The Theatre of the Text Adventure

John Alexander Espinosa


Video Games In/As Literature

Carolyn Jong

March 24, 2017

The big difference between a text adventure game, whether that be hyperlink, or interactive fiction, and a video game, is that the developers of the video game give you a visual representation of the games story, characters, and cut-scenes, while an interactive fiction or hyperlink text adventure calls for the use of the player/readers imagination. The writers and developers write out the adventure and it’s many branching paths and story plots, and leave it to the player/reader to piece together how it all looks and feels. Sometimes we see an innovation in this field and the story ‘becomes’ as we continue through it.

In the text adventure game Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, one can see how an interactive fiction can interact back towards the player/reader. Typing in certain phrases into the prompt may result in the narrator spouting back at the player/reader something sarcastic. For instance when we get hit in the head with a brick at the start of the story, and we try to continue typing the narrator commends us on being so chatty for a dead person, prompting the player/reader to either restart and continue typing in prompts to see where the story will continue towards. What is most interesting is when one makes a mistake, in the sense that the player/reader doesn’t reach the absolute end of the game, we are told how the story ends at that point. In this sense there are many endings to this text adventure, as every ‘fail state’ can be construed as an actual ending to the story. When one plays and uncovers Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, one is creating their own story and turn of events within that story as they see fit, but not only that, what each person experiences in the theatre of ones mind is completely different each other.

In the hyperlink text adventure game Buried the player/reader’s character wakes up in the forest looking up at the sky, giving us a visual representation of the forest using pictures, and atmosphere by way of music. They are prompted to either find their hard hat or head to the logging site to find the others after lines of text explain the main characters situation. What follows is a story that unfolds to the player as modern eldritch tale of hidden government research sites and inter-dimensional beings of incomprehensible shapes and light. Tension runs high as the player/reader makes choices that affect the story, and rearrange the plot, as well as the numerous endings of the hyperlink game. Although this game has visual and aural representation of the story, there is still enough room for the player/reader to fill in the gaps for the rest of the story, making it as heart pumping and tense for each player/reader who interacts with it. Especially when it comes to the description of the alien creatures, the bending and melting of things and people in the story, and the horror of it all that is always terrifying to the player/reader because horror that takes place in ones mind is based on the fears of that person, and is always terrifying because of that.

The Theatre of the Text Adventure

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