A Look Down the Interactive Fiction Road

Lost Pig

Finally I’m back to talking about games. For the first week of May I decided to critique two modern text adventures and look at the interesting things they do.

Instead of jumping in to the next big thing or tackling my backlog of AAA titles, and boy I have a lot to get through on that front, I wanted to go off the beaten path. I wanted to look into the weird, the experimental, the lambasted and the old. I wanted to look at the stuff that doesn’t get critiqued. You have no idea how many times I’ve played some brilliant game only to search and find nothing written about it. This has happened with titles that are decades old. There are games, because of the sphere they occupy don’t get anything substantial or really any criticism at all.

I ended cutting this paragraph from the my post because it didn’t fit the tone and spoiled the flow of the intro, but it encapsulates my feeling on the subject:

Thinking on it I’m shocked Dear Esther, Thirty Flights of Loving and the rest of the First Person Walkers managed to garner so much attention. Though the first was a finalist in the IGF and a grant winner from the Indie Fund, while Thirty Flights of Loving rode on the coat tails of the Idle Thumbs Podcast kickstarter to notoriety. Without these built in meta narratives, would the games have achieved their success or attention?

I don’t mean to knock either game. I think very highly of them. Instead I want to point out how lopsided the critical circles are that we don’t give our attention or our effort into certain brands of gaming. I don’t expect the mainstream publications to dive in, they have a certain market and needs. But what is the amateur critic and blogger’s excuse.

I decided to focus a theme month on the areas often left untouched and games not given their fair due of critical appraisal. At first I was going to do some list post with a paragraph or two of thoughts on each item with a different area focused on each week. But that idea ended up being thrown out, because A. if I was going to give some attention to games that don’t get attention then I shouldn’t half ass it and B. I ended up having quite a bit to say anyway with just two of the games and my intro that I pushed the other two interactive fiction games to next week. Then on thinking on it some more, I think this is going to be Interactive Fiction Month and leave the other areas of gaming for another time.

So take a look at what is now part one of my miniature critical odyssey down the interactive fiction road.

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