Most people who had a computer in the 80's will fondly remember the old Infocom text-based games like Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. These games, presented entirely in text, forced the user to read descriptions and figure out how to solve elaborate puzzles such as obtaining the elusive Babel Fish. With the advent of advanced graphics and artificial intelligence, the whole “interactive fiction” genre of games has fallen off, but has not completely vanished from the landscape.
Every year since 2002 there has been an event called the Spring Thing where fans of the genre create their own interactive fiction games that are played and voted on for various prizes. The entrants use an interpreter called Gargoyle to create their stories and once they’re done are submitted to the general public to review and vote on. In addition to the Spring Thing, there is also a larger yearly competition called the IFComp. While the Spring Thing contest generally has less than ten entrants, the yearly IFComp event usually has a couple dozen games to challenge your puzzle solving skills.
There are currently six entrants into the Spring Thing competition, with settings ranging from baseball's Fred ‘Bonehead’ Merkle’s infamous day to your more typical fantasy adventure setting. People are encouraged to download and play all of the entries and vote on which should be the winner.
Although most gamers gravitate to games with flashy graphics and loud explosions, it’s nice to see that there are still games out there that rely on intelligence and wit instead of pure reflexes. Now how do I stop that Babel Fish from going down the floor drain?