1) Academic/Professional Sources


This bibliography was published in the November 2002 issue of TEXT Technology.

25 Aug 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
This part of the Annotated IF Bibliography covers: 

§1.1: Articles, Books & Theses

Aarseth, Espen J. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. [link]
***** Aarseth articulates a comprehensive theory of interactive literature that applies across technological and generic boundaries. "A cybertext is a machine for the production of a variety of expression" (3). According to Aarseth, "ergodic" literature is that in which "nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text" (1). The book includes chapters on hypertext literature, interactive fiction, and MUDs. Aarseth's interactive fiction chapter includes a call for better IF scholarship and criticism: "The adventure game is an artistic genre of its own, a unique aesthetic field of possibilities, which must be judged on its own terms" (107).

Highlights from the introductory chapter:

In the chapter "Intrigue and Discourse in the Adventure Game," Aarseth opens with a brief history of the Internet, and offers Don Woods's description of his collaboration with Willie Crowther in the creation of "Colossal Cave Adventure." Aarseth agrees with Buckles's assessment of the "Adventure" phenomenon as a manifestation of Internet folk art. Anderson, Peter Bøgh and Berit Holmqvist. "Interactive Fiction: Artificial Intelligence as a Mode of Sign Production." AI and Society 4 (1990): 291-313. [link]
*1/2 The authors advocate artificial intelligence (AI) as a means of manipulating character behavior within the interactive space wherein the reader and program together create a story, much as a stage actor employs the script and fellow actors in order to generate a performance. Anderson and Holmqvist invoke hypertext theorists and the virtual reality analytics of Brenda Laurel, for the purpose of presenting a barroom scenario in which the reader/player interacts with several simulated characters with distinct agendas. A "good" couple (dressed in white) and a "bad" couple (dressed in black) interact via signified actions (hackneyed "film noir" motifs such as buying a drink or lighting a cigarette). Their work, from a project at the Institute of Information and Media Science, University of Aarhus (Denmark), bears much resemblance the "virtual theater" work of the Oz Project at Carnegie Mellon (see also §1.2: Bates; Mateas; Mateas and Stern).

[Note: The AI method of computer storytelling focuses on simulating everyday human behavior; but good stories generally require unusual events of some kind - or at least an artistic presentation of everyday events. Many IF practitioners (e.g. §3: Granade, "Artificial Intelligence in IF") argue that full-blown AI is a red herring. Nevertheless, the programming of believable supporting characters remains a technical and aesthetic challenge in command-line IF (see §3: Short).]

Buckles, Mary Ann. "Interactive Fiction: The Computer Storygame 'Adventure'." Ph.D. Thesis. U. Cal at San Diego, 1985. [link]
***** In a New Critical approach rarely seen in academic discussions of IF, Buckles de-emphasizes the role of the programmer/author, taking "Colossal Cave Adventure" (Crowther, c.1975; Crowther and Woods, 1976) as a "given," and examining instead the reader/player's efforts to make meaning out of the experience. As an immature medium, IF has not yet produced great literature: "I do not believe that the literary limitations of Adventure means that computer story games are of necessity a sub-literary genre, or that there is something about the computer medium itself which pre-destines interactive fiction always to be frivolous in nature. The development of film can be taken as an analogy." Campbell, P. Michael. "Interactive Fiction and Narrative Theory: Towards an Anti-Theory." New England Journal and Bread Loaf Quarterly 10 (1987): 76-84. [link]
** A reading of Robert Pinsky's "Mindwheel" (Synapse/Broderbund, 1984). Pinsky was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1997-2000. Campbell spends so much time describing the form of the "computerized novel") that he has little time to analyze the content. (See also §1.1: Packard.) Since "Mindwheel" is extremely difficult to find (except via morally ambiguous "abandon-ware" websites), this article (along with §1.1: Randall) is useful as a fossilized record of early cyberliterature.

