One of Textfyre‘s marketing claims is going to be that interactive fiction teaches literacy: vocabulary, reading comprehension, that sort of thing. (It also teaches typing — I have long claimed that Infocom taught me how to touch-type, because I was too absorbed in the game to look down at the keyboard.)
The vocabulary claim is certainly true for me. I always suspected that Infocom had a hidden agenda to broaden our vocabularies, because there were always a few words in their games that sent me to the dictionary. When I wrote my first game, I tried to inject a little tribute to this tradition, with a peninsular location I called “Chersonese.” I was reminded of this recently as I thumbed through a thesaurus given to me as a gift.
In that spirit, I present an incomplete list of the words I learned from Infocom games:
EBCDIC (Zork I)
menhir (Zork II)
reliquary (Beyond Zork)
reticule (Plundered Hearts)
topiary (Zork II)
These are just the ones that turned up in a cursory search of my brain. Anybody else got others?