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An addventure is a type of online interactive fiction that combines aspects of round-robin stories and Choose Your Own Adventure-style tales. Like a round-robin story, an addventure is a form of collaborative fiction in which many authors contribute to a story, each writing discrete segments. However, like a gamebook, the resulting narrative is non-linear, allowing authors to branch out in different directions after each segment of the story. The result is a continually growing work of hypertext fiction.


[edit] History

The emergence of computer networks and electronic communication made the writing of collaborative fiction faster and less convenient than previous forms of correspondence. Round-robin stories were being written on bulletin board systems, mailing lists and USENET news groups, and many variations of the format were tried. One early form of branching story that emerged, where participants of such a round-robin group would start telling side-stories in parallel with the main story as it was still being created, led to very confusing and hard-to-follow stories if multiple branches were concurrently being extended on the same board or mailing list. Soon systems emerged in which such branches were formalized and easily separated from the main story.

The portmanteau word “addventure” was coined by Allen S. Firstenberg when he created an add-on story for the Nyack High School BBS in 1987-88 and called it “Add-venture”. In 1994 the story was transplanted to the World Wide Web in HTML format, where it garnered some attention — and soon many imitators.[1]

The magazines Internet World and Wired both wrote about Firstenberg's addventure.[2][3] Firstenberg's addventure site is still accessible, but all three stories that he ran have been closed for new additions for over 9999 years.[4]

Since then, a number of other addventures have been launched on the Web, some using Firstenberg's software and others using their own code. At least two of these stories have been running continuously for over ten years:

  • The BE Addventure This began on June 20, 1998. As of February 22, 2009 over 150,000 episodes had been written.[5] Note that this addventure's subject matter is pornographic.
  • Extend-A-Story: The Never Ending Quest This began on February 9, 1999. As of February 22, 2009 over 25,000 episodes had been written.[6]

The uses of hypertext fiction whose content is goal-driven include exploration of the concepts of alternate history, so-called Many-Worlds interpretation, collaborative fiction and the older idea of the mosaic novel.

[edit] Structure

Addventures, by their nature of discrete segments of writing connected to each other by paths, generally follow a conceptual tree structure. Each individual written section is a node, usually with one parent node and zero or more child nodes. Extending the addventure with new writing then becomes a task of choosing the node that one wants and adding a new child to it, with the new material comprising the content of the child. An addventure generally begins with a single room or chapter (the root node of the tree), and is extended by writers from that point.

The contents of nodes of the addventure are typically stored in a database, and each new node is assigned a unique identification number. In addition to identifying the node and serving as a primary key field for searching and indexing, the number is used to specify URLs that lead directly to that node and manipulate the tree, usually to allow a node to be moved from one parent to another or to give it new children.

[edit] Variants

Apart from the obvious variations of story genre, addventures can vary in their access restrictions for writers and in the restrictions they place on branching. Some addventures leave the continuation of a finished segment completely open, allowing any number of continuations in any direction imaginable, while others allow the author of the segment to influence the continuation by explicitly listing a set of possible directions.

[edit] Peculiarities

The stories produced on an addventure are usually meandering, of uneven quality, and — more often than not — forever unfinished, which leads some to dismiss addventures outright. For many users, however, it is the process, not the end result, that creates their enjoyment of this format. For them, the interaction and collaboration are the point of an addventure, not merely the means by which it is produced. Sometimes as with any fiction, whether collaborative or not, it is the boundaries and restrictions that produce moments of real greatness. The ability to add only a small piece of a narrative rather than a whole conventional 'chapter' or even page of text allows those who are not as gifted at writing to still participate. This is psychologically extremely rewarding for people of all walks of life and explains the continuing and in fact growing niche popularity of the addventure genre. Some threads have attained an almost novel-like length and complexity, particularly in Never Ending Quest.

[edit] Common characters

Although Addventure games tend to be entirely separate mega-plots a handful of established characters tend to make common appearances in some form in almost every game because many of the authors are the same in several games:

[edit] You

One of the most popular characters, the character of the reader tends to appear when an author breaks continuity by writing in 2nd person instead of traditional third person. Some addventures are intentionally written in second person, making "You" the protagonist. Mixing the styles some times leads to conflicts between the characters, i.e. "The hero tells you to get out of his story", a concept used by authors who wish to insert the proper main character back into the narrative flow.

