Truth in interactive fiction

Synthese 200 (6):1-18 (2022)
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This paper provides an account of truth in interactive fiction. Interactive fiction allows the audience to make choices, resulting in many different possible fictions within each interactive fiction, unlike in literary fiction where there is just one. Adequately capturing this feature of interactive fiction requires us to address familiar issues regarding impossible fiction and the nature of time in fiction. Truth in interactive fiction thus requires a complex account to capture its multitude of fictions. It is argued that a full account of truth in interactive fiction requires distinguishing two works for each interactive fiction, which contain distinct fictional truths. The actual work encompasses what is in fact represented as fictional (hence mistakes can be fictionally true in this work), whilst in the implied work, truth in fiction is governed by authorial intention, hence mistakes are not fictionally true. This dual account best captures our aesthetic evaluation of interactive fictions, for which we often need to distinguish how the work actually is from how it was intended to be.

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Alex Fisher
Cambridge University


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