‘Imagination Lost’ – The Artful Gamer

Chris at The Artful Gamer writes about the recently released browser-based game ‘Legends of Zork’. He examines it from the perspective of someone who played the original as well as stepping into the shoes of a newcomer to the ‘Zork’ universe and ascertains that Legends of Zork “is the expression of the generational gap we find ourselves in today.” That is, the gap between the rudimentary, often obtusely complicated (not to mention visually sparse) 1980s gaming and post-2000s excesses.

When I stare at the map of the Great Underground Empire as the creators of LoZ imagine it, my eyes take in the gorgeously drawn map – not the places themselves – but the world as seen from a bird's eye view. I do not walk through the world. My fingers do not dance over the keyboard and do the walking for me. I point with my cursor, and the cursor – the computer and its algorithms – transports me to another place. I magically re-appear in front of the white house. But this is not the abandoned white house of my youth. It is not the house that I stole a rusted swiss-army knife from. It is a white house that corresponds to a popular modern children's art style. It evokes nothing for me.

It’s interesting to me as someone who has never played the original – when classic and beloved games get a re-imagining for the modern era, do they intrinsically lose something of their original charm? Does what made the original captivating in its time remain today, or do rosy-glasses tint our memories of these games? It is an experience that I have had a number of times since starting to play with the Vintage Game Club as, particularly with the game ‘Abe’s Oddysey,’ I found my fond memories of playing the game as a teen didn’t match with the reality today. Chris opines the inevitable changes, saying:

I do not mourn the loss of text-adventure games… What I mourn is the loss of a way of life. Gamer culture has changed so much that a new Zork adventure game no longer would make sense to us.

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