If you’ve read much interactive fiction (what used to be called “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, way back in the day), you can sometimes get the feeling that they blur the lines between games and books, and this just makes sense.  After all, in games, you make decisions every so often that influence the outcome.  What most books have that games don’t is a plotline:  a series of events that ideally encompasses an emotional and often physical journey for the characters, in which at least one changes significantly by the end.

Conversely, what games have that most books don’t is a sense of dynamicism; i.e., they’re much more than just turning a page, because when you turn a page of a book, you don’t know what is coming next, but what’s coming next doesn’t change.  If you read it again, it will be the same as it was when you read it the first time.  And that’s why I enjoy and write interactive fiction:  it breaks that rule, by allowing itself to be different with each iteration.

Going to a deeper level, I have to confess here that my primary influence as an author of interactive fiction is a game that, similarly to above, breaks the rules of games:  Dungeons & Dragons.  A good D&D campaign has a story, as it is a game that’s centered around characters (the players each control one) that often exhibit multiple facets.  The DungeonMaster (a leader, in charge of running the world in which the campaign is set) often presents opportunities to not just hack & slash through monsters and gather loot (although some players like this aspect of the game best) but also roleplay, by encouraging (and sometimes forcing) social interaction with what are called NPC’s (non-player characters, a little like the supporting cast of a movie).

The Seal of Thomerion and its upcoming sequel, The Gate to Thomerion, are based directly upon my experiences as a DungeonMaster.  Have you ever tried the now-classic imagination-based Dungeons & Dragons, as an alternative to both standard books and run-of-the-mill tabletop games?  I suggest finding a group with which to play and trying it sometime, or at least letting go of any pre-conceived notions regarding it (D&D was, not that long ago in history, publicly vilified as a source and encourager of witchcraft, since it involves pretending to cast spells.)  In the process, you might surprise yourself, or even feel inspired, much like this author did.

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