50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon now on Kickstarter

50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon now on Kickstarter

A new book, detailing the history of interactive fiction games, has launched on Kickstarter, and has smashed its funding goal within a day.

50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon is the latest Kickstarter project by Aaron A Reed – an award-winning writer and game designer with a PhD in interactive storytelling. Based on a popular blog post series from 2021, the series covered one text game from each year starting in 1971, when the original version of MECC’s The Oregon Trail was released. 

The book version takes the project to its conclusion, presenting the revised final versions of all fifty articles plus new maps, illustrations, and framing material in a 650-page volume. Author interviews, game excerpts, even snippets of source code help illustrate each game and explain how it works, what it’s about, why it’s special, and it’s lasting legacy.

The games covered in the book are some of the most popular games in the genre. Titles covered include Hunt the Wumpus, Zork, MUD and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from the early days, to more contemporary text based games like Howling Dogs, 80 Days & Lifeline. I played 80 Days on my Twitch Channel and would be interested in particular to read about that game, as the narritive choices in that adventure is excellent.

I’ve got a few of these books in the past, and they are great conversation pieces to have on your table. Backing starts at $1, but the pledge tiers are below:-

  • a Digital edition in two formats: PDF, and reflowable ebook
  • A Softcover edition
  • A Premium Hardback edition with a faux-leather, foil-stamped cover and bookmark ribbon, which also includes access to an exclusive online portal with bonus material and links to playable versions of most of the games 
  • The Collector’s Edition includes a numbered, limited copy of the hardback in a custom slipcase with unique cover art, as well as a companion booklet, Further Explorations, that contain 60 additional pages covering fan-favorite games like Planetfall and overlooked micro-genres like hacking simulators.
  • The Ultimate Collector’s Edition includes a custom-made box of collectible mementos and historical artifacts, including a real length of 70s paper punch tape, and other surprises to be revealed during the campaign.
  • The Patron tier includes two Collector’s Editions, special thanks, and a one-hour chat or consultation.
  • The Commission tier enlists Aaron to write a fully original article on a game of the backer’s choice.

The campaign launched June 7th on Kickstarter and runs through the first week of July. You can back the campaign here.

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