Books and Other Resources

There are an increasing number of books that offer guidance on writing interactive fiction, on writing for games in general, and on the theory of interaction in ways that might be useful to an IF author. Where I have written a review, the links below lead to that review; otherwise, where possible they lead to Amazon, where you can check out what other people have said about a resource.

Broad Coverage

  • IF Theory Reader. Primarily focused on parser interactive fiction, this is a collection of IF articles prepared by the community. Available in electronic formats for free, or as a paperback for a print-on-demand price. It takes on a range of topics focusing on both theory and craft, and includes short histories of French and Italian interactive fiction as well as the evolution of English-language IF during roughly 1990-2005. A Kindle version is also available, though for a cost (which I think goes to the person who made said conversion).


  • Digital Antiquarian is a blog rather than a physical book (so far), but it contains many many well written, book-chapter-quality posts on the early history of interactive fiction, often with in-depth coverage of individual games and companies during the 80s, but not focused exclusively on Infocom (as many lesser histories often are). Let’s Tell A Story Together is earlier work by the same author and offers a more high-level view, but one that runs up closer to the present.
  • Twisty Little Passages is not a how-to guide to writing IF, but it contains a history of the medium and some theory about what makes IF work, which may be of interest to authors.

Theory and Interpretation

  • Interactive Digital Narrative: History, Theory, and Practice is an edited academic volume collecting input from researchers in digital storytelling, especially those who frequently come together at the ICIDS conference.
  • Videogames for Humans. Readings of a variety of Twine pieces by different authors, game critics and others. Includes a reading of Maddox Pratt’s Anhedonia by me.
  • Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media (dissertation by Jeremy Douglass). Features close readings of Shade, Aisle, Slouching Towards Bedlam, and others.
  • Avatars of Story, an overview of many kinds of digital storytelling, including IF, hypertext, and others.
  • Second Person, a wide-ranging and hugely interesting book about story in all sorts of games and new media constructs, including table-top board games, RPGs, video games, IF, ARGs, location-based game exhibits, and more. Must read for people interested in the theoretical underpinnings of interactive story, and how such stories can be valuable. (Disclaimer: I contributed a small thing to it. That’s not why I’m recommending it, though.)
  • First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. A somewhat more theoretical precursor to Second Person and perhaps offering less insight into craft. Nonetheless, First Person does contain some interesting material, including an article by Nick Montfort on approaches to interactive fiction.

Writing and Design


More Tangential

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