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"SOMEWHERE NEARBY IS COLOSSAL CAVE, WHERE OTHERS HAVE FOUND FORTUNES IN TREASURE AND GOLD, THOUGH IT IS RUMORED THAT SOME WHO ENTER ARE NEVER SEEN AGAIN. MAGIC IS SAID TO WORK IN THE CAVE. I WILL BE YOUR EYES AND HANDS. DIRECT ME WITH ONE OR TWO WORD PHRASES"
Colossal Cave Adventure
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Interactive Fiction is a term originally introduced by the seminal Adventure Game company Infocom to describe its line of more "serious" long-form text adventures back in the Golden Era. Interactive fiction games are adventure games in which the interaction is almost entirely text-based. Early games, and games from purist companies like Infocom, were nothing more than bare text, but some later offerings added pictures, sound and limited mouse input (one game, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, even included plot-relevant scratch-and-sniff cards as Feelies) — but the primary form of interaction was still through descriptive text and typed commands. The genre began with the original adventure game, Colossal Cave, and really took off in the early 1980s, with offerings such as the Zork trilogy and later, more literary works, such as Trinity and A Mind Forever Voyaging.

The obvious reason why they were in text form is that was the only means of output available. Original Adventure was written in the programming language FORTRAN and was designed to run on the mainframe and minicomputers of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Graphics output wasn't possible because most places had no systems available for on-screen graphics. It was only when graphics capability became popular on PCs starting in the mid 1980s that the text adventure started to be replaced by various programs that used graphics capability.

Interactive Fiction was once the industry standard for long-form narratives now implemented in computer Role Playing Games, but fell out of commercial viability by the 1990s (largely replaced by the Point and Click Adventure). Shortly after the major players disappeared from the market, a lively amateur scene sprung up on the Internet, centred around the Interactive Fiction Archive (http://www.ifarchive.org ) and the UseNet newsgroups rec.arts.int-fiction and rec.games.int-fiction, thanks to the appearance of good-quality programming tools that have allowed recent amateur efforts to equal or exceed the quality of commercial games from the heyday of the genre. An annual contest sponsored by the community typically draws more than 20 entries per year, and the hobby continues to evolve and improve.

The Multi User Dungeon (MUD), the MUCK and the MUSH or Multi User Shared Hallucination are related games with very early origins, which emphasize the roleplaying aspect of user-generated online environments. The Adventure Game progressed directly from early text-based adventures, and is graphic-intensive but similarly story-oriented. This evolution kicked off by Interactive Fiction (also known as Text Adventure) is what eventually led to the MMORPG.

Arguably the most modern form of Interactive Fiction is the "Visual Novel" derived from Romance Games, but in general, these stories tend to be much less interactive than the classics were, since they don't have a Text Parser, or even much of an interface.

This is a "video" game genre. Contrast Choose Your Own Adventure, which may be the "tabletop / literary" version, or Interactive Comic, which extends this trope to Web Comics.

Tropes common to Interactive Fiction games include:

The IFWiki has its own page on IF Tropes.

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