Type-casting: Interactive Fiction Awards

Use 'working class poverty' on 'middle class conscience'

Edit – this isn’t the IF awards, but rather a specific one for short IF. Sorry for the confusion.

Interactive fiction – or text adventures to the 80s-raised layman – quietly continues to thrive in its own brainy corner of the internet. But where to start? Well, the annual Interactive Fiction Competition conveniently rounds up the best of the best for lazy people like me. The 2011 results are now in.

Taking the main gong this year is Taco Fiction by Ryan Veeder, which is an agreeably wry and downbeat tale of a feckless gunman attempting to rob a dirty fast food joint.

It’s silly, but sharply-written and smart at breaking the fourth wall without actually breaking the fourth wall. Hot on its heels is Six, which documents a a game of hide and seek at an Australian child’s birthday party, which is a simply lovely concept.

You can see the list of entrants (voted for by the IF community) here and play the majority of ’em in a browser here. Go on, give your graphics card a rest and your imagination a chance to flex its meta-muscle.

Via GameSetWatch.


  1. JamesPatton says:

    I’m in my final year of uni and I’m actually studying interactive fiction for my dissertation. Whenever I tell people they either go “Hell yeah!” or “Um, what?”

  2. danimalkingdom says:

    Played Taco Fiction. Had a Taco, got the cow mask, and then went home. Is there a way to actually ‘complete’ it?

    • Chris D says:

      Not sure how to answer without giving spoilers but it sounds like you’re missing a large chunk of the story. I’d poke around a bit more if I were you.

  3. asshibbitty says:

    Thanks for this. Text adventure games are kinda hard to keep track of, which is a shame. With more exposure, I think it could change what people expect from games. Lots of outlandish ideas have been realized in this genre already.

    • v21 says:

      Yeah, it’s maybe a shame that IF is it’s own little community. It’s a wonderful community, and wonderful things get made, and it’d be lovely if more of that diffused into mainstream games/indie games. But maybe having them be different communities keeps the ideas of both fresh/distinct. And it’s not hard to visit the IF community – they’re very accessible for tourists like myself.

  4. BooleanBob says:

    Weird, I was just thinking out of the blue yesterday about how much I loved Photopia, which I’d never have discovered if not for this site. And Galatea. And Aisle. So yes, More Of This Sort Of Thing is entirely welcome!

  5. Harlander says:

    I had a mess around with the Inform 7 text-adventure-programming thing. Pretty fascinating in the way that it’s almost but not quite natural language.

  6. Anym says:

    Minor nitpick: Rounding up the year’s best IF is actually not what the annual Interactive Fiction Competition does, you want the (also annual) Xyzzy Awards for that. The IFComp is just for works of IF what are relatively short (typically just under two hours in length), that were specifically written for the competition and that weren’t released publicly beforehand. And while a good portion of IF released each year is written specifically for it and while titles that do well in the competition usually also rank among the best of the year, not all of a year’s IF is eligible for it.

  7. Cheeetar says:

    Hmm. No matter how much I try, I can’t seem to get the ‘good’ ending for it. I’ve tried showing the cashier the documents, but it doesn’t work. Did anybody else have this problem- am I just typing things the wrong way, is there something I’ve forgotten to do?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Yeah, I had the same problem; I got the money, everything from the table in the office (‘take all’). I figured it was because I waved the gun in her face earlier, before immediately apologising. The world’s worst burglar, that’s me.

      Loved the game, though. The ‘bored bourgeoisie playing Satanist dress-up’ angle came across perfectly, and the writing managed to wring laughs out of some pretty unexpected moments.

  8. Maldomel says:

    I really want to get into one of those, but I find them pretty frustrating, since they don’t take most of what I type into account (not recognizing words, verbs…).

  9. Alistair says:

    Plus ca change Maldomel…

  10. xeon06 says:

    What’s the story from the screenshot?

    • Baf says:

      It’s a snippet from Taco Fiction. (And no, it doesn’t keep explicitly telling you what commands to type throughout the game. The fact that it does it in that scene is more like a device to let the player know that when everything goes wrong, it isn’t because you failed to execute the plan correctly.)

  11. dontnormally says:

    This is a very good choose-your-own-adventure / text adventure / interactive fiction engine:

    link to choiceofgames.com

  12. wodin says:

    The last text adventure I played was very limited. It was when RPS was off line.

    Violence isn’t the answer.

    Anyway I remember playing The Hobbit on my BBC B back in about 1983. Oh and Eric the Viking.

  13. maninahat says:

    I got pissed off because I couldn’t get out of a car. Not because I was locked in or anything, I just didn’t know how to convey to the game that I wanted to leave (“exit honda”, “go south”, “leave car” etc. don’t work).

    Probably a n00b mistake on my part.