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The History of the Game
Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams' writing style lent itself particularly well to the 'non-linear' nature of computer games, so it was natural that he should be one of the earliest and best exponents of the form.
Watch a video clip of Douglas describing his 'user-mendacious' game.

"There was a time when computer games didn't have graphics. Or at least they couldn't have graphics and sound at the same time. They certainly couldn't have graphics, sound and enough content to keep even a human being amused for more than a few minutes. So they had text.

This was radical - a computer game you could control by typing in commands. The game would then respond to your commands with a breathtakingly prescient understanding of your intent. Or not. Usually not - the early text parsers (circa 1977) weren't that bright. But, as long as you limited yourself to what the game understood and the game designers wrote creatively enough to misunderstand you in a humorous and entertaining fashion, it all worked.

It therefore stands to reason that any game which combined a really good programmer with a really good writer was likely to do well. So when Steve Meretzky of Infocom got together with Douglas Adams to create a game based around the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the result was never going to be less than interesting and more than likely insane. So it proved - the Hitchhiker's Guide adventure game was one of the best-selling games of its era, selling some 350,000 copies. In 1984.

Then graphics games came along and the computer using portion of the human race forgot all about 500,000 years of language evolution and went straight back to the electronic equivalent of banging rocks together - the point'n'click game. Infocom and most of its competitors went to the wall - signalling the arrival of the post-literate society.

But something strange has now happened. The Net, and particularly e-mail, has become an integral part of millions of lives. People have learned to type again and are taking an interest in interacting, via their computers, with other people and with content."

Originally written for DouglasAdams.com by Richard Harris

Read Steve Meretzky's memories of creating the game
_____________________________________

The 20th anniversary edition is still essentially a text game. We have not attempted to produce a fully animated version. Think of the graphics as following in the tradition of E. H. Shepard's illustrations for A.A. Milne's books - don't expect them to reflect all the events described. Most of the images will rightly remain, to quote Simon Jones, "in the universe of your head."

The Infocom origins of the game are still evident, from the opening credits to the 'Help' message.


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