In news sure to make a bunch of people very happy (and a larger bunch very confused), the 2011 Interactive Fiction Competition has kicked off. Kevin Wilson started the competition back in 1995, in the text adventure hey-day, and it’s somehow managed to survive until the present, carried aloft by a dedicated bunch of fans, who understand that there’s more to the genre than Zork.
Rules are simple, in case you were curious: The game must be winnable in less than two hours’ play, and all entries must be text-based.
Anybody can download and play the games, and you are encouraged to vote for your favourite. The game with the most votes wins a delightfully bizarre collection of prizes – a handful of cash, some gift certificates and a year’s subscription to Juiced.GS, a print magazine for the Apple ][ computer (no, that’s not a typo). Also exciting: Five hours of copy editing will be awarded to the victor. Nice.
…if you think they deserve something more, you can even donate your own prizes!
Meanwhile. Interactive Fiction isn’t exactly a thriving genre these days, so we’ll turn to the Competition itself to give us a little definition.
In interactive fiction you play the main character. You type commands which determine the actions of the character and the flow of the story.
Each piece of interactive fiction presents locations, items, characters and events. You move about, exploring and learning. As you do so, you will encounter puzzles which impede your progress. Part of the fun of interactive fiction is solving these puzzles. Some puzzles will require you to use items in unusual ways; some will require you to get other characters to do things for you.
Many of the games can be played online, while others require a (small) separate download. Want to take part? Head to IF Comp to set up an account and start downloading (and voting!).