Playing Zork I with My Kids

Posted: May 25, 2014 in Blogroll, interactive fiction, Textfyre
Tags: , ,

I’ve made attempts over the years to play IF with my kids (now 15, 14, 12, 10, and 9) with poor success. Angie (12) had shown some interest with Lost Pig, but no else had any patience for all that reading and typing.

So I made a bargain. In equal amounts, they could play Minecraft for playing IF with me.

I picked up a wireless keyboard and mouse for $34 at BestBuy and plugged my laptop into my 60″ LED TV, fired up Zork I and upped the font to 24pt. It worked out well enough.

Penny, Angie, Tori, and Ben all played for about 90 minutes, but the cacophony of “Minecraft” requests and the whining became overwhelming. That’s as far as we could go. In the process, I did notice that Penny and Ben liked it, but if they had a choice, wouldn’t play. Everyone wanted the keyboard which engaged them more, so that was interesting.

Later, I fired Zork I up on my laptop in the kitchen and restarted it from memory. After about 10 minutes Tori (10) came and sat next to me to help. By this time I had pulled out the map from Treasures so that was something that definitely helped raise interest.

After awhile, Angie came sat with us. We got up to about 150 points before they had to leave to go back to their mom’s house.

Yesterday they were over again and we played most of the afternoon and finished Zork I. They (Angie and Tori) immediately wanted to play Zork II and so they started it on their own.

The parts I enjoyed was that they solved some of the puzzles on their own, but they also got into the rhythm of “save early and often” and understanding the parser well enough to not need my help.

I’m looking forward to playing Zork II when the come back next weekend. I’m really excited to get through the Zorks and on to Enchanter. That should be even more fun.

  1. Nathan says:

    Last fall I introduced my 12-year-old daughter (now 13) to Mrs. Pepper’s Nasty Secret. After a few minutes with me, she finished it on her own in the following days, then she asked for more. I don’t remember all the ones she played. She tried out Lost Pig, but said the language was too confusing. I remember she said Earth and Sky was fun. That laptop died late in the year, and I just got her set up to play IF again yesterday. I put several dozen Z-code, TADS 2 and 3, and Glulx story files in a directory, and associated the appropriate interpreters with the file types. She was really excited when I told her what I had done; she ran straight to the computer and didn’t stop until she had won her first play-through of Six, by Wade Clarke. I wonder what she’ll try next–maybe Shadow in the Cathedral? (I bought the hobbyist edition). She’s a voracious reader, so I think IF is a natural fit. I’m not sure about Infocom, though; old school unfairness like Zork I’s might not be right for her.

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