Text adventures, interactive fiction, point and click. They
aren’t dead yet, but they might as well be. There is a strong trend of
comparing new release to older games. Games that were made in the 80’s and 90’s.
Now what does that mean to someone like me? Someone who was born in ’95 and
didn’t have the agency to buy games until 2010…. Literally nothing.
The games that they compare the genre to might as well be
nonsense words. In fact, they are. I have no idea what those games are about
other than their Wikipedia pages. And I looked them up because I’m personally
invested in text adventures. In a time where everyone plays games it seems like
a giant waste. Text adventures can be more than nostalgia. And if we want the
genre to thrive, they are going to have to be. Nostalgia is a small fan base.
It’s only going to continue to get smaller.
I love text adventures, interactive fiction, and visual
novels. Interactive novels are like, the next great media for story-telling. So
why does it seem like everyone is looking to the past instead of the future? We
have some companies that do it right, notably Telltale and Dontnod in the west.
Their games are interesting and compelling story games that don’t confuse a
younger audience with something that they have never interacted with.
But! They aren’t anything like classic text adventures! And
the answer to that is… So? Who cares? Genres grow, change, and become better.
My phone is nothing like the CD player I had when I was 7, but they do
basically the same thing. My phone also does it better. There is nothing wrong
with wanting to make something for nostalgia. Nostalgia can make money. But it
won’t keep making money forever.
I firmly believe that interactive novels can compete heavily
in the AAA space. People have always loved stories, have always communicated
and educated with stories. Now is no different. I see no reason why the mom who
buys books from the grocery store wouldn’t love novel that she can play and be
apart of on her phone. Or why the average 20-something who loves SVU wouldn’t
want to play as a detective themselves. But they aren’t going to feel nostalgia
for what the genre was.
…And neither do I. The future of games holds so much more
than the past. I think innovation will ultimately trump nostalgia. As a champion
for interactive fiction, I don’t want it to be left in the dust.