West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
If this is completely meaningless to you, then chances are you’ve never heard of CP/M, single-density drives, or Zork. If this is the case, you also missed the golden age of computer gaming, back when imagination and a knowledge of classic literature were more important than quick reflexes and a high-speed internet connection.
The Zork trilogy of games by Infocom were potentially more addictive than World of Warcraft, even though they contained no graphics whatsoever, no sound effects, and each could fit on a 191k floppy disk. I know, as I was one of those who occasionally stayed up until 3am trying to outsmart a unicorn or find a way through the gates of Hades. However, while I solved Zork I, I never completely solved II or III. I did have a lot of fun, though.
Today, as luck would have it, I stumbled across this video by MC Frontalot (not something you’d typically find on my Walkman), featuring an appearance by none other than Infocom’s Steve Meretzky:
Destined to be a classic, I’m sure. It is, in any event, a great tribute to the Zork games.
For some time I’ve wanted to find a way to port my old CP/M games from my Kaypro II (yes, I still have mine) over to CD and find an emulator so I could play them again. However, inspired by the above video, my son Isaiah found that the games – available for both Mac and PC – are downloadable for free! And they even work on Vista!
So, the golden age is still upon us. Both of us have been breaking into white houses, killing trolls, and wandering around underground mazes all evening. So, go grab yourself some classic computer fun, and waste a few hours exploring the mysteries of Zork. But, just remember: Don’t wander around dark places unless you’ve got your lantern or some matches, or you’re likely to be eaten by a grue. And, we wouldn’t want that…