Speak Out With Your Geek Out: Interactive Fiction

The wonderful Alana Abbott invited me last weekend to post for Speak Out With Your Geek Out – to write about something that inspires me, something that I geek out over. A passion. This post is about interactive fiction (not so surprising for readers of this blog, I am sure :))

Let’s start off with a personal and biased definition – interactive fiction, for me, is fiction that integrates the fiction producer (writer, director, designer) and fiction consumer (reader, viewer, gamer) in a way that goes beyond the traditional model. By the traditional model I mean one where the fiction producer works tirelessly on his / her work, releases it to the world, and then fiction consumers passively consume said work.

To me, this model is boring: in it, the producers and the consumers are both silent and isolated. They never get to exchange ideas, or give feedback (except implicitly, through purchasing decisions). The little engines of conversation and creativity that fuel a lot of fiction never get started, because there is no space for readers and writers to talk to one another.

In contrast, interactive fiction provides just such a space. Fanfiction sites allow fans of books and movies to get together and expand upon their favorite works. Forum boards let readers speculate on what’s happening in the next book, or when the next game in a series is coming out and what changes it will bring to design and story. Role-playing games allow players to take up the mantle of their favorite characters and do things differently. Everything from writer panels at geeky conventions to viral marketing campaigns that give teasers for the next part in the story makes it a little easier for fiction consumers and fiction producers to talk to each other, to learn from each other and to affect each other – in other words, to interact.

I love interactive fiction. I love thinking about it and blogging my thoughts. I love doing it, such as when I write or run roleplaying games. My biggest geeky project right now involves designing a platform for that makes it easier for readers and writers to talk about books together. And since I am blessed to have great novelist friends like Max Gladstone, I’m constantly thinking about how to help them spread the word about their novels with the help of interactive fiction (I’d say more, but that project is Sooper Sekrit :)).

So, yeah. I am an interactive fiction geek. I hope this post has explained a little what it is and why it’s so interesting. I also encourage you to get out there and write, read, game, post, comment – make your voice heard, as reader or writer or both – and help make fiction a more truly interactive medium!

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