Since we have been studying Interactive Fiction I thought it would be appropriate to take a closer look at yet another text based adventure before we wrap things up. I find that the aesthetics of these adventures are pleasing, probably because I’m partial to black and white things, but also because there is so much complexity behind such simplicity (seriously, don’t ever tell me again that your PS4 game is “hard to navigate”).
This particular story begins with a little background. That’s right, you’re not throw into the woods immediately with a white house and river to your right. You are instead given a little history, and an idea of the mission you are about to embark on. This adventure involves the whole Mario-Peach rescue mission, but without gold stars and mushroom assistants. You are given a little information about your character before you begin, and the creator even gives you a name, as well as your sword, Night — how neat!
A big portion of my time was spent trying to figure out the first move. My sword, Night, shot down many of my first attempts telling me we have to “get to the ship running before exploring”, as well as the game itself not really allowing me to do much. I finally got fed up and went to look for a walk through of the game to get things going.
The first command was “insert Night into slot”, which I found to be confusing because I was never told there was a slot. I decided to find out if there were small steps leading up to that one for the confused player like me. There were, in fact, a series of commands that would help you find the slot on the chair. The word “examine” was extremely helpful and elicited good responses, where as “look around console” and “look at chair” kept leading me to “you can see no such thing” even though it clearly told me there were those objects in the room with me.
As I continued through the game I came across the same frustrations with use of words, and it made me think a lot about how syntax and semantics come into play in these text adventures. In linguistics we learn how certain phrases and words are not clear or can mean many different things, and it seems these adventures want us to use the most clear and concise commands we can. Instead of “go through door” which, to me, implies opening and going through the door, the game required I say “open door” before “go through door”, something some of the other text based adventures we played did not require.
This brought about a few important questions for me, hopefully ones that can spark a discussion:
1. Is there, and should there be, an expectation held by the creator that the adventurer has a certain level of education or intelligence to play these games?
2. Does this expectation make these text adventures somewhat of an “exclusive” club? Say, if you can’t figure out the first move or action, are you excluded from the “club” and essentially filtered out?
3. To what extent should there be an expectation of either previous knowledge of text adventures, or an analysis of syntax and semantics for one to be able to participate in text based adventures?
Share your thoughts on the above and I’ll respond with my own. With such a wide range of experience in our classroom with these platforms, I’m interested to see the variety of answers and thoughts on this subject.