Why isn’t Interactive Fiction more popular?

It’s too booky for some gamers, who just want to have fun and do things rather than read, which explains skipping to choices. And it’s too gamey for some bookers, who’d prefer to get lost in a story rather than be part of it or deal with stats, and to be fair, I think it’s harder to write a great story if it’s interactive.


Two other reasons…

a. Interactive Fiction has quite a few different terms and styles which confuses people, as well as ones like Choose Your Own Adventure which just about everyone uses to describe narrative focused IF but gets muddied because ChooseCo refuses to recognise that it’s a generally used term rather than simply describing the book series they barely update anymore.

b. A number of people don’t have the patience for strong narrative driven content in games anymore and seem to prefer umpteen versions of Battle Royale and endless micro transactions that don’t tax their little brains too much (but do their wallets).


There’s always Reigns: Game of Thrones…


For me, interactive fiction is a chance to recapture the nostalgia of reading a bunch of CYOAs that I checked out from the library. I just liked the “control” that was offered in those books in comparison to the standard novel. However, given that there are many more entertainment options available in the market, I fear interactive fiction has become niche.

As for the other conversation about skimming, if I buy a book, I will typically read it in excruciating detail (especially if I am testing). That said, if I have read the same section a few times, I will skip. Also, if the book is starting to “lose” me, and the choices are becoming predictable, then I will “fast forward” and hope the writer finishes strong. That will determine if I go back and reread the book or not.


I mean, it’s just the same as its initial game (swipe left and right just to ensure you live a long reign). The only benefit is you get say “I ruled as Jon Snow…and Sansa…and Arya…and Tyrion…and…” (You get the picture).

Though it’s somewhat less practical, I believe it isn’t as impractical as if you’d plan your series as IF since the beginning. Variations can be made on the “cause” of the “conflict,” which both are valid handle-points where authors can modify them a bit.

In the end, the writer gets to decide how branching their story will be.

Not proud about this but I actually do skim some texts in some games where I feel that the lore isn’t really interesting and the lore doesn’t affect the choices in any way.
Imagine talking to an npc just to get to the trade section in an rpg game

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I think one of the problems is that there’s no support system around them to make people take notice. It’s not a book, fitting into the book magazines. It’s not a computer game with graphics so it gets ignored my gamer sites. The sites that are focused, tends to be mostly about nostalgic text adventures from the early age of computing.

Most people never come across one, or see them mentioned in any form, so how would they know they existed? I grew up playing CYA books, but I never knew this existed until Choice of Robots blew up on my tumblr dash. Didn’t even occur to me to google it before then.

I don’t think I’m alone in my ignorance.


It’s funny when I think about how I came across COG and interactive fiction, seeing how a 11 year old boy from a obscure country just randomly going through his parent’s iPhone and typing in the word ‘choice’ on the App store and seeing Choice of Dragon, Vampires, etc… managed to discover it (with COG being at its infancy no less).

Whilst I acknowledge the difficulties of IF not being showcased, I’d also put it down as some people not being curious enough in searching for alternative medium, if not, opt to be content with what are seemingly available to them to play/read. After all, the fact I (more or less a gamer, irrespective of my residence) never knew about an indie game like Undertale till maybe 3-4 years after its release, despite it being popular, is proof to my claim.


I think that the problem is with all the books and comics I was reading, I never knew I needed this! I was satisfied with what I had, but didn’t know what I was missing.


I found it actively searching for if and games with choices. And about Not reading I could check that is one of most common thing in casuals. and another is pick a BEST WALKTHROUGH and copy after copy that list to get the best ending Nor replaying not reading anything else than romance and that ending.

I commented that already but in a videogame channel in Spanish I found a guy that supposedly Was a Paul Infinite saga fan. He didn’t know you could play as a denigrated soldier and being jailed. Or not having all medals or having other romance tan Katerina. Why he as Spanish and that just picked a guide Perfect playthrough and copy it. Losing ALL CONTENT.

