Text-Based Computer Games

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The opening sequence of Zork I, created in 1979 by Infocom.

Text-Based Computer Games were computer games popular during the 1980s that required players to read lines of text on their computer screen which described a virtual world and allowed players to interact within that world by typing textual commands using a keyboard. The games did not contain graphics (pixel-based images such as bitmaps or raster graphics), and required heavy participating from the user, creating an experience that closely linked the human body to machine. Games such as Zork and Adventureland are difinitive examples of text-based computer games, and although they are not obsolete, they have generally been remediated by image-based computer games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest that feature high-end animated computer graphics, ultimately allowing the user to detach themselves from the game, replacing their physical body with that of a digitized avatar. This article will explore the experience of text-based computer gaming, and argue that is a form of interactive fiction which prompts players to actively use their minds in order to imagine a virtual world, allowing them to solve a maze-like puzzle. This article will also include an analysis of Multi-User Dungeon Object Oriented virtual realms (MOOs), because although they are not technically "games," they are text-based virtual worlds that allow users to explore textual world while interacting with other users in a chat-based setting, while additionally allowing users to participate in narrative creation through object-oriented programming.

Interactive Fiction

Remediated Narrative

The Labyrinth

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The Typed Word

Visuality/The Imagined

MOOs, OOP, and Interface

The Image-Based Computer Game

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Creating an avatar in World of Warcraft.