Remember how the last five years have been a papier-mache Godzilla’s-worth of arts pages articles on how graphic novels aren’t just for kids anymore? Here’s what’s next.
Douglas Adams understood well how an idea could cross literary genres. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has had multiple incarnations – radio, book and eventually a film – but forgotten now is the interactive fiction game, written by Adams himself. In 1984, it sold 350,000 copies. And while Italo Calvino probably never touched a computer game, he is one of several writers to immerse the reader, not a character, in a world by writing in the second person.
Interactive fiction (IF) is probably the place where literature and games intersect most cleanly. Curses, by Graham Nelson, is a cerebral and whimsical epic that begins with the search for a lost map and spreads out through Eliot, Proust, and most of 20th-century literature. (Curses is huge, so newcomers to IF with an afternoon free could try the game Lost Pig, by Admiral Jota, in which you are a slow-witted caveman called Grunk on a quest for porcine reunion.)
Stories make games compelling, and interactive fiction is an old, old genre born in a time when computers were barely more functional than staplers.