The History of My Adventure

Discovering that the static that came through our phone could bring the dead, tv-looking thing on our table to life was one of the most fascinating moments of my youth and young manhood. Sadly, that tone is almost gone from our world now, as dial-up disappears in favor of broadband connections (and rightly so). But even better was discovering what kind of life lay in wait on the other end of the line.

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Here was something big, bigger than school and sports and whatever synagogue I never showed up at for my rite of passage into manhood, and we were involved. My father was part of this thing that was happening, this thing that was cooler than men walking on the moon because it was right there in front of you and you could do it too. And I was doing it, and it was more than just pushing buttons. My own little 12-year-old’s text-based programming adventures didn’t come anywhere near what was happening in Adventure, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that what was coming back to me in little green letters or smudged black ink was something I had brought into being, my contribution to the world. For me, listening to the static song of the modem carrier signal or sitting in front of that clunky, clacketing teletype meant that I was charged, for however many minutes I could get, with the responsibility of creating something cool. And there’s no better drug for a pre-teen nerd than that, no more solemn burden to shoulder.

I never did make it to my Bar Mitzvah. But I’m pretty sure I learned some of the same lessons, thanks to dad and DEC and the big machines that did turn out to spark a revolution after all. —Mark WallaceThe History of My Adventure (Walkerings)

As much as I love both technology and games, I can’t help but think of Henry Adams contemplating the dynamo.

But I’m not one to point a finger. I enjoyed Wallace’s soulful, geeky hymn to the power of technology — as mediated by text-adventure games.