Return to the roots of adventure gaming, where the story’s the thing.
A time was when only programmers played computer games, for only programmers had access to computers. Hackers created the first adventure games, deep in the warrens of SAIL and the stygian halls of MIT. The first was Adventure, or Colossal Cave; the second was Dungeon, or Zork.
A time was, a few years later, when ordinary people could own computers—TRS-80, Apple II, C-64—for only a few thousand dollars. Those MIT hackers packed up Zork, divided and expanded it, and sold it as Zork 1, 2, and 3. Along the way, they made other fantasy adventure games, mysteries, science fiction, historical adventures, and less classifiable experiments.
Their company was Infocom. Their games, in the days of their glory, were entirely text, which understood natural-language commands and produced prose output. They even adopted a new term, interactive fiction , or IF. Through the early- and mid-1980s, critics called Infocom’s work the most literate, sophisticated, and entertaining in the computer-gaming world.
Gaming changed after that. Today a “computer game” means flashy graphics, almost without question. The computer market grew enormously, but text adventures didn’t grow in proportion.
Yet text adventures have not gone away. When gaming markets wouldn’t support them and big gaming companies wouldn’t sell them, hobbyists and amateurs wrote them instead. Today, they create dozens of text ...