|Index||4 reviews in total|
This is an excellent documentary for those interested in Interactive Fiction, or old-school text adventure games like Infocom created in the '80s. It is the only documentary on the subject and the director manages to interview many of the luminaries who created this genre. The disk also includes mini-documentaries on Colossal Cave and Infocom as well as a series of shorter interviews that didn't make it into the film. If you ever geeked out to Zork, Deadline or Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, you will enjoy this film. That said, I am not sure it works for a mainstream audience who are not familiar with this genre.
While Jason's work to preserve the viewpoints and images of early
creators before it's too late is commendable, I watched it with a set
of friends who never saw the games in action. For them, it was just odd
and a little intriguing, but as we watched the whole 90+ minutes in
non- interactive mode there was boredom in the room. Not having
experienced the thrill of the chase, it meant not that much to them.
However, myself having experienced many of the early games in my teens and early 20s, it was a great look back at what was an obsession. Granted, I never finished most interactive fiction games because I might be willing to put 5 or 6 hours into it but not 20 or 30 hours so I guess that makes me stupid.
I agree with the other reviewer who said there were opportunities missed to link it with games that evolved out, such as King's Quest, which were a hybrid of text and graphics. Why the bias against that? Also, to be fair, remember David Ahl's "BASIC Computer Games" which had the text of some 300 text games to type in. Many of them, such as Hunt The Wumpus, contained many Adventuresque elements.
Even so, I applaud Jason for having the tenacity of going after his early heroes and definitively linking Collosal Cave system to Adventure for all time.
The movie seemed a little too personal to me, and I guess in many ways
that was the point: it was a love letter to this type of gaming. A love
letter to first generation gamers. In that sense, there were definitely
some poignant lines on people reflecting on their work in these
games/genre/time period. But I also thought there was a missed
opportunity to show how this type of gaming really morphed into many of
the popular games that we see today. To take one example, the common
threads are so distinct going backwards from Lionhead's Fable series
(third generation console gamers) to Sierra's King Quest (second
generation PC gamers) all the way back to Adventure (first generation
"computer" gamer). There's also the obvious example of Myst!
I think there were missed opportunities to create a great documentary (that could have had universal appeal amongst gamers). But if you were involved with interactive fiction, played interactive fiction, or just generally want to know where gaming got its start, the documentary is worth a look-see.
I quite like Jason Scott's style of collecting as many geeks on camera and let them rant. This already worked quite well in the BBS documentary, but you have to be quite dedicated to the subject to sit through the whole two discs. The collection of talking face is certainly eclectic and at times you're getting a very intimate insight into some of the fans' private lives. The rise and fall of Infocom is documented quite extensively, but have benefited from focus on the most famous/infamous games. I would have expected a bit more on the history of IF, which for some reason got short shrift, but overall a gem of a collection.
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