IFTF 2019 testing program – Tester’s Guide


Thank you very much for helping us test the state of interactive fiction (IF) accessibilty!

We ask you to read this guide and then play two short IF games using whatever gameplay setup is comfortable for you, including any assistive technology that you normally use with mouse-and-keyboard-driven computer games. We then ask that you fill out two brief surveys about your experiences playing these games.

Your answers will help us measure the accessibility of various popular IF gameplay platforms, and identify areas that need more work. Our program will release a report of our methods, findings, and recommendations to the IF community later this year. Every participant of this test who plays the games and submits the surveys will receive named credit in this report, as well as a $10 Amazon gift card as a token of our thanks.

If you have any questions about the games, the surveys, or any other part of this testing process, you may contact Jason McIntosh at jmac@iftechfoundation.org, or share them with the testing mailing list at testing2019@iftechfoundation.org.

The games

We have created two games specifically for this testing project:

  • A Night Below the Opera, by Andrew Plotkin. This is a parser-driven game that works in the mode of classic text adventures. You can play it in a web browser, or in a specialized interpreter program. It should take you an hour or less to play through.

  • Twine of Access, by furkle. This hypertext work should run in any modern web browser. It should take you half an hour or less to play through.

Both games are meant to be short, easy, and entertaining, while also full of accessibility challenges likely to trip up different IF play-platforms with weak accessibility support.

You might get stuck while playing either of these games for this reason, and that’s OK! We will want to know about any troubles you had completing the game in the post-gameplay surveys. Furthermore, A Night Below the Opera includes a separate walkthrough you can consult to help you key your way through any accessibility failure you might encounter.

The surveys

After playing either game, please fill out its respective survey, which we link to later in this document. You may replay the game while answering the survey questions, if you need to; these are meant to be measures of the games’ accessibility, and not tests of your memory, after all.

Testing schedule

The testing period runs through February 4, 2019. Both of the games’ surveys will remain open only until this date, so please get your responses in by then!

Shortly after this date, we will send the thank-you gift cards to all participants who completed and submitted at least one survey. Later in the year, we will release a report of our findings to the public, and send notification of this to all test participants. That will wrap up this project!

Playing the games

We recommend playing Twine of Access first. Of the two games, it is significantly shorter, and it has a shorter survey as well. It represents an easier starting-point, especially if you’re not already familiar with interactive fiction.

When you finish Twine of Access and its survey, we would love it if you carried on to try A Night Below the Opera, as well. (And, of course, if you want to jump into the deep end and start with A Night Below the Opera instead, please do feel free!)

Twine of Access

In this hypertext, you will explore the interior of a mysterious castle, collecting four unusual objects to appease an impatient genie.

We have two variants of this game that we'd like to test. As such, we're dividing testers informally into two groups for this game:

  • If your first name's initial is between A and J, please follow this link to play the game.

  • If your first name's initial is between K and Z, please follow this link to play the game.

In either case, the game will start immediately inside a new tab within your web browser. And that’s all there is to it!

When you are done, please fill out this survey.

(The title of this game refers to Roger Firth’s Cloak of Darkness, a venerable IF testing game from the 1990s. As this blog post explains, many aspects of IFTF’s accessibility testing project take inspiration from it.)

A Night Below the Opera

In this text adventure, you will explore the basement of a mysterious opera house, attempting to collect five treasures and then making your way outside. (Yes, treasure-hunts are a staple of interactive fiction, and we shamelessly rely on the trope for both these test games.)

There are many different ways to play A Night Below the Opera, and the game also includes some additional material. For this reason, we’ve set up a separate page with instructions for playing this game: follow this link to get started.

When you are done, please fill out this survey.

(The setting and the treasures in this game also take their naming and atmospheric cues from Cloak of Darkness.)


Please direct any questions you have about this test program to Jason McIntosh at jmac@iftechfoundation.org, or share them with the testing mailing list at testing2019@iftechfoundation.org.

Thanks again for helping us make interactive fiction more accessible. We look forward to hearing from you!