Theory articles listed here attempt to define terms, eg: "What is X?"; sort things into categories, and make comparisons between things, eg: "How does X compare to Y?"
For articles that are more hands-on and attempt to answer "How do I do X?", see Craft.
- "Interactive Fiction as Literature" by Mary Ann Buckles is an early literary analysis of interactive fiction originally published in the May 1987 issue of BYTE magazine.
- Renga in Blue is Jason Dyer's IF blog. Contains several entries on IF theory topics.
- Toward a Theory of Interactive Fiction by Nick Montfort
- The Meta-Puzzle of Interactive Fiction: Why We Like What We Like. Interactivity Is The Message by Marnie Parker
- A Writer's Guide to Interactive Fiction by Andrew Plotkin, July 2010.
- Why Write IF? by Emily Short.
- Discussions about IF theory on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
- TADS vs. Inform - a (vaguely) in-depth comparison by Dan Shiovitz.
- A very useful (but long) TADS vs Inform7 comparison by Eric Eve.
- Character Gender in Interactive Fiction, Part I (archived) and Part II (archived) by Doug Atkinson for XYZZYnews issues #3 and #6. Compares how a variety of games handled PC gender.
- Choosing a Language for Interactive Fiction (2004), by Liza Daly for O'Reilly ONLamp.com.
- Discussions about different authoring systems on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
- Multilinear Interactive Fiction by Emily Short. Afterthoughts on concept and reactions to Galatea.
- On Chris Crawford and Interactive Storytelling by Emily Short.
- Discussions about game design on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
See also: Category:History of Interactive Fiction.
- About Interactive Fiction (1996, 2001), by Liza Daly. Very short.
- A Brief History of Interactive Fiction by Misty and Stephen Granade. Timeline created in 2002, with events from 1945-2000.
- Interactive fiction, from birth through precocious adolescence: a conversation with Jimmy Maher by Harry Kaplan and Jimmy Maher for Adventure Classic Gaming, 16 July 2009.
- Let's Tell a Story Together. A History of Interactive Fiction, © 2006 by Jimmy Maher. Long.
- The Digital Antiquarian - Jimmy Maher's blog with many very detailed articles about the history of interactive fiction (and some other game genres).
- Articles about the history of IF on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
- Get Lamp: The Text Adventure Documentary - 2010 documentary by Jason Scott.
- Brief Bibliography about IF History - by Emily Short. April 2, 2016.
- Mathbrush's page on IFWiki links to many essays, including a 2017 series of essays about the history of IFComp.
- 50 Years of Text Games by Aaron Reed. Series of articles published in 2021, examining one text game per year from 1971-2021.
(In other words, lists and categories.)
- Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games by Sam Kabo Ashwell.
- Categories of Interactive Fiction by Jason Dyer.
- NPC Conversations: Ask/Tell Theory by Jim Fisher (2004). Discusses four NPC models: Librarian, Rambling Idiot, Lecturing Professor, and Conversationalist.
- An Alternative Taxonomy for Interactive Stories by Emily Short.
- The Player Character's Role in Game Design by Duncan Stevens for Brass Lantern. Discusses certain key techniques in creating a meaningful PC and certain gimmicks that have been used to bring PCs to life.
- List of things that may get a player stuck by Jan Thorsby - Contribute!
- List of things that causes automatic playing by Jan Thorsby - Contribute!
- Player Character Identity in Interactive Fiction (archived) by John Wood for XYZZYnews #9. Asssociates types of PCs with types of IFs and genres.
- Articles about game genres on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
- What is IF? by Jim Fisher (2004).
- What's IF? by Emily Short.
- Eric on Interactive Fiction by Eric.xyzzy.