Coleman, Douglas W. "Language Learning Through Computer Adventure Games" Simulation & Gaming 21 (1990): 433, 8p. Academic Search Elite full text database. 26 par. 30 May 2000. [link]
** Although the title suggests an emphasis on adventure games, of classic text-only titles the article briefly mentions only Zork. Nevertheless, "some of the games available for home computers are designed around problem-solving activities and require methodical planning, thinking, and note taking" (¶4). Of possible interest to IF scholars is Coleman's list of attributes that affect whether a player perceives a computer gaming session as "fun" - and thus, presumably, contributes to the player's determination to continue playing.

Constanzo, William V. "Reading Interactive Fiction: Implications of a New Literary Genre." Educational Technology 26 (1986): 31-5. [link]
**1/2 Most of the article is concerned with introducing the concept of IF to an unfamiliar audience, using transcripts from Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (Infocom, 1984, with Steve Meretzky), and James Paul's "Brimstone" (Synapse/Broderbund, 1985). Also features a brief description of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" (Spinnaker, 1984). (See also §1.1: Packard.)

Desilets, Brendan. "Interactive Fiction vs. the Pause that Distresses: How Computer-Based Literature Interrupts the Reading Process Without Stopping the Fun." Currents in Electronic Literacy 1 (1999). 19 Sep, 2000. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/currents/spr99/desilets.html. [link]
**** Writing mostly for an audience unfamiliar with IF, Desilets presents his experience using interactive fiction to teach literary concepts (plot, setting, point of view) to children ages 11 through 14. He reports that about 70% of the students preferred to study IF texts, in part because "it challenges them to recognize and solve problems in ways that no textbook seems to be able to match" (¶8). (See also §1.1: Packard.) Desilets, Brendan. "Reading, Thinking, and Interactive Fiction." English Journal 78 (1989): 75-77. [link]
** An embryonic version of his 1999 article, also describing scenes from "Planetfall" and "Wishbringer," and evaluates the problem-solving strategies of middle-school students playing IF in class. Perhaps most notable in this article is a brief passage addressing resistance from adults who dislike IF: "What's wrong with this picture? If you're one of the many adults who has tried interactive fiction and hated it, you think you may know. Actually, IF aversion is easily understandable, in that many of us get the worst possible advice [from students who present it as a kind of novel] as we get started with the genre. . . . And twenty cryptic error messages later, we've had enough of interactive fiction, because, in truth, even the most sophisticated IF program can deal with only a tiny portion of the kinds of English sentences that any speaker of the language uses" (77). Desilets' advice is simple: "all we need to do is read the clear and witty documentation that comes with each of the programs."

Dewey, Patrick R. "Interactive Fiction: A Checklist." American Libraries 17 (1986): 132-7. [link]
*** General introduction to the IF genre, written by a supportive librarian and amateur IF author. Includes capsule reviews of such titles as Ray Bradbury's "Farenheit 451" (Spinnaker, 1984), Michael Crichton's "Amazon" (Trillium, 1984), Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama" (Spinnaker, 1984), and Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (Infocom, 1984; with Steve Meretzky). Also, includes summaries of four IF authorship utilities.

Dunman, Susan K. "Judging the Book By a New Cover: Interactive Fiction." Media and Methods 23 (1987): 12-13+. [link]
**1/2 A reference librarian laments that computers placed in the middle of libraries tend to draw attention away from books. "The increasingly popular form of software known as 'interactive fiction' provides an opportunity to combine the power of the computer with the power of the written word" (12). . (See also §1.1: Packard.) Harris, Barbara and Bruce C. Appleby. "Interactive Fiction." English Journal 76 (1987): 91-2. [link]
** Brief introduction to IF, with belated reviews of "Mask of the Sun" (Ultrasoft, 1982) and "Deadline" (Infocom, 1982). IF "comes close to being a genre of fiction. . . . Is this literature? . . . That they need to be read with care and demand careful and logical responses makes them worth considering for your students" (91). (See also §1.1: Packard.)

