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, they lead to Amazon, where you can check out what other people have said about a resource.

  • Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7, by Aaron Reed. It offers an extensive coverage of Inform 7 from a different angle than that in the built-in manual.
  • Gaming Hacks contains some Inform tips and code from Adam Cadre and Andrew Plotkin.
  • Writing for Video Game Genres: From FPS to RPG. Contains a whole chapter on writing for IF, by veteran author J. Robinson Wheeler. (I haven’t read it myself.)
  • The Inform Designer’s Manual, the comprehensive manual for Inform 6. More or less a requirement if you’re planning to write in Inform 6, though it is also available free in online form.
  • The Inform Beginner’s Guide, a gentle introduction for Inform 6 users.
  • 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.
  • Avatars of Story, an overview of many kinds of digital storytelling, including IF, hypertext, and others.
  • Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, a highly opinionated, sometimes infuriating, but still genuinely valuable approach to procedural storytelling. Crawford doesn’t have much time for conventional IF, and says so, but many of his dictates about what works for interactive stories are still worth thinking about.
  • 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.
  • Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter (related essay here). Not a book about IF at all, but it touches on ways that games can be emotionally effective, which by extension has some implications for interactive fiction.
  • A Theory of Fun For Game Design, not especially IF-focused at all, but interesting.