Peasant’s Quest: Children’s Game or Interactive Fiction?

Michael S. Gentry’s Anchorhead reminded me of computer games that I used to play in my younger days, like Peasant’s Quest. This game comes from HomestarRunner.com, a kids’ site from the early 2000’s.

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Peasant’s Quest is a parody of 1970’s text games like Oregon Trail.

In Peasant’s Quest, you play a lowly peasant who seeks revenge after Trogdor the Burninator destroys your straw hut. You move your character with the arrow keys and interact with the world through standard text commands like “talk to Mendelev” and “take the meatball sub.”

Trogdor is a snake with wings, fire breath, and a single beefy arm.

It’s similar to the literary “video games” that we’ve played, such as Reagan Library, Anchorhead, and Galatea in that you must use directives to explore the world and find a predetermined path to finish the game. However, the creators of Peasant’s Quest intended it to be a silly video game, not a piece of literature to analyze.

Does Peasant’s Quest fit into the genre of interactive fiction? I would say that it does. Despite the creators’ lowbrow intentions, Peasant’s Quest acts as both a computer game and interactive fiction. In Electronic Literature, Katherine Hayles explains that IF has the strongest game elements out of all electronic genres, but it differs from computer games in its emphasis. She writes, “We may say that with games the user interprets in order to configure, whereas in works whose primary interest is narrative, the user configures in order to interpret” (8). I argue that Peasant’s Quest fits into both definitions, albeit for a young audience. Just like print works such as The Chronicles of Narnia count as children’s literature, certain video games fit into the genre of children’s interactive fiction.

So, what do you think: is Peasant’s Quest a children’s computer game, interactive fiction, or both?

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One Response to Peasant’s Quest: Children’s Game or Interactive Fiction?

  1. festsjester says:

    The moment I saw someone had posted on peasant’s quest, I became jealous. This is a grand idea for the subject of a blog post about interactive literature, and I may steal your source and write about Strongbad emails. You certainly didn’t go into too much detail about what is involved within peasant’s quest as a story and it’s utter awesomeness a creative, interactive game. Its simplicity certainly removes it from the more complex games we looked at for class, but I definitely agree with your claim that it falls within the realm of interactive literature. Geared towards the website’s demographic of dorky adolescents, Peasant’s Quest fulfills the reader’s/player’s desire to become part of the website’s semi complex lore, and allows them to interact with Trogdor, who was conceived in one of the website’s previous creations in a separate context. The network of the website’s characters and their own creations, such as Trogdor and PQ, is a fascinating connection to the ideas we’ve been discussing in class as well, but the concept of PQ itself relates well for the purpose of this blog.

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