ASCII art (also known as an ASCII graphic or character graphic) is a picture made from ASCII text characters arranged in a rectangular grid, where each cell in the grid contains either a character or a space. ASCII art was very commonplace in early computer games (such as Trek and Rogue) when most computers were limited to text-only monochrome displays and the programmer's choices of graphics was either ASCII art or no graphics at all.
Interactive fiction, which is still mostly a text-only medium, continues to use ASCII art now and then, although perhaps less often than it used to, since most IF authoring systems now support the display of pixel graphics.
ASCII art has been used in many ways in IF:
- as title card screens,
- as compass roses,
- as illustrations of items in the game,
- as in-game maps of game geography,
- as partial-to-full puzzle text,
- as signage,
- as board game or mini-game layouts,
- as hieroglyphics or alien writing,
- and as borders or section separators.
Animated ASCII art
Notable works using animated ASCII art:
- Freefall (porter: Andrew Plotkin; 1995; Z-code) -- and other Z-abuses.
- Custard (Evin Robertson; 2000; Z-code 7).
- The Lost Spellmaker (Neil James Brown; 1997; Z-code 5).
- Silence of the Lambs 2 (The Thief of Bad Gags; 2002; Z-code).
- I'm Gonna Take You to the Video Bar! (James Mitchelhill; 2004; TADS 2).
- Words Get Twisted Round and Tumble Down (Gunther Schmidl; 2000; Z-code).
- ZRacer (David Fisher; 2007; Z-code 5).