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Friday, July 6, 2007
A History Of Zork
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 7 comments

Gamasutra, in partnership with IGDA's Preservation SIG, is providing detailed histories of each of the the first ten games voted into the Digital Game Canon. The first such history examines Infocom's classic Zork text adventure series, and gives readers a window into a time when text was king and graphics were for box covers.

Zork. For some, the name conjures up little more than a dim notion of the “primitive” era of home computing, back when graphics technology was so lacking that desperate gamers were willing to buy games even if they consisted entirely of text. For this group, the entire genre of “adventure games,” or “interactive fiction,” or whatever you wish to call it, was simply making a virtue of necessity. Gamers didn’t have access to good graphics technology, so they had to make do without it. Once the technology allowed for more “compelling” graphical experiences, of course this quaint text-only genre would go extinct. As for playing Zork today—you’re kidding, right? The text adventure is dead, kaput, deceased, expired, gone to meet the great developer in the sky. This genre is an ex-genre.

For others, though, the name Zork still makes their Elven swords glow blue. To them, saying that Zork is obsolete makes no more sense than saying J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ring trilogy is obsolete. Why do people still read Tolkien or any other novelists when there are so many movies and channels available on TV? If graphics and animation are so essential, then why haven’t comics and pop-up books long overtaken “plain text” novels on the New York Times best seller list? It isn’t difficult to see that humans aren’t exactly uniform or predictable in their preference for a given mode of entertainment. One size does not fit all, nor should it. Unfortunately, although movies and television never caused the novel to go out of production, graphical video games do seem to have caused the extinction of the text adventure. Or have they?
Check out the rest of the article at the link below.

Gamasutra: The History Of Zork
Digital Game Canon

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