We asked several Geekend contributors to write about the game, book, comic, and movie an aspiring geek must play/read/watch. This is the first installment in the series.


The memory is still fresh in my mind: The hum of the nearby DEC PDP-11/70 running Unix, and the green glow of the words on the CRT were lost on me, for I wasn’t really there; instead, my mind roamed through the galleries and the passages of the Colossal Cave. It was my first time playing Adventure, and I was in a world unlike anything this side of Middle-earth.

Computer resources where limited in those days, so those of us who played Adventure took whatever unallocated machine time was available. Midnight? Not a problem, there were still around two hours left to play before the lab shut down for the night. And, play I did, for countless hours. All the time, I would map the explored areas, learn how to solve the various puzzles and compare notes with my fellow adventurers. Need to get past the cave bear? Not a problem, I could do it. Want to get across the troll bridge and not lose a treasure? It’s easy, and I knew how.

Occasionally, there were what seemed like insurmountable issues, such as getting the Pearl, knowing when to type xyzzy, or finding my way through a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. From the boasting of the upper-class spelunkers, I knew all of these actions were possible, but they weren’t talking, so I was forced to find an answer myself; while it was annoying, it made victory that much sweeter.

All of that was years ago, but there are times when it comes to the forefront. Like, a couple of months ago when a coworker asked what Microsoft Exchange was like. I thought about it for a moment and replied, “A maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” His response was a knowing laugh, so it seems the Colossal Cave adventure was his geek must-play computer game as well. This isn’t surprising, considering that we’re about the same age. If he were younger, his geek must-play computer game might have been Zork, Hack, Doom, or possibly The Bard’s Tale.

Will Crowther‘s Adventure is my vote because it was the first computer adventure game, and it spawned an entirely new type of game and entertainment.

Now it’s your turn: What do you think is the ultimate geek computer game? Please post your pick in the discussion.

(Note: After we publish all installments of the series, we’ll feature some members’ geek profiles with their “ultimate” selections.)