Towards a canon of “hypertext literature / interactive fiction / digital narrative”

Kim asked on Twitter:

“Is there a canon for digital narratives / interactive stories / hypertext literature yet? A list of accepted classics and forms?”

What followed was a lot of us going “we don’t know”. And I wasn’t exactly helpful, by pointing out that those three things are (in some ways) completely different.

But. Nobody got anywhere but not being helpful, and to do so, I’m going to express (a bit) of an opinion, and hopefully something a little absolute. I hate list posts, but let’s put something down for people to argue about.

So, specifically: if I had to draw up a Canon – a canon of the interactive-story-thingies (we all know what they are – “things that the reader/audience interpret differently by interacting” is my best explanation) what would I include?

The rough goals were: not necessarily the best, but important pillars; no bias to high- or low- brow; trying to cover all media appropriately; interpret the question as broadly as you would like; don’t take too long over it. Here’s where I am: 

See the list at Infovore

Off the top of my head, I’d add

  • ELIZA (Weizenbaum, 1966)
  • Colossal Cave Adventure (Crowther & Woods, 1977)
  • Cave of Time: Choose Your Own Adventure #1 (Packard, 1979)
  • Dragon’s Lair (Bluth et al., 1983)
  • Photopia (Cadre, 1998)