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Interactive Interiority

by Ron Newcomb on 05/24/09 11:05:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

It's easy to look at interactive fiction as the kid sister of videogames.  She's like videogames, but, less.  Less flash, less noise, less action. Quite probably less gameplay -- a cardinal sin.  That must be why all her companies failed.  She's an stop-gap on the way to greatness, a media subsumed by another, a Medea with no darlings left to murder.

Videogames is a young upstart flaunting his interactivity as he lays claim to maturity.   Elderly theater ignores him, middle-aged literature tuts at him, twenty-something film just smiles and tries to give him some pointers. But interactive fiction is dazzled by him, copies his mazes and puzzles, emulates his action and timing, impersonates his combative and attritional nature.  She lacks her own identity.

The death of the novel has been predicted many times, and it's never happened.  Only in prose fiction can we delve into the character's minds and see their thoughts, their feelings, their secrets. All other media can only imply this by what a character chooses to say or do. Interiority shows why characters react the way they do, and those reactions cause others to react, ad infinitum. Interiority illustrates the "think" of Chris Crawford's listen-think-speak feedback loop. Novels have an unbroken causal chain as surely as does any ragdoll physics engine, but the novel's chain weaves in and out of the minds of characters, in and out of the exterior world.   

Videogames and interactive fiction share interactivity.  Prose fiction and interactive fiction share interiority.  When Medea finishes playing with ragdolls and searches for a place of her own, interactive interiority is a good place to start.

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