Howell, Gordon and Jane Yellowlees Douglas. "The Evolution of Interactive Fiction." Computer Assisted Language Learning: An International Journal 2: (1990). 93-109. [link]
* Howell and Douglas make no reference to command-line IF, but rather discuss the canonical works of early hyperfiction (Joyce's "Afternoon"; Moulthrop's "Garden of Forking Paths") which Landow would later examine in his influential Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Nevertheless, this article begins with a useful analysis of Tristram Shandy, the experimental eighteenth-century novel which seems to have discovered postmodern narrative long before the twentieth century did.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism. New York and London: Routledge, 1988. [link]
** A very brief reference. Hutcheon, discussing the postmodern tradition of emphasizing the receiver's role in constructing a text, and who then offers interactive fiction as "the most extreme example I can think of" (77). Hutcheon quotes Niesz and Holland to claim that, in interactive fiction, "there is no fixed product or text, just the reader's activity as producer as well as receiver." (See §1.1: Aarseth, who calls this observation "clearly false; otherwise [IF texts] could hardly be discussed at all" [106], and observes that "Hutcheon's misrepresentation is understandable in light of the often self-contradictory Anthony Niesz and Norman N. Holland article she refers to." See also §1.1: Niesz and Norman.)

Kelley, Robert T. "A Maze of Twisty Little Passages, All Alike: Aesthetics and Teleology in Interactive Computer Fictional Environments." Science Fiction Studies 20 (1993): 52-68. [link]
**** The author treats IF in part as a launching point in order to examine the potential of virtual reality, but along the way he examines other issues as well. IF is not central to this paper, yet Kelley writes with a welcome awareness of earlier IF scholarship.

Lancy, David F. and Bernard L. Hayes. "Interactive Fiction and the Reluctant Reader." English Journal (November 1988): 42-45. [link]
*** "[I]nteractive fiction could offer students who are reluctant readers a new motivation and interest to use their reading ability for personal satisfaction" (42). While the authors feel that calling IF (by which they mean both text-only and text-with-graphics titles) a new literary form is "debatable... there is no doubt that these sophisticated, interactive games involve the reader in activities that many current reading theorists would emphasize as important and essential in developing reading comprehension strategies" (42). Among the IF works presented to fifth-grade students were Infocom titles "Zork," "Seastalker," and "Wishbringer"; Sierra versions of "Winnie-the-Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood" and "Ulysses and the Golden Fleece"; and Windham Classic versions of "Alice in Wonderland," "The Wizard of Oz," "Treasure Island," and "Swiss Family Robinson." The article focuses on the reading strategies of the children, rather than on any of the IF titles, although "Seastalker" is identified as an "electronic novel" that presupposes advanced reading skills. Laurel, Brenda. Computers as Theatre. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1993. [link]
**1/2 Computers as Theatre is a theoretical book, which offers stagecraft as a metaphor for the design of computer interfaces. Laurel does not address IF proper, except in passing, although her quantification of the three levels of interactivity (frequency of interactive opportunities, range of choices, and the degree to which any particular choice will truly affect the outcome) is extremely useful. Laurel used her research in theatre, education, and gender issues to found the software company devoted to creating non-violent computer games for girls. In 1999, that company, Purple Moon, rejected a $45 million takeover offer from Mattel. Laurel herself is now a respected computer interface authority, who in August 2000 joined the consulting firm of high-profile Internet usability guru Jakob Nielsen.In the chapter "Dramatic Foundations II: Orchestrating Actions," Laurel "deals with how plots - representational actions - are constructed so that they provide emotional and intellectual satisfaction, and how these dramatic principles can inform the design of human-computer activity" (68). Laurel, Brenda. "Towards the Design of a Computer-based Interactive Fantasy System." Ph.D. Dissertation. Ohio State University 1986. [link]
? (My repeated attempts to request this via inter-library loan have been fruitless.)

