This is an archive of a past course's class materials from 2011. Present "Games & Society" students should look elsewhere to find their coursework; consult your current syllabus for more information.

The designer and intstructor of this lab course, Jason McIntosh, has written notes and commentary about this course which may be of interest to other teachers. You can contact the author at

GAME1111 week 5: Adventures in Text

Week 5 - Adventures in Text

This week we’ll look at several videogames whose main interface is restricted to text. Some take this route because they’re from so long ago that text was the only feasible play medium for digital games of the day. Some, on the other hand, are from the last few years.

Your homework this week is as play-intensive as it is reading-intensive! I’d like you to play some of the games listed below before our lab meeting – I’ve marked which ones. I’ll quiz you about what you found inside them, and then we’ll discuss how they compare with one another and with Lost Pig, a more involved text game we’ll play together in class.

Questions to ponder:

Hunt the Wumpus (Gregory Yob)

Play this game before class. It’s very short. Play it a few times, and see if you can get your head around how it works.

In this game from the deep history of computer-game culture (dude, it’s older than I am) you are a hunter, in a mysterious cave with the deadly (albeit sleepy) Wumpus. You’ve got a bow and arrows and a big empty spot over your fireplace begging for a Wumpus-sized trophy. Go get it. Try not to die.

Choice of Broadsides (Heather Albano)

Play this game before class. It’s longish. Plan to spend an hour or two to work all the way through it.

A story about a young naval officer in the Napoleonic Wars – sort of.

The game communicates with the player only through text, but the player picks their way through the game using a multiple-choice system. As you play, pay attention to the background workings of the game that are exposed to you, and think about how it all works together to tell a story.

Lost Pig (Admiral Jota)

We’ll play this together in-class. You don’t need to play (or even study) it ahead of time, though you certainly can if you wish.

A story about an Orc named Grunk. He has lost his pig. He’s got to find it, but he isn’t very bright. Maybe you can help?

This is a work of interactive fiction, where both the input and and the output are English text. (Or, in this case, English with an Orcish accent.) Games like these were literally the most dominant kind of computer game for much of the 1980s. By today’s standards, though, they’re very hard for a brand-new player to figure out. We’ll examine this game type’s strengths and weaknesses in-class.