A Book Itself Is a Little Machine: Emily Short’s Interactive Fiction

Words do some things much better than pixels and polys.

20131030-215644.jpgYou can shoot a dozen identical aliens in a first-person shooter and not feel annoyed; but if you read the same identical description of shooting aliens, you would probably feel bored and cheated. In a game of words, there is therefore a pressure either to be very concise, or to keep the story moving forward, to introduce new scenes and situations. This makes for different mechanics of play.

On the other hand, words *are* good at expressing intention. They’re good at conveying dialogue and nuance. They’re good at telling you quickly not only what the protagonist sees, but how he sees it. Five turns of an interactive fiction game can often contain more characterization for the viewpoint character and more clues about his society and cultural context than an hour of console gameplay. — Emily Short, in an interview by Illya Szilak.