The Source Code of Stories

Inform 7 is a programming language used in the creation of what is sometimes called “interactive fiction,” a type of game in which

In writing the source code of an Inform 7 game, I am also codifying my worldview:

A person is either strong or weak. A person is usually weak. A person is either obedient or disobedient. A person is usually obedient.

As the story is written, it plays out the rules of this model of human behavior. Through this example we see that Umberto Eco’s notion of the author as a writing machine—a combinatorial chooser—was not merely a metaphor but the bare truth. Inform’s utility as a tool for meta-fiction exposes the fact that all stories have a kind of source code to them, whether it is visible or not.