Layton, Kent. "Interactive Text Adventures." Media & Methods (1987): [page numbers illegible in my copy]. [link]
** Interactive fiction titles "may be one of the most underrated types of reading programs on the market." Describes branching prose fiction as "the less complete type of text adventure," and quotes a short transcript from "Zork" (Infocom, c. 1979). IF is "conversational in nature and definitively causes users to feel as though they are actively involved with the story." Offers a list of 15 "reading skills likely to be used" when students encounter IF. Advocates IF because students are excited about computers; they must read and express their own wishes textually; and because IF works well in small groups. "To the classroom teacher, the reading teacher, and the school library media specialist, interactive text adventures are much more than computer games. . . . More importantly, interactive text adventures help to foster a love for reading that may in turn foster a lifelong reading habit."

Lebling, David P., Marc S. Blank, Timothy A. Anderson. "Zork: A Computerized Fantasy Simulation Game." IEEE Computer 12:4 (1979): 51-59. 7 Jan, 2000. http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Infocom/Articles/ieee.html. [link]
****1/2 With this article, the creators of "Zork" announced their contribution to the IF genre. These programmers, who would go on to create Infocom (which marketed most of the classic 80s IF) thought of the new genre as a platform for a "fantasy simulation game," very closely tied to the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Soon thereafter, thanks in large part to the efficiently-programmed works of Scott Adams, IF would expand into other genres (mystery, science fiction, etc.).

Montfort, Nicholas A. "Cybertext Killed the Hypertext Star" Electronic Book Review 11 (2000). 8 Jan 2001. http://www.electronicbookreview.com/ebr11/11mon/index.html. [link]
***1/2 [Review of §1.1: Aarseth]. Observes that "hypertext. . . includes only a subset of electronic literary efforts" ("the hypertext murder case" ¶4) and approves of Aarseth's accomplishment: "to erase the stifling hypertext boundary, and to redraw that boundary so that it demarcates a more interesting territory of reader-influenced texts. The cybertext terrain includes computational literary artifacts that are in some cases novel, although yet to be thoroughly explored" ("the hypertext murder case" ¶2). (See also §1.2: Montfort, especially his close reading of "Deadline.")

Moulthrop, Stuart and Nancy Kaplan. "Something to Imagine: Literature, Composition, and Interactive Fiction." Computers and Composition 9.1 (1991): 7-23. 15 Dec 2000. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ccjrnl/Archives/v9/9_1_html/9_1_1_Moulthrop.html. [link]
* Moulthrop and Kaplan describe the experience of teaching "a first-year writing course on the literature of fantasy" that "enabled students to explore this mode of expression both as readers and writers of interactive fiction" (¶2). In a section titled "The Concept of Interactive Fiction," the authors write, "When writers make use of hypertext to produce fictional narrative, the result is interactive fiction, a form of writing which regularly calls upon the reader to respond in some way (e.g. by keying commands, highlighting a phrase with a pointing device, or touching a button on the screen)" (¶14). Hence, Moulthrop and Kaplan seem to define the term "interactive fiction" broadly enough to include command-line IF, and they do in fact quote from a transcript of Pinsky's "Mindwheel" (Synapse/Broderbund, 1984); yet their application is focused on hypertext. Because they cite (§1.1) Niesz and Holland's article as the "first critical appraisal of electronic fiction" (¶45), Moulthrop and Kaplan appear to be comparing apples and oranges when they argue "this new form of writing [hypertext] is neither as unimaginable as Niesz and Holland anticipated nor quite so likely to alienate anyone's literary affections" (¶46). Nevertheless, this article, written a few years before the advent of graphical browsers for the masses, ends with intriguing and salient questions about the possibility of interactive electronic narrative to provide professionals and amateurs with a sense of a reading and writing community.

Murray, Janet Horowitz. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free Press, 1997. [link]
**** Murray takes "interactive fiction" to include hypertext and other forms of interaction, and thus has little to say about parser-based IF; yet her observations about the nature of electronic narrative are indispensable. Regarding command-line IF, the bibliography cites only "Adventure," "Deadline," "Planetfall" and "Zork."

