Most of us could probably recall they type of books we grew up with. Back in my time, Time Life encyclopedias were the norm, and Reader’s Digest was a staple in the household. But there’s an alternative literature in my childhood that only a few are aware of today. I’m talking about interactive fiction, classic text adventures run on a computer.

As the name suggests, interactive fiction (IF for short) is a type of literature in which you have a hand in developing the story.  It includes “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type books and similarly encompasses the gamebooks (e.g. Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, etc.) of the 80′s. But strictly speaking, interactive fiction is currently used to describe computer adventure games done mostly in text, placing emphasis on story development and puzzle-solving to engage the reader. It’s not really rare to see graphical interfaces for such games but the basic description stands.

It’s a teaching tool too.

One could easily see how this could benefit a child’s learning. For starters, playing interactive fiction complements traditional book reading, in a sense that both relies on developing a love for the written word. IF also helps develop the logical-thinking abilities of children through the puzzles and workarounds that one needs to fulfill to complete the games. We could also say that playing IF is an interesting alternative to the action games of this generation, a break from the current trend. Lastly, IF games can be played by the whole family; engaging literary puzzles where everyone could collaborate to finish.

More About Interactive Fiction…

If you’re interested to learn more about interactive fiction and the world of text adventures, Jess Koch has a great ‘Getting Started’ article for you to browse. You could also scoot on over to the Interactive Fiction Archive which houses lots of ready-made games for you to explore. Brass Lantern also has great IF beginner resources so be sure to bookmark their site.

**This is an updated post from a previous article in my other blog. Sorry for cheating a little but I was too sick to write today; I was planning to share about a good collection of research from 2010 about video games and psychology but I didn’t get to finish it. I’ll just write about it next week, okay?**