Text adventure

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Adventure (1976), one of the first text adventures.

A text adventure is an adventure video game sub-genre where the interface is mostly text-based. The adventure unfolds as a text description of what is happening in the story is displayed to the player, and then the player types in commands to further progress the story. Text adventures are traditionally based around puzzles the player must solve, however, as the genre matured, different styles of game emerged like branching plot stories. This eventually led to a re-titling of the genre to interactive fiction which is more encompassing. However, as one who grew up with the genre, I prefer to refer to traditional puzzle-based text games as "text adventures," and use "interactive fiction" to describe everything else.

One of the first text adventures is Adventure (1976), which inspired several others including Zork (1977). As the genre gained traction, several companies were built up around them, like Adventure International which published games written by Scott Adams and Infocom which released several seminal titles like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984), A Mind Forever Voyaging (1985), and Trinity (1986). As graphical hardware began to reach home computers, text adventures began shifting to the graphic adventure. Today, text adventures are still being produced, but they're a particularly niche market.


Although I was introduced into video games with graphic-focused systems like the Atari 2600, I also had limited access to 1980s home computers which were occasionally loaded with text adventures. I always like the idea of text adventures, but I rarely had the patience to play them, and I never had access to any of the more important titles. I remember reading through a couple programming books as a teen, but they were usually so primitive, I wasn't very interested in them. I tried my hand at programming text adventures several times in QuickBASIC, but I always got bored with them fairly quickly and never completed any of them.


This is a list of text adventures that are important to me. For all games in this genre, see the text adventure category.

Title Released Developer
Alien 1982-03-05 Unknown
Survival in New York City 1987-06-10 Unknown



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