Reflections on using Interactive Fiction 9.05

Following my  introduction to using interactive fiction as a learning tool I wanted to jot down some thoughts from my experience of using it recently with a couple of groups.

Explaining what Interactive Fiction(IF) is to students is an essential first step. Instead of using Interactive Fiction I decided to go with the term Adventure Game, then added the modifier Text-Based. Most of the group (whose average age is 18/19) knew the concept of an adventure game but few about text-based ones. Only then did I add that nowadays these are called Interactive Fiction.

I then explained that you needed to know some one word commands to direct your character in the story, and handed them a list of common verbs.

Showing an example is the next step, I used 9.05 which is ideal as a starter since it is based on everyday world context (i.e. not ones with dragons and such) and relatively short time to complete. Using the start screen I dictated the text and stopped at any unusual words or phrases to check understanding (in this case – spare, haphazardly).

Asking the groups to vote for what to do as the first step in the game always seems to pique their interest and generate a bit of heated discussion as to what is the best move.

I then told the students to work in pairs, with one person typing the commands and the other person taking note of what commands were typed and what happened as a result. They were also instructed to note down any new/difficult words they find.

As they started to play the game I needed to give them some help e.g. a very useful command is Inventory to see what items you are carrying. Further help needed was to get them to notice that certain actions must happen before others e.g. students spent some time examining the dresser before realising they needed to open it.

The atmosphere generated by using this game was clear enough, students were much more engaged than if you had just given them a static story to read.

To try to gauge a recorded outcome as homework I told them to briefly write-up what they had done in the game and to note down difficult words. Unfortunately I had not known at the time that there is a command Transcription which exports all game moves to a file. This can provide a good opportunity for some analysis.

So if you are still hesitating about using IF in class don’t, just dive in, you won’t regret it!

More info on the whys and wherefores of IF in language teaching can be found at Joe Pereira’s site.


9 thoughts on “Reflections on using Interactive Fiction 9.05

  1. Hey eslnotes – awesome post! This has been my main goal for quite a while – getting teachers to try out IF with their students – and discovering for themselves how engaging it can be. I’d really like to hear about any further feedback you might get from the students, particularly about them playing other IF games autonomously.
    I’ve been planning about posting about the actual implementation of IF in the classroom since the blog’s inception, but decided to delve into the more theoretical considerations for using IF for DGBL first. Well, it seems you beat me to it 🙂 I hope you don’t mind if I take your post as a kick in the backside to actually get down and finally do it! For the record, your reflections on the student’s attitudes towards playing 9:05 parallel my own – and hopefully, you’ll be able to read about it in a book chapter in 2013 😉

    1. hi joe, great am glad to get such a positive response to the post, and if you want a reviewer for your book chapter don’t hesistate! 🙂


      1. Hi Mura. I have already submitted the first draft of one chapter to the editor, but if you’d like to read it, email me. I am currently in the process of writing another chapter, and if I manage to finish it ahead of schedule (which I really doubt :)), I’d be thrilled to have you review it.

    1. hi kristan,

      thanks for the link, there seems to be some good options available online to play these days!


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