Newman, Judith M. "Online: Write Your Own Adventure." Language Arts 65 (1988): 329-234. [link]
* Describes the experiences of a fifth-graders using Story Tree (Scholastic) to write branching prose fiction, in the style of the "Choose Your Own Adventure Novel." No explicit references to command-line IF. While Newman is generally positive about the students' experiences, as well as her own, she ends with the following caution: "While software such as Story Tree can be wonderfully useful in the classroom we mustn't lose sight of what we're using it for - to enrich and support children's learning experiences" (234). (See §1.1: Packard.)

Niesz, Anthony J. and Norman N. Holland. "Interactive Fiction." Critical Inquiry 11 (1984): 110-129. [link]
***** In their near-evangelistic praise of the emerging genre, Niesz and Holland sound not unlike George Landow or Stuart Moulthrop in the early 90s, writing about hypertext narrative. So far as I can tell, this article is the first to consider seriously how literary criticism (particularly reader-response theory) might handle IF. As the authors themselves admit, "Writing about interactive fiction in 1984 is like writing about the movies in 1900 or television in 1945." When they speculate on what shape interactive fiction will take in 2004, they immediately latch upon "[n]ationwide computer networks now connected by telephone" (126), and refer to technological methods to enact T. S. Eliot's dictum that the best response to a poem is another poem. The authors conclude: "Microcomputers will change our ideas and our practice of literature as much as Gutenberg did, deeply refining the humanities in the process."

The authors make several other notable observations about IF:

  Packard, Edward B. "Interactive Fiction for Children: Boon or Bane?" School Library Journal 34 (1987): 40-1. [link]
**1/2 Of the librarians, teachers, and researchers who introduce their readers to the educational potential of interactive fiction in the late 80s (§1.1: Costanzo; Desilets 1989; Dewey; Dunman; Harris and Appleby; Lancy and Hayes; Layton; Newman; Sampson), Packard is notable for his caution. Referring not to command-line IF but rather to branching-plot novels (essentially bound paper hypertexts), Packard observes that it has been known to motivate poor readers, but notes that some professionals consider it "junk food for the brain" (40). He concludes that "[I]nteractive fiction is a useful literary device, which like so many other things, may serve - to a greater or lesser degree - either to close young minds or to enlighten them" (41).

Peterson, Dale. Genesis II: Creation and Recreation with Computers. Reston, Va: Prentice Hall, 1983. [link]
** Pages 187-195 describe "Adventure" (Crowther, c.1975; Crowther and Woods, 1976) and mainframe "Zork" (Anderson, Blank, Daniels and Lebling, 1978-1981). Offers a rare quotation from Crowther about the creation of "Adventure." Randall, Neill. "Determining Literariness in Interactive Fiction." Computers and the Humanities 22:3 (1988): 183-191. [link]
****1/2 Cites Wolfgang Iser's examination of Fielding's Joseph Andrews, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, and Joyce's Ulysses as examples of interactivity in literature. Randall refers to Steve Meretzky's "A Mind Forever Voyaging" (Infocom, 1985), Robert Pinsky's "Mindwheel" (Synapse/Broderbund, 1984); Bill Darrah's "Essex" (1985); James Paul's "Brimstone" (Synapse/Broderbund 1985); and Rod Smith's "Breakers" (Synapse/Broderbund 1986), which "all begin as traditional fiction, with roughly thirty printed pages serving as the first chapters of the story" (186), after which exposition the interactive portion is played out on computer. Sampson, Fay. "Interactive Fiction: An Experience of the 'Writers in Education' Scheme." Children's Literature in Education 18 (1987): 184-91. [link]
* An author of children's books reflects upon the energy she receives from reading her books to young schoolchildren, and notes that as children get older, and more indoctrinated by the idea that a writer is a special kind of person, their questions become less probing. Only the following passing reference to interactive fiction: Sloane, Sarah. "Interactive Fiction, Virtual Realities, and the Reading-Writing Relationship." Ph.D. dissertation. Ohio State University. 1991. [link]

Sloane studies interactive fiction because it provides her a convenient example with which to "contribute to our academy's working hypotheses about how language, legality, and subject in general relate," and sees it as "a tool with which to probe the composing models of social constructionists and cognitivists" and "a window into how texts constrain readers and even into how the world constraints interpretations."  Hence, the main thrust of her argument has little to say about interactive fiction per se, but rather supporting argument that "computer-based fictions. . . require researchers in Departments of English to reconfigure their critical theories and models of textual interpretation that are based on readings of paper texts" (2).

