It is pitch black, you are likely to download the entries in the 2011 Interactive Fiction Competition and vote for your favorite.

Established back in 1995 by text adventure creator and fan Kevin Wilson, the Interactive Fiction Competition showcases the best, and some might say, only, examples of short-form interactive fiction on the net. The rules are very simple, the entries must be text based, and they must be winnable in under two-hours-flat. Anybody may download the games and vote for their favorite, with the winner receiving a variety of donated goodies, ranging from cold hard cash and gift certificates to slightly more esoteric spoils, such as a one-year subscription to Juiced.GS, the only remaining print magazine for the ancient Apple ][ computer, and “Five hours of copy editing.” You can even donate prizes yourself.

For those of you who’ve never forced a fish into your ear canal or seen the inside of a Grue’s small intestine (and are therefore scratching your heads over the references I just made), the competition provides a simple explanation of what Interactive Fiction actually is:

“In interactive fiction you play the main character. You type commands which determine the actions of the character and the flow of the story.

Each piece of interactive fiction presents locations, items, characters and events. You move about, exploring and learning. As you do so, you will encounter puzzles which impede your progress. Part of the fun of interactive fiction is solving these puzzles. Some puzzles will require you to use items in unusual ways; some will require you to get other characters to do things for you.”

Most of the games can be played online, while some require a separate download. If you’ve ever complained about a lack of quality narrative in games, or if you’ve ever claimed that you “don’t care about graphics” then it’s time to put up or shut up. Get voting.

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