'You' tends to be written as a basic, decent, gender-neutral being. The name is intentionally left ambiguous, along with other details that might pin down the nature of the character. This is so the reader can identify with 'you' easier.

[edit] Scott and Josh

Scott Chen and Josh Burbank are two young male slacker types, who have appeared in at least four addventure style games. The original Addventure, the defunct and lost Horsehockey, the current Extend-A-Story and the also-current Jack's Sofa. Personality wise, they are very violent, many times breaking out into destructive rages for little to no reason. Scott is bisexual and Josh is straight; with the usual exceptions for plot reasons. Both are generally written as accepting of alternate lifestyles. Deep down, they are decent people and often will try to do and say the right thing despite, as with many tasks or concepts they face, having no clue whatsover on how to proceed. Even in their most violent urges, they tend to try to avoid hurting the innocent.

Notably, they have been puzzled by the most basic of things, such as how to open a window, use a can of paint, play dead or walk across the room without falling over.

Scott and Josh tend to crave pure, honest adventure, mixed with a deep urge to simply know what is beyond the next corner. Lately, Scott has lost this urge, becoming more interested in watching tv and annoying Josh. When rational, Scott is the somewhat more reasonable of the two, though he is fully capable of being distracted by various unique stimuli and acting completely illogical.

Many of their escapades take place in the Staircase Room, an odd interdimensional crossroads that seemingly exists partly in a strange, gigantic tower. The room is fairly basic, with a sofa, boxed food, one aforementioned window and a tv. Jerry Seinfeld is often written as living above the Room. Though not a talent restricted to the room, Scott and Josh tend to come back from the dead here more often. Despite the name, the Room is not limited to four walls, it regularly features adjoining bedrooms, fast food restaurants or whatever the reader/author wishes to add.

Note: Josh Burbank is not to be confused with Sir Josh, they are two separate, fictional entities. This is especially important since Sir Josh is loosely based on a real person.

[edit] Bruce

An old friend/possible ex-lover of Scott Chen. Also Asian, with mysterious ties to the very nature of the interconnected textual reality. Is a main focus of the 'Silver Door room'; a prominent interdimensional crossroads that is focused around the life of Scott. This room and thus Bruce, was featured more heavily in the original Addventure then in other games.

[edit] Story Police

An obscure authority that intervenes when a storyline derails, often leading to violent destruction of the fourth wall and rapid imprisonment of the offending characters. They are more concerned with making the story feature Lord Fred, since that is what the NEQ originally did feature. They usually dress in red. They sometimes become deeply involved with the plot, against their will.

[edit] Sara and Jasper

Sara and Jasper Hewitt: Cousins, who have made about as many appearances as Scott and Josh game-wise, often teaming up with them. Sara is usually the voice of reason, no matter where she is, even when faced with the illogical, improbable and violent (usually in the form of Scott and Josh). Jasper is a well meaning follower, fiercely loyal to Sara and deeply peaceful. The pair are well-liked by most who know them; they do not (usually) break into violent rampages like Scott and Josh.

Sara's half-rabbit double has been appearing more and more.

They were the original focus of one of the Horsehockey games, having woken up by the side of a mysterious two lane road. For a time, it was believed Jasper was a transformed canine. As with all Addventure plot details, Jasper's humanity can change from thread to thread.

[edit] Authors

Many authors have written in multiple Addventure games over the years and have created characters based on themselves. This is treated very carefully, as authors must be careful not to offend real people when using their authoritial 'characters'. The appearance of authors tends to indicate a much more humorous story branch. Many authors have taken to writing the adventures of their own avatars; thus much more ludicrous things can and often do happen to said avatars.

[edit] Celebrities

Well known people, such as Bill Cosby, Bill Murray and Captain America, have been written into the story. They often are called upon to give advice and or reassuring hugs. They try to steer the characters onto more moral/less destructive paths.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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