Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Book Review: The History of the Adventure Video Game

Adventure video games have provided players with epic and hilarious storytelling for over fifty years. What started from the humble beginnings of text adventures led to a blast of point-and-click and graphic adventure games throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. Trailblazers like Roberta and Ken Williams, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schaffer and Dave Grossman brought timeless characters, stories and puzzles to life, lighting the imaginations and wracking the brains of gamers around the world.

This book showcases the companies, games and creators that have made the adventure video game one of the most passionately-adored genres in the medium. In these pages you’ll find histories on influential companies such as Sierra On-Line, LucasArts and Telltale Games, as well as some of the most revered games in the genre. With a bright future emerging as veterans and newcomers forge ahead with new ideas and visual flourishes for adventure games, there’s never been a better time to become acquainted (or reacquainted!) with a colourful and exciting part of gaming history.

The History of the Adventure Video Game, written by Christopher Carton, will be released in September of 2023. Pen & Sword provided an early galley for review.

I've been a video gamer since my high school days, spending time at the arcade or with our Atari 2600. My first computer was a Commodore-64, for which I had a lot of video games including several mentioned in this book. So, I am easily in the target demographic for this trip down gaming's past.

The book starts out with the classic text-adventure games. These were the ones where you are given a scene description and then had to type a command as to what your character would do. Often simple two-word statements, it moved the story along and determined success or failure for an action. I enjoyed games like Zork quite a bit back in the 80's and even had bought some software that allowed a person to build their own text adventure games from scratch (I made one that used popular movies as clues to help escape being stranded in a small town).

The author does a good job including screenshots from actual games discussed. This is especially useful when the book moves to some of the more visual adventure games starting with the second chapter. This shows how the genre was quickly evolving as the technology of the game platforms was evolving as well.

Overall, it is a quick read yet one that will spark nostalgia for readers who spent hours playing many of these games.

No comments: