Taking Inventory

“Computer Games Have No Respect for you”

by Jason Scott on Feb.02, 2009, under Uncategorized

I love this article. While scanning in a bunch of artifacts, I found this newspaper column written in January of 1985. It was acquired by a clipping service for Infocom during the cycle of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (hence the paragraph that is outlined in yellow) and is nearly 25 years old.

Called “Computer Games, and Players, have no respect for you”, this article tells the travails of playing Interactive Fiction in 1985. Specifically, playing Infocom games, because the author mentions Zork, Suspect, and Hitchhiker’s Guide as the games she tried to play. In all cases, she hates the format and hates the tone of the games. It’s an enjoyable counterpoint to the rah-rah approach most articles (and, really, a lot of the documentary) find themselves promoting. People who normally didn’t engage with computers as game machines found themselves doing so for Infocom games and adventure games, and the process wasn’t always for their enlightenment or enjoyment.

Computer Games Have No Respect

You can see the full-size scan here. I went and tracked down the author, Gayle Gertler, and she’s still living in Providence, selling Southwestern-themed items (which she was interviewed about in the paper). It looks like she was an editor when she left in the 2000s, meaning she had a nice long run in the newspaper business. Maybe I should ask her what she thinks of these games now…

4 comments for this entry:
  1. Johan Herrenberg

    Nice article. I can’t say I am in complete disagreement with the lady. Infocom games are fun but tough, very tough.

  2. gnome

    An amazing find. As for the lady, well, she does have a point I can understand, but can’t really agree. More of a matter of taste really…

  3. Gregory Weir

    One lesson here: if you don’t like a game, don’t buy two more games created by the same people.

    But the treatment of failure in games is still a big issue… it turns people off, even today. It’s made worse by reactionary fans, who cried out that the new Prince of Persia game was too easy because it doesn’t force you to replay a big chunk of the level after you fail, but just lets you resume from just before the latest obstacle.

  4. nick

    If you weren’t so deep into post-production, I’d encourage you to interview her. As it is, I’ll wish you the best at getting through with the documentary!

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