A book outlining the history of text based gaming has reached its Kickstarter funding goal within two hours of going live.
Aaron A. Reed’s Kickstarter campaign for his book, 50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon waltzed to its $29,000 goal, showing that – even after 50 years – the appeal of writing and reading about dank environments, trolls and locked doors (rather than taking the easy way out and simply rendering them in Unreal Engine 5) still has great appeal for many.
The book offers an in-depth look at fifty years of interactive fiction, covering text game titles released from 1971 to 2020. Reed has enhanced the book’s content which was initially published as multiple blog posts. Some of the titles covered in Reed’s book are 1985’s A Mind Forever Voyaging and – of course – 1977’s Zork.
“From text adventures to VR poetry, MUDS to mobile dating sims, chatbots to roguelikes, these games without graphics have often pioneered new techniques for interactive storytelling, engaged imaginations with beautiful prose and clever gameplay, and discovered the many ways written stories can be played,” Reed writes on the campaign’s page. “Often forgotten, frequently overlooked, they’re still worth remembering today.”
Beyond the many chapters, the title also includes:
- A lengthy introduction on the pre-history of digital text games, including fascinating early experiments from the 1950s and 60s
- An introduction to each decade capturing larger trends and movements
- Custom maps and diagrams to reveal each game’s structure
- Extensive version and release histories for each game
- A full index and research bibliography
As of writing this article, 50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I., Dungeon has received over $127,000 in funding via Kickstarter. A sample chapter is available on the book’s campaign page as a downloadable pdf.
It’s a great piece of history and a welcome respite from a world where half of all Gen Z gamers feel more themselves in the metaverse, confusion, money grabs and scams rain in hard, and warnings come increasingly thick and fast about potential troubles just around the corner.
Ah, simpler times.