XYZZY: Finding New Magic in Text Adventure Games

Using games to entice, entertain, and engage introductory programmers has been successful; many of the approaches, however, use graphical programming. This either requires a complex game engine or toolkit for students to program or a lot of additional effort for students to get the game looking the way they want. Taking a page from the game studies literature, the current paper reports on gaining the benefits of games without the graphics, of traveling back in time to the days of the great text adventure games. —Brian C. LaddXYZZY: Finding New Magic in Text Adventure Games (Microsoft Academic Days on Game Development in Computer Science Education)

I’m always glad to encounter new scholarship on text-based games, but the “back in time” rhetoric here is rather dismissive of the incredible artistic and programming advances that the post-commercial interactive fiction community has made.

This is a Microsoft-sponsored conference, held on the “Disney Wonder Cruise Ship.”

And I, for one, welcome our new digital cultural overlords.

Seriously, though, engineering papers are a very, very different genre than the academic papers I’ve been writing lately. I actually presented at an engineering conference when I was a graduate student, presenting a method for sequencing writing assignments. This was nothing new so far as the rhet-comp field is concerned, but at the time the concept of writing across the curriculum was new to a lot of engineering teachers, and I did what I could to present it to them in a genre that they would find familiar.