IF in College Education?

Mary Dooms, a middle school teacher in Illinois who has used interactive fiction in her teaching, recently asked me if I knew about any uses of IF in teaching in higher education. That’s a good question.

She had found Utah State’s Voices of Spoon River and Myth Mechanic. I know right off that Jeff Howard has taught The Crying of Lot 49 using IF, and that students read IF and create it as a digital literary practice in two of my classes, Interactive Narrative and The Word Made Digital.

I’ve certainly heard of many other uses of IF in education, and when I can, I’ll begin to collect and list those. Rather than wait, I thought I’d call for links from Post Position/Grand Text Auto readers, since I know there are many classroom deployments of IF that I’m not aware of. If they have well-packaged downloads like the Utah State projects, that’s particularly nice, but I imagine that other information about the classroom use of IF would also be helpful. Any ideas?

9 Replies to “IF in College Education?”

  1. Ah yes – I seem to remember these links being rounded up in the distant past. And I even linked to one of those pages…

    It’d be good to know about work using other systems, such as Inform 6 and TADS. I heard a presentation in New York a while ago about a MOO being used essentially as an IF system to simulate a physics lab, so there are other possibilities, too.

  2. Clara Fernandez here at MIT writes:

    Add my Writing for Games course to the list: we have gone through quite a few IF works, both old and contemporary. Inform is also one of the platforms of choice for the assignments in the course; although it is not obligatory, about half the students opted to create IF pieces in every individual assignment.

    The syllabus [available only within MIT]

  3. I also got a note from Steve Ersinghaus, who writes:

    we do an extensive project using Inform 7 in our New Media Perspectives course at Tunxis Community College.  Here’s a link to our recent calendar.

    Students take their finished IF project and rethink its structure and contents in Tinderbox.  It’s an interesting process and loaded with interesting teaching and learning issues.

    I feel silly for having forgetten the lists that Emily compiled, but I’m glad this post is resulting in a few more courses and projects to add to those.

  4. I just finished a course I titled “Participatory Cultures” that was an exploration of that idea through theory and crit as well as concrete production, with much greater emphasis on the latter.

    Because of the openness of some of the assignments, I ended up having two students create three IF short projects as submissions for assignments for which other students in the class submitted other media (digital stories, remix and mashup videos, and video essays).

    All three are posted on the course wiki, which is public:


    Author’s Statements (part of the assignments) are here:




    I’d (and I’m sure my students would also be) very interested to hear your thoughts.

  5. I have used interactive fiction to teach German language, reading, and culture to beginning university students. The game can be found here:


    With colleagues from Utah State University (Brett Shelton) and University of Northern Iowa (Brian McInnis), I conducted research on the efficacy of interactive fiction as an instructional platform. Interesting findings can be found here:


    Although recently I have been moving more into 3D, I still use IF as a springboard for German students at in an intermediate conversation course Elon University to help them understand that languages – and their sociocultural contexts – are essentially playful systems:


  6. We have some IF works analyzed and produced as final projects during a course: interactive narrations and hypertext theory in the undergraduate Digital Media & CMC program. One of them is: http://www.pabierowski.pl/pierwszyostatnikrok.html
    Some students decide also to produce IF as their B.A. projects like for instance Marcin Drews’ educational game about Wroclaw and Magritte artistic works prepared in Adventure Maker: http://project2.3it.pl/magritte/

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