The Return of Text Adventure Games
Hannah Lea takes a look at the history of Text Adventure Games and explains how Re-dock will be working with young people in libraries to create ‘an epic saga of the north’ for FACT’s new art commission Networked Narrative.
30 December 2014
Text adventure games were amongst some of the earliest forms of computer games. Their objective always involved the player overcoming obstacles and solving puzzles to complete their quest – building the earliest foundations for all computer games. In 1975, Will Crowther wrote the very first text adventure game, Adventure. Very early editions could only understand simple two-word verb-noun combinations – 'use sword', 'get lamp'… but soon they became much more complex, giving rich descriptions to gamers about their surroundings and characters, and could understand more lengthy, complicated instructions. These text adventures led to the popularity of role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and as the platform quickly developed, Infocom’s Zork became one of the most famous examples of an interactive fiction game.
Now, as we approach 2015, Prysm aims to re-capture the art of storytelling in text adventures and bring them into libraries across England with the help of artist collective Re-dock. Established in 2008 in the heart of Liverpool as a community interest company, Re-dock’s work is led by a collective of artists and filmmakers to develop unique, creative projects throughout the North West and beyond. Artists Hwa Young Jung and Neil Winterburn are working with young people to create the first commission for the Networked Narrative project; an online text adventure game.
Taking place in libraries in Burnley, Wigan and Hull, young creatives will work alongside re-dock artists to create three narratives, within three genres (one for each location). These stories will be based on each of the locations, in a sense creating an alternative online world parallel to the real world.
“The main objective is to create a giant coherent saga of the North, based on the three separate locations, but ultimately one story.” Hwa Young Jung, re-dock artist.
The text adventure game is a great way for young people to explore their community and surroundings by creating a fictional world based on their area. Through some amazing workshops and activities (DIY cartography, balloon mapping, map making, creative writing), the budding artists, coders and storytellers will ultimately transform all of their creative input into an online platform/presence via the text adventure game.
The game is the first installment of a trilogy of art commissions by FACT as part of Networked Narrative, which runs until 2016.
For more information about Networked Narrative, please visit the project page.
Image credit: Stephen King