The magic of words opens a whole new world of fun

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 6.22.07 PMEmily Short’s work is always worth seeking out and exploring; she’s been a visionary in the world of text-based games for years and her personal blog is a masterclass in both reading and writing interactive fiction. I’d recommend starting with her short game, made with Liza Daly, The First Draft of the Revolution, in which your choices about how you edit letters between a husband and wife drive how the story – a sort of Dangerous Liaisons with magic – unfolds.

For a brilliantly atmospheric experience, Failbetter Games’ Fallen London is a joy. Somehow Victorian London has been stolen and fallen into hell – you navigate its strange districts and stranger people by following “storylets”. Helpfully, Failbetter has made the platform for its games, StoryNexus, available for anyone to write on. Any young person interested in writing games should be trying their hand out at making a game on a free platform like this – it’s also worth exploring Twine, Choice of Games, and the Inform 7 text-adventure-programming language, all of which offer tools to stimulate creativity and imagination in writers.

Despite all this creative flowering, text-based games are still a niche product. But I am delighted to see the success of the around-the-world game 80 Days. I detect the influence of both Short and of Fallen London in its marvellous construction, but it’s a thing all of its own, a delightful, easy-to-navigate, constantly surprising piece of interactive fiction. —The Observer.