Public – Philosophy and Interactive Fiction
During a project in 2008/09 at the University of Vienna, a group of people discussed Plato's Republic and tried to implement the results in a piece of interactive fiction written in the programming language Inform 7. Interactive fiction (IF) is software that allows the user to engage with the plot of a story. By means of Inform 7 – which is based on regular English sentences – it is quite simple to build up an imaginary world and express ideas on various levels. The participants working on the project contributed different sets of competences and possibilities. This fact introduced a new layer of complexity: the creation (the software) itself became an interactive process between the creators. Problems arose which are located on the at times conflicting levels of task sharing, philosophizing, narrating and programming. The project addresses questions regarding the potential of IF and collaboration from a range of different perspectives: Can philosophical ideas be expressed in IF? And is there an added value for the producers and/or for the players of the resulting game/work? Our experiences show which valuable results such a project may produce and which limitations it involves. Moreover, we outline some of our results with respect to the collaborative work done in the course of our project, which made extensive use of wiki software and version management. Thus, our experiment is a contribution to new media research that itself makes heavy use of new media.
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