Quarantine Time Killer: Interactive Fiction


Photograph courtesy of geek.com

Let us begin with the basic fact of our current situation: we’re bored. Outside of a certain section of the population – for whom the strife and struggle they bravely face cannot be understated – the first great pandemic of the new decade has proven to be incredibly boring. While we are stuck in our homes and our normal pastimes are denied to us, many of us find ourselves with time to fill and nothing to fill it with. To help ameliorate this issue, I propose one of my own favorite pastimes – interactive fiction. 

For those of you who’ve never heard of it, interactive fiction is the modern iteration of Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books, with branching narratives allowing the reader to direct the storyline. CYOA, though often used to refer to the genre as a whole, actually refers to a specific series of gamebooks from the 1980s and 1990s and aimed at 7 to 14-year-olds. Modern interactive fiction has a much broader audience, with many – if not most – stories aimed at adults and tackling mature content. An excellent example of a company specializing in modern interactive fiction is Choice of Games (CoG). 

While the text-only aspect might throw off some gamers, (and the game aspect might throw off some readers) there is a great deal to recommend interactive fiction in general and CoG in particular. This is going to sound like a commercial for CoG, but neither I nor The Journal have been paid or compensated in any way to say this.  

 First, CoG is incredibly LGBTQIA+ friendly, with all of their official games having male, female and nonbinary gender options and all romances having multiple love interests of various orientations. Second, the text-based nature allows interactive fiction to offer stories that you can’t find in any other medium. One of my personal favorites is Tower Behind the Moon which covers an archwizard in their final month before they (hopefully) ascend to godhood. Another story, Choice of Rebels: Uprising, lets you lead a rebellion against an unjust magocracy that uses a slave class for mass blood sacrifice rituals – with potential storylines exploring difficulties in trying to organize and feed a nascent insurgency. For the politically-minded, there is Congresswolf, wherein you take over as campaign manager for a candidate who may or may not have some issues with full moons. 

These games are cheap, running from $3 to $7 depending on the game. This is a fun way to kill time while sheltering-in-place and I cannot encourage everyone enough to give it a shot. 

Visit www.choiceofgames.com/ for further details.