"It is the intent of this dissertation to examine reading and writing interactive fiction and to demonstrate how these electronic texts and a dimension to our critical understandings of the ethics of reading, the collaborations of composing, and rhetorical triangle, has traditionally conceived. In short, this dissertation intends to answer the following four questions: What is the experience of reading and writing interactive fiction? How is this experience different from traditional, paper based acts of reading and writing? What do interactive fiction and antecedent, virtual reality, tell us about the reading-writing relationship in general? And how must we adjust our rhetorical theories and models to account for this kind of electronic text?" (3-4).

This dissertation won The Hugh Burns Award for the best dissertation in Computers and Composition Studies.

Sloane's chapter on IF composition is weakened by the lack of availability (at that time) of published secondary material concerning the complex relationship between the programming and linguistic creative tasks undertaken by the author-programmer.  She turns instead to studies of the Oz Project and Interactive Fantasies -- electronic text projects that differ in important ways from the form and style of the classic text-adventure game.

Tosca, Susana Pajares. "Playing for the Plot. Blade Runner as Paradigm of the Electronic Adventure Game." dichtung digital Beiträge zur Ästhetik digitaler Literatur und Kunst (31 May 2000). 4 Jan 2000. http://www.dichtung-digital.de/2000/Tosca-31-Mai/index.html or http://www.dichtung-digital.de/2000/Tosca-31-Mai/Tosca-Bladerunner.rtf. [link]
*** Tosca examines the graphic computer game "Blade Runner" (Westwood, 1997) as an example of digital narrative, and offers insight as to reasons for its effectiveness. The game is set in the same world as the movie directed by Ridley Scott (Warner Bros., 1982; director's cut 1992), which is in turn based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Del Ray, 1968). Textual variations among several overlapping versions of the story already suggest a kind of multiform narrative, which Tosca touches on briefly. Although she makes only passing references to command-line IF, Tosca demonstrates a welcome understanding of the specific narrative strengths of text-based participatory fiction. The close reading of the "Blade Runner" game is a excellent blending of gaming and narrative theory, yielding much useful and valid insight.

Tosca is the editor of what is billed as the first Spanish digital literary magazine; she published this article in English, for a German periodical; perhaps this is why the final text seems to suffer from numerous translation errors, editorial lapses, or some combination. If the article breaks little new critical ground, it does present a competent application of existing theory to this relatively unexamined literary form. To contextualize the close reading of the game, Tosca regularly refers to the literary and narrative qualities of interactive games - yet her bibliography is heavy on cybertext theorists, and light on those literary postmodernists and structuralists to whom the cybertheorists themselves turn in order to orient their theoretical inquiries.

van der Linde, Gerhard. "Text without boundaries." Trans: Internet-Zeitscrhift für Kulturvissenchaften 9 (2000): n.p. 20 Dec 2000. http://www.inst.at/trans/9Nr/linde9.htm. [link]
*1/2 Refers to IF proper only in passing, within the context of a systematic classification of electronic texts. Unlike many humanities studies of electronic text, which seem to begin and end with the canonical literary hypertexts of Joyce and Moulthrop, van der Linde identifies a wide range of ways in which a particular text can be electronic. He identifies online versions of traditional texts, such as those published by Project Gutenberg, which "are read in basically the same way one reads traditional books" (§3), and which rely upon computers almost solely for distribution.

