"Two of the most common approaches [to academic study of] adventure games seem to be apologetics and trivialization. Both generally fail to grasp the intrinsic qualities of the genre, because they both privilege the aesthetic ideals of another genre, that of narrative literature, typically the novel. For the apologists, adventure games may one day -- when their Cervantes or Dickens comes along -- reach their true potential, produce works of literary value that rival the current narrative masterpieces, and claim their place in the canon. For the trivialists, this will never happen; adventure games are games, they cannot possibly be taken seriously as literature nor attain the level of sophistication of a good novel. Although the trivialists are right -- adventure games will never become good novels -- they are also making an irrelevant point, because adventure games are not novels at all. The adventure game is an artistic genre of its own, a unique aesthetic field of possibilities, which must be judged on its own terms. And while the apologists certainly are wrong, in that the games will never be considered good novels, they are right in insisting that the genre may improve and eventually turn out something rich and wonderful. This may or may not happen, so the only way to understand the genre is to study the various works that already exist and how they are played."
-- Espen J. Aarseth, Cybertext (info)