on “cheating” in interactive fiction

When I say cheating I mean looking up solutions to puzzles. When I say cheating I mean it isn’t really cheating. Cheating implies that there are others to compete against, and by winning you are depriving others of a deserved win.

Let me be clear when I say that looking online for solutions for puzzles shouldn’t necessarily be your first option in playthrough, but it is a super convenient and cool way to make sure you aren’t missing anything. There’s loads of content and even easter eggs that I know I would miss if not for people more clever than me figuring out what to do. This way I feel like I have gotten all that I possibly can from a work. I know with a fair amount of certainty that I didn’t miss any fun things that are programed into the story. It doesn’t take away my ability to explore and I have found things in fictions like galatea and dreamhold that were not in the walkthrough. In most cases all that you get in a walkthrough like this is directions, and it is up to you to follow or not and to read what the author has given you. It is a choice to follow along with what has been preordained as the best route or to branch out on your own.

I cheat at all my video games though. I watch playthroughs on youtube and I always look up where the scariest bits are in a video game so that I won’t poo my pants on my couch. Maybe that makes me a spoil sport and maybe I’m not living up to the spirit of these games, but I think it’s amazing that I even have the opportunity to ruin the suspense.

  5 comments for “on “cheating” in interactive fiction

  1. Brianna H.
    February 11, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    While I agree with you that receiving help int he from of a walk-through or watching a play-through is not necessarily cheating when it comes to interactive fiction, it is cheating you as as the reader out of the experience of the story. I became frustrated with the story “Shade” when I first tried playing through it without help and I ended up looking up a walk-through about which choices to type in. While I was able to read through the story and find out what happened in a faster time than I would without help (and probably would have quit before getting to the interesting parts of the story), I felt like I spoiled myself out of the surprise and mystery of what happens next; for me looking up a walk-through for an IF story is no better than looking up the synopsis of a novel on Wikipedia.

  2. jamerive
    February 11, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    I honestly feel like it shouldn’t matter. If the reader puts forth an honest effort and actually needs the help, then by all means they should reach out for it. Walkthroughs are generally made by people who want to help others that want to enjoy something but are stuck for one reason or another. The ones that are made well will provide direction and help without throwing direct spoilers at you, so as to allow the player to get to whatever pivotal point they need to with as little friction as possible. It’s not robbing yourself of an experience in my position unless you go that extra step and read about what happens before you actually get there, instead of perhaps just figuring out what steps you needed to take to move on from where you were.

  3. jamerive
    February 11, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    edit: In my opinion*

  4. jturner2
    February 12, 2015 at 8:04 am

    For me, “cheating” (or looking for outside assistance) is something you only do when you’ve expended all options in regards to completing a task or game. In E-Lit text adventures and gaming, there are many sources of assistance through previous play-throughs and information that people share. I find that I don’t like to use that help unless I’ve expended all options, because I feel I garner a better sense of accomplishment when I complete something by myself. In regards to Galatea, Dreamworld, and Shade I can see why many would look for outside help. I know I did.

  5. José
    December 11, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Most interactive fiction games gameplay have horrid puzzles and flaws. Illogical, random, forget to grab this impossible to see neddle at the begginning of the game and you’re screwed, etc.

    Most of the time, you NEED a walkthrough to play if. That’s the sad state of if games.

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