Home | Profile - Edit | Your Page | Your Inbox Browse | Search Games   |   Log In


Story File
For all systems. To play, you'll need a glulx interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page

The Chinese Room

by Harry Giles and Joey Jones profile


(based on 29 ratings)
3 member reviews

About the Story

The Chinese Room is a hilarious romp through the world of philosophical thought experiments. Have you ever wanted to win Zeno's race? Free the denizens of Plato's Cave? Or find out what it's really like to be a bat? Now is your chance!

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: September 30, 2007
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 7
Baf's Guide ID: 3054
IFID: 2A684CAD-6B5E-4D2A-92FC-D6C6E80E35B6
TUID: j6vtd2djn6o97a8b


5th Place - 13th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2007)

Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best NPCs - 2007 XYZZY Awards

Editorial Reviews

Play This Thing!
The Chinese Room is a little like Norman Juster's Phantom Tollbooth in interactive form. Taking place entirely in the realm of philosophical thought experiment, The Chinese Room tackles questions about the nature of perception, the foundations of ethical systems, and the theoretical basis of calculus. If you've ever wanted to meet Aristotle or Karl Marx in text adventure form, this is your opportunity.
See the full review


- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)
(Log in to add your own tags)

Member Reviews

5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 3
Write a review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Very entertaining, April 11, 2011
Overall, I very much enjoyed playing this game. I'm a college student, last semester I took a philosophy of mind course and I found this game very interesting; I may even recommend it to my prof. Most of the information agrees with what I learned, but it is presented in a manner reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland (the book (whose real title was actually quite a bit longer, but whatever)). The result is a very surreal, and thoroughly enjoyable game. There were times when I literally laughed out loud at the humor (though I suppose it does help to be familiar with the subject matter, you certainly don't need to be a professor, and the THINK ABOUT command makes it accessible to nearly everyone).

There were a few negatives, though. I encountered a rather bad case of guess-the-verb with (Spoiler - click to show)the invisible unicorn and the burden of proof -- the game wouldn't accept things like PUT BURDEN ON UNICORN or GIVE BURDEN TO UNICORN -- which is quite annoying when you have a turn limit. The solution, by the way, is to HANG the burden on the unicorn, which was completely unintuitive, at least to me. Another issue is an unwinnable scenario; avoidable, though: just don't enter the castle until you feel you've solved all the other puzzles. (Spoiler - click to show)The veil is part of the puzzle to get into the castle; don't waste your time trying to find a use for it, and same for the various implements the steward will offer you once you solve her (his?) puzzle.

Because of these issues I am reluctant to give five stars, but it is an excellent game nonetheless and I strongly recommend it.

Finally, the executive summary: This is a very entertaining game with a short to medium play time, great writing quality, and a focus on puzzles over story (since the game is rather surreal, there's not much of a story, but this is intentional and done well, in my opinion).

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A large game about philosophical conundrums and philosophers, February 3, 2016
This longish game has a pretty big map, after a bottlenecking first room. You explore a world where philosophical thought experiments are given life (Plato's cave, Zeno's paradox, etc.) Philosophers are also there: Marx, Plato, Rand, and others.

The game was generally fun, but before I get to the good, I had three bones to pick:

1. The game insults those who look for a walkthrough. To me, this implies that the authors strongly believe that their game is coded well enough that someone who knows the solution to a puzzle will be able to type in the correct answer without a problem. This brings me to the second point:

2. The implementation is spotty; you must (Spoiler - click to show)LIGHT LANTERN WITH LIGHTER, not LIGHT LANTERN, and this is typical of several other parts of the game. When poor implementation abounds, it is frequently necessary to seek help.

3. The game has a condescending tone. The player is an educated atheistic male. The game has some issues with 'male gaze' (although see the comment below by Sobol), includes female philosophers but has little interaction with them, and has the same tone towards religion as reddit's atheism board: "Aren't we so glad that we are superior to those silly peasants with their moral fables?" In fact, the game bashes on religion as much as it can.

I normally don't point out flaws in the works I play, but I can't stand this much smugness.

Outside of that, the game itself is enjoyable, and the puzzles are fun. Quite a few of the puzzles depend on examining things twice (once to see something interesting, then again to see what you need). The in-game help system was well-done, and the images and writing were imaginative.

Recommended for puzzle fiends and those interested in philosophy.

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fun stuff, June 23, 2008
Aside from the occasional guess the verb this is a fun couple of hours worth of play. Not entirely implemented but given the caveat it turns out not to matter so much. Philosophically snarky which should be enough reason to play any game. Save often though, I forgot to and when I screwed up I was so annoyed at having to start over that I didn't bother, so I never actually saw the ending.

If you enjoyed The Chinese Room...

Related Games

People who like The Chinese Room also gave high ratings to these games:

The Baker of Shireton, by Hanon Ondricek
Average member rating: (17 ratings)
You are the Baker of Shireton. The bread you bake is delicious. Raiders are coming.

The Tale of the Kissing Bandit, by J. Robinson Wheeler
Average member rating: (43 ratings)

The Guild of Thieves, by Rob Steggles
Average member rating: (20 ratings)
Steal yourself a world of fantasy WHY BUY THIS GAME WHEN YOU CAN STEAL IT ? Except you can't. Not yet. An amateur like you? Come off it! Now, if you were a fully paid-up member of the notorious Guild of Thieves, things would be...

Suggest a game

Recommended Lists

The Chinese Room appears in the following Recommended Lists:

A Year on IFDB: The games that have stayed with me by Spike
About a year ago I discovered post-AGT interactive fiction. Since then I've played a lot of great IF games. This list consists of the ones that have stuck with me the most. They're not necessarily the ones I rated the highest immediately...

Bookamrked by Xuan Li
memorable stuff?

IF to learn with by Emily Short
A few IF games are designed to be educational (and not only for children). This is a brief overview of the ones I've found most successful.

See all lists mentioning this game


The following polls include votes for The Chinese Room:

The great puzzlefests by Victor Gijsbers
Playing Curses!, I started wondering which games belong to the canon of great puzzlefests. With this term I mean puzzle based games that are long, difficult and punishing; but also fair, engaging and truly rewarding to work through. The...

Educational IF by Spike
Several of us are interested in using IF for education, both in the classroom as well as more broadly. The purpose of this poll is to collect examples of IF with an educational focus.

Games with Impossible-to-film moments by aaronius
I'm looking for games that demonstrate the power of text-based games. Games with sentences that would make developers of 3D games weep, like "The army of ten million robots marched over the liquid landscape," or "She concealed her anger...


This is version 6 of this page, edited by MathBrush on 8 February 2017 at 4:47pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item