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Why Do We Write?
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Interactive fiction -- which is to say text adventure games of the sort which were popular back before home computers were able to handle much in the way of graphics -- is one of the many things I've dabbled in over the years. The new InsideAdrift newsletter from Ken Franklin will give you a glimpse into one corner of the If-world. ( PDF Version.)

Most of it is pretty esoteric, if you don't play text adventures. However, prolific IF author David Whyld's article "Why Do We Write Interactive Fiction?" asks the sort of questions people involved in any creative activity ask. But in the case of If there's a problem most writers don't have to face. There's no longer any market for it. None. Anywhere. Commercial computer text adventure companies like Infocom died out with the eighties.

"Why do we write interactive fiction? When you think about it, it’s a pretty pointless exercise. The commercial aspect fell out of the market years ago, so no matter how good your game is, you're never going to see any financial comeback for your time and effort. If this was twenty years ago, when the interactive fiction – or text adventures as they were called back then – market was at its peak, you could in theory write a simple text adventure (and some were simple indeed) on your home computer and sell it. You might not make a fortune out of it but the possibility was always there that you would make something. Even if you didn’t make any profit at all, the idea that you had had a game published was probably reward enough for your efforts.

If you write fiction with an eye toward publication, you might ask if you'd continue to write in the event that there were no longer any markets. Or would the absence of any possibility of being "published" ruin the activity?

For my part, I'd clearly still write something. I've always been writing something. I've even written text adventures when I could've (and felt maybe I should've) been writing a story for publication. The reason is simple, as David puts it:

You write IF because you like writing it. All the [other considerations] should be a secondary concern because ... you're doing all this for no other comeback than the great feeling you get for having written a truly amazing game.

Which is probably the best way to approach the writing of anything. Too often I find myself writing, not for the joy of writing, or even to produce a story I think is amazing, but to try to get published someplace. Not only does my writing suffer, as I am beginning to realize, but my enjoyment of writing suffers, which probably hurts the quality since inspiration and enthusiasm go hand in hand.

Perhaps whatever we're writing, we should all write as if there's no market.

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