This past week has been tough for a lot of people, both in the United States and the rest of the world. And in that light, I’ve been reflecting on the value of interactive fiction.

In times like these our brains need breaks. We need inspiration to carry on and fight for our ideals, and we need worlds to escape into when things become too much. I turn to games for this purpose. Interactive fiction in particular seems to fill my needs. Playing interactive fiction can immerse me in alternate worlds, distract me with devilish puzzles, and encourage me to develop empathy for people I wouldn’t normally consider. It inspires me to do better and work for change in my local, national, and global communities.

Writing interactive fiction has its place in these times as well. By creating a game of my own, I can express my experiences, values, and feelings, can bring players along in ways that linear stories can’t approach. Because of the low barriers to entry, interactive fiction can lift the voices of marginalized speakers and provide perspectives rarely featured in big-budget games.

Interactive fiction helps us express ourselves, connect to each other, gain empathy for others’ perspectives, and enjoy the world. And IFTF is the only nonprofit dedicated to helping maintain interactive fiction technology and to making it more accessible to all.

We need bread, yes — but we need roses too. For me, interactive fiction is a rose.

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