Last March, I shared a piece from Aaron Reed's delightful SubStack newsletter 50 Years of Text Games about the original 1982 Hobbit text adventure. Reed ended up covering a full 50 years worth of text based gaming, which each newsletter edition — and soon-to-be book chapter — focusing on one text-based video game from each year since the launch of the original Oregon Trail in 1971.
Reed just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a 50 Years of Text Games book, which looks like it's shaping up to a beautiful artifact on its own:
In the book you'll find fifty in-depth chapters, covering fifty games released in each year from 1971—when a Minnesota teacher wheeled a teletype into his class to debut a game called The Oregon Trail—to 2020 and the latest in A.I. storytellers. Revised and enhanced from the acclaimed blog series, each featured game gets a rich, deep-dive analysis into how it works, what it's about, why it's special, and its lasting legacy.
The fifty games you'll discover include famous classics, overlooked gems, and forgotten genres: everything from epic MUDs to generative text engines, and games running on hardware from teletypes to smart watches. It's the story of interactive fiction, made accessible to outsiders and insiders alike.
A readable layout with original maps and flowcharts help illustrate the workings of each game, amid copious excerpts, interviews with authors, and even snippets of source code. Whether you're reading about an old favorite or discovering a little-known gem, you're guaranteed to learn something new.
A PDF and eBook version of the 650-page (!!) book start at $25; for $45, you can get the soft cover, or $85 for the gorgeous hardcover.
50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon [Aaron Reed / Kickstarter]