We can easily imagine what the author talks about when mentioning RPG’s (role playing games) but the author has another post about the books that were popular when we
were kids; these books that had many alternate paths to take depending on reader
choices. I loved those books, methodically taking different steps and
tracking their different endings.
Interactive fiction is everywhere. The levels of interaction is key. How much choice does a reader (reader? experiencer? user?) have over the course of the plot? Many video games kill off the character if the player makes the wrong choice, so that in itself isn’t much of an option.
Of course, it would take a supercomputer to have millions of options in one game. No interactive story could have as much anomaly as daily life. I would guess that the key to effective interactive fiction is to determine how much choice a reader needs to efficiently learn the lessons of the story.
For younger children who haven’t yet achieved Piaget’s Formal Reasoning stage, one or two choices per “page” or situation would be best. For older children or young adults, perhaps a personality-scale type multiple choice question would convey the almost endless amount of choices adults face daily.
So subject and age would be good guidelines for this.
Board game and toy makers would be interesting to consult on this. They have teams of psychologists well-versed in developmental theory and could lend invaluable applied science results. My Masters’ in Educational Psychology gives me an idea of where to start looking, but those professionals could take an interactive fiction designer to the heart of the matter.
I wish Writing Niche well and hope to see more posts on the progress of “visual novels” and interactive fiction.