Ever miss Zork? Don’t know what Zork is? Well, back in my day… I won’t go there. Not everyone had the experience of playing Zork, maybe a few more have played tabletop roleplaying games, a few more than that have probably seen or heard of choose-your-own-adventure books and games. If you don’t think you have had any of those experiences before, I highly recommend checking out Playfic. If you have had those experiences, go check it out now, and enjoy the memories.
In their own words:
“Playfic is a platform for writing and playing interactive fiction. Interactive fiction (aka “text adventures”) is a genre of game that uses no graphics or sound, but instead, uses text to tell a story in an interactive world.”
I don’t know if it is the nostalgia or just the fun of being able to influence someone else’s world, but these little stories will pull you in and make you wish you had more time to explore. While playing these games is enjoyable, if you read carefully you saw that this site also allows you to write text adventures. To do either one, play or write, you have to create an account.
There is a generous help section that includes a tutorial for how to play, links to the programming language used to write the games, cheat sheets for new players, and a little background on the development of the site. There are tons of games to explore and play. Educational games like Mrs. Crabtree’s Geography Class, games based on popular TV shows (Dr. Who) or movies (Sherlock Holmes), and more traditional fantasy and science fiction games are all available for play. Many of the games have some type of introductory paragraph which includes information like the fact that some college students are creating and using these games for homework assignments (the game “Stranger in These Parts” counted for two classes!).
The programming language (Inform 7) is very approachable. It is so close to natural language that its limits can be hard to discern without scanning the source code of existing games or examples from the manual, but once you understand where the colons and semi-colons go, you’re off to a good start. I was able to put together the brief game pictured in about 20 minutes by reviewing source code from other games I had played. This site could be used in so many ways and all of them would be fun learning experiences.
This is a guest post by Chris Bulin (@Arduanne), a graduate student assistant at the Taubman Health Sciences Library.