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January 19, 2021
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Preview: Decision Fiction

by Sande Chen on 08/30/19 10:22:00 am   Expert Blogs

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.


[This article originally appeared on Game Design Aspect under the topics of Branching Narrative, Gamification, and Virtual Goods.]

Now that the TV viewers have experienced interactive choices on NetFlix's "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch," start-up company Decision Fiction is hoping it's time for prose lovers to fall in love with choice-based stories.  The app will be available on iOS, Android, and messaging services.

Unlike other companies in the CYOA marketplace, Decision Fiction's focus is not on visual storytelling or even gamers, but on writers and readers. Writers don't have to write cinematics or learn scripting. They can submit in Twine or whatever is easiest for them. Meanwhile, readers have Avatars and are guided through the interactive fiction experience by gamification.  There will be Missions, similar to Achievements, that can unlock special badges. Artifacts, a type of power-up, can be bought, won, and used in-game. One example of an Artifact is the Reverse Motion Potion, which allows a reader to undo the last decision. Avatars can be dressed up with costumes, which can also be bought or earned in stories.

While gamification to an extent has been used before in reading communities such as Goodreads, Decision Fiction aims for more than just lists and reviews by the addition of these virtual goods.  This approach is unique among the reader-centric apps.  Even Galatea, which brands itself as "immersive fiction" or "addictive fiction," does not require virtual goods because its interaction consists of ARG-like character text messaging, sound effects, and visuals.

Decision Fiction considers itself an aggregator and distributor of interactive fiction gamebooks. It's a space not quite visual novel and not quite novel. Among its ambitions, Decision Fiction aims to be the one to create a new literary genre for mainstream readers.

To do so, Decision Fiction will include analytics so that writers can see what's working and what's not working for readers. This ecosystem of writers and readers is of utmost importance to the company.

This philosophy comes from a collaboration between an interactive fiction writer and technologists. Last month, I had the opportunity to speak with Sir Robinson and Tejas Bhatt about the genesis of Decision Fiction.  Bhatt had never heard about interactive fiction before meeting Robinson in an Internet chatroom, but was excited by the idea of building a platform that would solve this question: How can interactive fiction be monetized successfully?

Decision Fiction's route of gamifying interactive fiction and using virtual goods may be the answer.

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 15 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.,

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