A second class of e-texts "are fully accessible only in electronic format" (§4), comprising multimedia CD-ROMs; the canonical literary hypertext; multimedia hyperfiction that uses the interactive capabilities of the Internet (chat, message boards, etc.) to extend the boundaries of the text; the "interactive novel" (what this bibliography terms "command-line IF"); a kind of role-playing hyperfiction in which "the reader-protagonist enters a virtual scenario in which he has to solve problems, overcome obstacles and so on" (§4.5) [this is presumably something like the literary equivalent of the "How to Host a Murder" party games, in which party guests are assigned roles and expected to improvise conversations with other party guests who have taken on other roles, although van der Linde does not offer that analogy]; and collaborative hyperfiction, in which authors collaborate in series or in parallel, in which readers influence the story either indirectly (by communicating their preferences, offering suggestions, etc.), or by writing additional branches of the story themselves (which completely eliminates the boundary between author and reader). The article concludes with a discussion of the "e-book" as structure, content, object, and mechanism.

Vander Ploeg, Scott D. and Kenneth Phillips. "Playing with Power: The Science of Magic in Interactive Fantasy." Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 9:2 (1998): 142-56. [link]
* Focuses exclusively on role-playing board games of the "Dungeons and Dragons" variety. The authors observe that, while some authors ignore or actively scorn role-playing games, such games have undeniably influenced the fantasy genre. This article is of some interest to IF because D&D heavily influenced the content and style of Crowther's original "Colossal Cave Adventure" (c.1975) as well as the Zork series (1978-81).

Ziegfeld, Richard. "Interactive Fiction: A New Literary Genre?" New Literary History 20:2 (1989): 341-372. [link]
**1/2 This theoretical, rather free-ranging article describe the tools of electronic publishing to an unfamiliar audience, discusses the "literary applications" of this technology (e.g. Faulkner could have included maps the Yoknapatawpha area; for The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco could have helped readers visualize the detail of the abbey, etc.). A third section assesses the contemporary state of interactive literature.

§1.2: Conference Papers, Project Reports and Student Papers

Bates, J. "The Nature of Character in Interactive Worlds and the Oz Project." Technical Report CMU-CS-92-200, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University. October 1992. Postscript file. 24 May 2001. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/project/oz/web/papers.html. [link]
*** A useful discrete example of the goals of Carnegie Mellon University's "Oz Project," an effort at using artificial intelligence to generate interactive stories. This article describes the programming of a simulated housecat, "Lyotard," whose behavior (purring, hissing, running away, etc.) is governed by a series of emotional variables (fear, happiness, gratitude, etc.). (See also §1.2: Garrand.)

Briceno, Hector, Wesley Chao, Andrew Glenn, Stanley Hu, Ashwin Krishnamurthy, and Bruce Tsuchida. "Down from the Top of Its Game: The Story of Infocom, Inc." [unpublished manuscript; MIT course project, "6.933J/STS.420J: The Structure of Engineering Revolutions"] 15 Dec 2000. 1 Feb 2001. http://mit.edu/6.933/www/Fall2000/infocom/. [link]
**** This student project, for a course in engineering entrepreneurship, examines the origins and economic history of Infocom (the company that popularized interactive fiction in the early 80s). The authors challenge the widely-held assumption that Infocom failed as a direct result of an unwise internal towards the development of business products. The authors describe the origins of "Zork," the culture of the Infocom workplace, and the role of the "implementors" or "IMPs", the programmer-authors whose creativity fueled the company's efforts. They also briefly analyze the game packaging and distribution methods that led to Infocom's early success. (See also the archived material on Infocom, available at http://www.ifarchive.org/indexes/if-archiveXinfocom.html.)

Mateas, M[ichael]. "An Oz-Centric Review of Interactive Drama and Believable Agents." Technical report CMU-CS-97-156. Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon University. 1997. 25 Jan, 2000. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/project/oz/web/papers/CMU-CS-97-156.html. [link]
*** "The Oz Project at CMU is developing technology and art to help artists create high quality interactive drama, based in part on AI technologies. This especially means building believable agents in dramatically interesting micro-worlds" (from the Oz Project Home Page). In order to emphasize its devotion to the simulation of characters and actions, rather than places and puzzles, the Oz project refers to "interactive drama." A "believable agent" is a computer-automated character capable of maintaining the interest of a human interactor. (See also §1.2: Bates.)

