzles, but rather to fully experience each game.
  • Per StuCo policy, attendance is mandatory. You may miss a maximum of one lecture, barring special circumstances (for which you must contact the instructor).
  • To pass the class, all Assignments must be completed.
  • Late assignments are accepted. However, it is expected that all readings/playing through source material will be completed before the class discussion, and all games projects or presentations must be completed before the play, critique, or presentation day.

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