Sunday, November 20, 2011

Twisty Little Passages

My earliest exposure to adventure gaming was not actually D&D but the interactive fiction software produced by companies like Infocom in the 80s, which I played on my trusty Atari 800. In particular, it would probably be hard for me to overestimate the influence the Zork games had on my young imagination. So naturally, as soon as I discovered the existence of Twisty Little Passages by Nick Montfort, which purported to be a kind of history of interactive fiction, I had to buy and read it immediately. I was not disappointed.

According to Montfort, the first work of interactive fiction, Adventure, was inspired as much by its author's Dungeons & Dragons campaign as his caving and spelunking activities; and indeed the book contains a lot of material that I think anyone interested in the history of RPGs in general and fantasy adventure gaming in particular would find fascinating. Chapter three even contains a sort of sub-chapter exclusively devoted to Dungeons & Dragons, complete with quotes from Gary Gygax and Dragon magazine. I'm not going to lie: this book is definitely not for everyone; it's a rather dry, academic exploration of a relatively obscure subject. But for the right reader (me), this is gold.


  1. This book has been on my to read list forever - glad to see it recommended here.

  2. Hey, did you ever hear of the text game documentary called "Get Lamp":

    I haven't seen it but I would love to. thanks for the heads up on the book. I too was exposed to Zork before delving deeply into D&D.

  3. @Drance: I've been wanting to pick up that documentary for a while now; I would have ordered it the moment I heard about it but $45 bucks seemed a little steep to me for a DVD. Now that you reminded me of it, though, it's going on my Christmas list for sure.

  4. You should get an amazon affiliate link for when you recommend books, just put this in my cart to buy over the weekend when I order a bunch of other stuff :)

    Infocom games were a lot of fun, they lead directly to my playing MUD games in high school.

  5. I will agree that this book is definitely not for everyone (for all the reasons you list). But I never once regretted buying and reading it.

    (I was even thinking of it even this evening, before reading this post)

    Definitely recommended to all those who want to read a well written, well researched, academic work on the subject.