SLAMMED! is an interactive novel by Paolo Chikiamco, a creator of interactive fiction affiliated with Choice of Games. Weighing in at 250,000 words, SLAMMED! immediately stands out in the genre because of its subject matter: professional wrestling. I can’t recall reading any interactive fiction about professional wrestling before, so SLAMMED! was the logical choice when I was instructed to find and blog about something new and exciting in the realm of interactive fiction. The piece delves deep into the violent and complicated world that is professional wrestling, a medium that many can watch but few can successfully participate in and succeed at. The first thing about the work that impressed me was how it immersed the reader in that world and made them an active participant in it’s events. With a lot of interactive fiction that I’ve played, the reader doesn’t have a concrete identity; they often proceed through the story as someone that has been provided to them by the narrative or, in some cases, a nameless observer that only sees and does not directly act. SLAMMED!, thankfully, does not fit that mold. As the story begins, the reader decides exactly who they are and what they are like.
The reader gets to decide how their wrestler thinks, acts, and proceeds through the events of the story from the very beginning. Those events may differ depending on who the reader chooses to be and how that reader chooses to act. Responses to the reader’s wrestler from fellow wrestlers, production personnel, and audiences also changes depending on the reader’s actions throughout the story. This ensures an individualized experience for each reader, assuming two different readers don’t choose the same name and make all the same choices (highly unlikely). The overall experience of this work of interactive fiction is entrenched in the idea of a unique experience; I built an emotional connection to my wrestler because I named him and essentially made him who he was. The ability to choose, to decide who the wrestler is, how they act, and why they act that way gives SLAMMED! a twist that I have not seen a lot of other works of interactive fiction pull off. I’m not going to say that my wrestler was me, because I’m never really had those aspirations or the physical ability to pursue them if I did. The profound thing is that my wrestler in SLAMMED! is the wrestler that I would be if that was my life. I was allowed enough choice within the story to really define the wrestler and, within the frame of the narrative, essentially become the wrestler for however long I read through it.
SLAMMED! is something special, a work of interactive fiction that is linear enough to be coherent but free enough to make the reader feel as if their choices mattered. The reader’s choices don’t just matter, actually; they decide everything about the interactive fiction experience. The work is about the wrestler, and the wrestler is about the imagination; SLAMMED! delivers everything that is expected from interactive fiction and more. At the finish, SLAMMED! stands out in another way: it inspires the sort of imaginative immersion that all interactive fiction strives for but relatively few achieve.