Text Games Get Film Treatment


“It was a time where, for a while, the top-selling interactive games in the world were essentially books,” said Jason Scott, a Boston filmmaker and Unix system administrator who is shooting a documentary called Get Lamp about text adventure pioneers. As with his last film — a five-and-a-half-hour documentary about bulletin boards called BBS: The Documentary — Scott’s plan is to archive a period in computing history that’s at risk of drifting into obscurity.

Text-based games faded from popular culture in the late 1980s as personal computers became advanced enough to process detailed graphics and sound. But early favorites, like the underground adventure series Zork created by MIT students in the late 1970s, still have a cult following. Online repositories like The Interactive Fiction Archive and the Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games also maintain access to early works.