Climate fiction is going mainstream. A growing number of novels, movies, TV shows, and other works of fiction are referencing the climate crisis as a significant or even central part of the plot and setting. There’s a Climate Fiction Writers League, climate fiction writing contests like Imagine 2200, and groups like Good Energy working to improve the quantity and quality of climate fiction in print and digital media.
But what about interactive climate fiction?
Interactive fiction (IF) is broadly defined as any type of fiction where the audience is able to make choices or provide other input that affects the outcome of the story.
The most famous and popular example of IF in print is the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) book series. The most common generic name for all print books with audience choices is “gamebooks.” The folks who own the CYOA brand are very protective of their intellectual property, so I avoid using that name or acronym to describe any other type of interactive fiction.
Digital interactive fiction comes in many different forms: ebooks, websites, apps, and so on. It also varies significantly in content and methods of interaction. Some works of IF have images as a central component of the story while others are purely text-based. Some let the audience choose from a handful of predetermined choices while others allow open-ended text input with preprogrammed (or AI-generated) responses to key words and phrases.
Many video games, computer games, and roleplaying games would also qualify under a broad definition of interactive fiction. The author is telling a story and the audience is interacting with that story in ways that result in meaningful changes in the outcome. For the purposes of this post, though, we’ll focus primarily on interactive fiction where most or all of the action involves reading text and making text-based choices.
Here are a few great places to learn about interactive fiction and find many good examples of IF:
- The Interactive Fiction Database
- The Interactive Fiction Community Forum
- The Interactive Fiction Competition
- Choice Games
- Top Interactive Fiction Games at Itch.io
If you know of other examples that you would like me to add to this list, please let me know.
Interactive Climate Fiction
So far, I haven’t found much interactive climate fiction other than the climate change games I found on itch.io. I’m sure that there are some gems out there that I haven’t found yet because I haven’t done enough digging. If you know of any other good examples, let me know.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to start my own interactive climate fiction project — and you get to help me name it!
The basic concept is a website that’s a portal to an expansive world of interactive climate fiction created and curated by various authors. The landing page of the site will feature a fairly simple fictional world where the reader makes choices that lead them to longer works of interactive climate fiction that may or may not have any connection to each other.
In other words, this new site will be an ever-expanding interactive climate fiction anthology site.
I’m a big Twilight Zone fan, so I would love it if this evolves into the interactive climate fiction equivalent of The Twilight Zone. A growing collection of many weird tales that raise thought-provoking questions and offer implicit or explicit commentary on the climate crisis and climate justice.
What direction it goes, if any, will be determined in large part by what readers request and which authors show up and ask to participate.
Naming the Site
What should this site be named?
Since I’m the one starting and hosting the site, I want to name it. But since it’s an interactive fiction site, I would like my fellow readers and authors to be involved in the naming process. Therefore, let’s do some interactive climate microfiction right here, right now, to see what name for this site is most popular among people who are interested in reading and/or writing there.
If you would like to participate in helping to name the site, please read and respond to “In Your Dreams” below:
What do you think? Was that at least slightly more fun than the average Google form?
Making the Dream a Reality
When will this dream of an interactive climate fiction site become a reality?
I have several writing projects these days and not many hours per week to work on them all. However, the good news is that this should be a very simple project to start from a technical perspective. I just need to set up a WordPress site with social logins and a handful of other bells and whistles so that other authors can easily create and edit their own posts. Once I’ve settled on a name, I’ll do that in short order.
If you’re a reader, that’s plenty of information to start with. If you’re an experienced interactive fiction author, you may have questions.
For example, is all of the interactive fiction going to be contained in WordPress pages? Will the site feature support for standalone stories created with Twine and other interactive fiction software?
The answer is… we’ll see! I’ve used Twine before myself, so there’s a good chance that I’ll install a Twine WordPress plugin to provide support for Twine stories, including my own. Support for other interactive fiction software or formats will be lower priority (for now) and handled on a case-by-case basis.
If you have any other questions as a reader or author (or both!), feel free to contact me. In the meantime, thanks for reading — and wish me luck in turning this dream into a reality!
My name is Treesong. I’m a father, husband, author, talk radio host, and Real Life Superhero. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Ko-fi for my latest climate fiction releases and superhero adventures. Sign up for my newsletter to receive free cli-fi in your inbox. Check out my bookshop for climate change books, including both climate fiction and climate nonfiction!