The Interactive Fiction Theory Reader

The IF Theory Reader is out! It’s a collection of essays about interactive fiction that run the gamut from theoretical discussions of the form to nuts-and-bolts advice for describing rooms and designing puzzles. You can download the PDF for free or buy a physical copy of the book for $15.

The IF Theory Reader began its life as the IF Theory Book some nine years ago. While the articles were written for the book back then, many have been updated and re-worked. Nick Montfort re-wrote his article “Toward a Theory of Interactive Fiction”; indeed, the first page of the article is now a footnote describing some of its history. Emily Short’s article on IF geography has been similarly overhauled, and I expanded my article on the history of short works of interactive fiction to encompass changes since its first draft in 2002.

The book begins with the classic article “Sins Against Mimesis”. When Roger Giner-Sorolla first posted it to one of the IF Usenet newsgroups, it sparked wide-ranging conversations about interactive fiction theory. Many of the articles in the book owe their existence, at least in part, to that post and the theoretical debates it touched off. If you’re interested in theory about IF and seeing how it’s been evolving since the late 1990s, The IF Theory Reader is a great compendium.