Mateas, Michael and Andrew Stern. "Towards Building a Fully-Realized Interactive Drama." Paper presented at Fourth International Digital Arts and Culture Conference (2001). 27 May 2001. http://www.stg.brown.edu/conferences/DAC/subs_in/Mateas.html. [link]
**1/2 The authors describe the criteria for "Façade," a work-in-progress, designed to be "an interactive story integrating an interdisciplinary set of artistic processes and artificial intelligence technologies" (§1). The ambitious plan attempts to move from character-based interactive stories, in which the user simply pokes at pre-defined characters to see how they react, to a computer-generated storyline that aims to produce a meaningful Aristotelian plot arc. "We are interested in interactive experiences that appeal to the adult, non-computer geek, movie-and-theater-going public" (§2). [Note: "Façade" is not designed to appeal either to the mass-market gaming public, or the elitist book-reading public; the authors argue that would-be IF authors should not abandon the cultural middle ground.] While "Façade" is conceptualized as a 3D graphical environment, the user will interact through typed text; one component of the plan is to "build an AI [artificial intelligence] that can understand a natural language and gestural input within the context of the story" (§1).

Meehan, James Richard "The Metanovel: Writing Stories by Computer." Ph.D. Dissertation, Yale University, 1976. [link]
*1/2 An analytical presentation of an artificial intelligence programming theory for generating short stories. The textual product is a far cry from fiction - the settings and characters are shallow, and the dialogue is stilted (Meehan regularly "translates" the output into good English in order to discuss the capabilities of the program). Further, the process of generating the text is only minimally interactive - the user may be prompted to decide what characters or props shall appear in the story (a bear, a bee, a boy, and a river, for example). While TALE-SPIN does pause to invite the user to answer multiple-choice questions that describe the relationship between the characters ("DOES WILMA CANARY FEEL DECEPTIVE TOWARDS SAM ADAMS? 1:A LOT 2: A LITTLE 3: NOT MUCH 4: NOT AT ALL" [21]), the program can be set to supply those details randomly. The program does not require input from a player in order to generate its narrative, and thus can hardly be said to be interactive.

Montfort, Nicholas A. "Computer Co-Authors for Fiction" Paper presented at Computers & Writing 2000. 08 Jan 2001. http://www.nickm.com/writing/cw2k.txt. [link]
** Brief comments presenting Montfort's IF work "Winchester's Nightmare" as an exercise in co-authorship with the reader.

Montfort, Nicholas A. "Interfacing with Computer Narratives: Literary Possibilities for Interactive Fiction." Unpublished B.A. Thesis, University of Texas at Austin. 1995. 06 Jan 2000 http://nickm.com/writing/bathesis/. [link]
****1/2 Montfort's thesis includes a preface that examines the history of the genre in terms of the literary value of computer-aided narrative. His analysis of plot and co-authorship are interesting and valid for both text- and graphic-based games. Writing when "virtual reality" was the buzzword de rigueur, and before the impact of the Internet on the rejuvenation of the classic IF genre was fully apparent, Montfort nevertheless offers a thoughtful and persuasive assessment of the future of interactive narrative. (See also §1.1: Montfort.)

Sharp, Doug. "Story vs. Game: The Battle of Interactive Fiction" Paper presented at the Computer Game Developer's Convention 1989. 31 May 2001. http://www.channelzilch.com/doug/battle.htm. [link]
** Author/programmer's discussion of the game "King of Chicago" (Cineware, 1986-88). A complex implementation of a multiple-choice narrative path, rather than a textual parser (and hence, only tangentially related to the subject of this bibliography). The article offers a detailed analysis of one programmer/author's focus on dialogue and action to tell a multiform story. (See also §2.1: Garrand.)

Dennis G. Jerz
02 Nov 2001 -- last modified
Dec 2006 -- minor HTML edits