Therapy/Psychology In Interactive Fiction

When I saw how Façade was played in class, I really got an idea of what interactive fiction could be. As a psychology major, I later thought that perhaps this type of play could be used in therapy in younger children when it is hard for the child to verbalize his/her feelings. For instance, let’s say Travis (the child) went to the school psychologist because he was acting up in class. Let’s also say that Travis was acting up to get attention in class because his parents were always fighting at home and he wasn’t getting enough of the attention he needed there. Perhaps Travis could play a game where he made up a world (Montfort calls it a “world model” where play can exist p 313) realistic to his setup at home. Like Wii characters (like what we talked about in class), he could pick out what his family and he looked like, create what his house looked like, etc. Then the therapist would create a setting and perhaps a problem (like in a novel) for Travis to deal with as realistically as possible. For instance, the setting is dinner at the dining table and the problem is that his parents are fighting and ignoring him. Travis would then come up with the text for each character along with the actions (for instance, maybe he would just stand up and leave the room while his parents continued to fight). Instead of the therapist asking what may seem to Travis daunting questions that he could not figure out how to verbalize to share his feelings, he has just played a game (or produced a story??) which was probably more enjoyable. Also, the therapist was able to limit and watch this interactive fiction and came out of it changed with more knowledge of Travis’s situation. From there, the school psychologist could figure out where to go next.

This pertains a lot to Nick Montfort’s “Interactive Fiction as ‘Story,’ ‘Game,’ Storygame,’ ‘Novel,’ ‘World’ ‘Literature,’ ‘Puzzle,’ ‘Problem,’ Riddle,’ and ‘Machine’”  in the book First Person. Travis creates a story within a game, which is exactly what Montfort tells us Mary Ann Buckles defines a storygame as: the two are “embedded” within each other. Creating a world where a child’s play could exist is something Montfort emphasizes as a very important part of interactive fiction. Just as in literature and novels, dialogue is created by Travis (in this case the author). Also, interactive fiction is “tied” closely to written prose, as in a novel or literature. But in order for Travis to create any dialogue, Travis is given a puzzle/riddle/problem as well, for the interactive fiction game. Montfort says that puzzles and problems are basically the same thing, and a riddle is “the connection to a puzzle or problem to issues in the world” (p 315), not necessarily just the interactive fiction world, but the world that we live in.  “Machine” is involved as well because, as Montfort says, Travis’s interactive fiction “is a program, parsing input and generating output based on rules [that the school psychologist would have given Travis as the situation]” (315)

My only problem with my psychological interactive fiction is I am not quite sure how ritual fits into this (there could be a number of ways in which I have not mapped out yet), and I do not know how religion has anything at all to do with this. But I thought it was an interesting way to tie interactive fiction to the real world, and seeing how someone could come out transformed/changed after a game/games of interactive fiction (which we talked about in class).

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