When I explained all he has lost (90% game and absolutely an entire half of second volume) He said to me I was just so scared to find a bad results that i have never played anything different. Well I can affirm in my little experience that most people that said cog are SHORT and with few choices they don’t read content so they see same choices that their previous playthrough so game is same… Forgetting that the REAL content the text has significantly change.

It os like playing a game about graphics with eyes and ears blindfolded. I t has no sense.

Remember people in If Failure is an option. Enjoy the reading and the way to the end of game.


The one thing I’d ironically note ( I say this because I’m aware a lot of people prefer to download directly from websites or steam) is the emergence of smart phones and hence, the App Store and Google Play Store, along with I suppose any Web 2.0 applications actually, in my opinion, helped IF and other new mediums reach a mainstream and casual, if not, wider audience, so that is somewhat a benefit for everyone.


I love play they phone way to job or in hospital is really a great way of read and lost myself asmall-scale time in role-playing


I remember one of my friends saying Dragon saved his life, lol. We were like 14 and he had to wait on a mall bench for like 10 hours for his mom to pick him up. He played CotD the entire time to keep himself occupied.


I do this when I replay a game for different outcomes/achievments or to help with beta testing
There’s no point to read the same text again and it gets boring

As for why interactive fiction isn’t that popular: I’ve been reading some novels on the internet (not interactive ones) and I found that the protagonists there are generally more fleshed out and have a lot more story to them (while in here in some COGs the main character is just a blank slate and has no background)/
Also the romance there is a lot better usually. In some novels there is a gradual romance with many interactions between the leads and a lot of cute scenes, and you can see how the character’s feeling develop slowly and how they fall in love.

Here in a lot of games you just choose your RO (sometimes based on your relationship stat) and suddenly confess your feelings and become a couple very quickly.
In some games I’ve seen (for example psy high) that you and your RO were just friends all the way (with no indication of feelings whatsoever) and once you pick them you suddenly say you loved them and want to be with them (even though it was never mentioned before).

This is basically a trade off between choice and more depth.
You gain the ability to choose an RO instead of reading about a set one at the cost of the romance being a bit lacking.

There is also the issue of legnth where you have to write a lot of outcomes here and different routes which makes the average play through a lot shorter than the actual amount of content in the game.


You appear to be under the impression that a book is just a broken game. Billions of people read books. Books are very good. The modern novel is a very good invention. You can do amazing things with prose and language, and tell thousands of different styles and genres of story. Disrespecting books and readers isn’t going to win any new fans.


I may have a broader definition of IF, but as far as text-focused games go, it’s super popular at the moment! Fallen London is doing great after nearly a decade, 80 Days did fabulously well, Reigns Her Majesty did great, and on the more gamey end of the spectrum there are games like Sunless Skies, Heaven’s Vault and Cultist Simulator that involve a lot of reading that have all done very well. Visual novels are perennially popular, and mobile story games are everywhere. Season 1 of the Love Island mobile game, made in a variant of Twine, has reached 2 million people! Not to mention sub-Q magazine becoming an SFWA eligible market, Now Play This and the London Games Festival commissioning IF work, and the Nebulas recognising game writing for the first time this year. And there were three CoG games nominated for Nebulas! That suggests to me that there’s more mainstream recognition for interactive narrative than ever. Compared to how things were when CoG was starting out, interactive fiction is more widely understood and popular - just looking at some of the numbers in the Full Time Writing thread is eye opening.


Same here, but what I’m talking about (and I’m fairly certain Eiwynn was referring to this as well) is when players/readers do this for a game they’ve never read before.
It’s just odd to me and doesn’t really make sense. Especially because as far as I can tell, you can’t really gather the sense of a game and its world just by reading choices.

But I think this is getting a tad off topic so I’ll just leave my bewilderment here for all to see. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


One very cool thing about Interactive Fiction is how many mediums of media it can inhabit. I can have a copy of The Cave of Time, Detroit: Become Human, 80 Days, The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain and Bandersnatch and they’re all interactive but in very different ways.

One more annoying thing though is that the pretence of read interactive fiction being ‘just for kids’ still lingers at times. Searching for any decent ones on Amazon can be a hassle.