m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...


This page began as a blog post that I felt the need to update frequently because there’s just never been a good word for hyperfiction. Besides the definitions and sources mentioned below, there was also a software section that now has its own page. (The History of Choice Mapping is still in the blog.)

The biggest pitfall of interactive fiction is figuring out what to call it, because interactive fiction is a uselessly generic term. The many bad names for interactive fiction frequently imply that a work is a literary form when it’s really a computer game, or vice versa. What any particular term in the hyperfictionary says to you is often not what it said to the writers who slapped it on their work for want of anything better. So I made a little thesaurus with the help of the SF encyclopedia and many examples found in the wild:

Further afield you find visual novels, not to mention a different sort of CYOA that’s almost entirely unrelated to interactive fiction. It’s best not to go further afield.

Finding Hyperfiction

Dead-tree gamebooks, including CYOA, are thorougly catalogued at Demian’s Gamebook Web Page. Many such books are available from Amazon, but, there being no accepted term for the genre, there is no reliable way to search for them.

The Interactive Fiction Database covers a mix of IF and hyperfiction, making it hard to search for hypertext in particular as well as for stories that are available online (as opposed to for downloading). You can try searching by engine, e.g., system:ChoiceScript, or opening up the engine list under system:name on the search page and clicking on an engine you’re interested in—no matter how obscure.

You can shop for phone app gamebooks at Gamebook Adventures, Cubus Games, or Inkle, or buy a more serious work of hyperfiction at Eastgate. For some curation before buying, try Gamebook News for the latest, Adventure Gamers for reviews, or this list of the 15 best gamebook apps.

You can read online games at several community-oriented hyperfiction writing websites noted in my software list. These usually have some sort of curated category and/or ratings system, unless otherwise noted.

When people ask for a Twine story recommendation, I point them to You Will Select a Decision (Сделайте Свой Выбор), The great classic of Kyrgyz young adult interactive socialist literature.